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Other innovations 19/09/2018

ENGIE Innovation Week: sharing information to promote diversity among entrepreneurs and busines

Women in innovation: a subject that involves two key topics for the ENGIE Group! It’s the theme of the event, which was hosted as part of ENGIE Innovation Week by the Southern Regional Office and its partners BA06 Accompagnement, Les Premières Provence and the WIN network.In line with the topic on diversity in business and entrepreneurship, the Southern Regional Director Ludovic Parisot and his deputy Audrey Vendembilque decided to tell us about the event together. 

How did you choose the theme of this event?

For many years, ENGIE has been doing more and more to promote professional equality between men and women and to encourage gender diversity within teams.

We decided to make the most of the signature of a partnership between BA06, our historic partner in the 06 department for innovation and Les Premières Provence, an incubator that encourages diversity in entrepreneurship. Their creed: "Women's entrepreneurship is a societal and economic issue. Currently, only 30% of business leaders are women! We have to remove the brakes!"

This is how the idea of an event that would let women entrepreneurs and employees of a large company share their experience of gender diversity and innovation in an open setting with shared values.


How was the event?

On May 28, 2018 about fifty people – including men – came to the CEEI Nice Côte d'Azur. There was a friendly, constructive and caring atmosphere. The format of the event was ideal and created the conditions for sharing useful information and experiences among audience members and the speakers. Participants were passionate about the subject and there was a lively debate.

To give an idea of some of the reactions and points brought up:

"We don’t have to be wonderwomen or sacrifice everything to dare to undertake challenges and succeed". The example set by Isabelle Kocher, the first woman to head a CAC40 company and mother of 5 children, can be intimidating!

"Do we have to make a successful life or do we have to succeed in life? I chose to do both!" This sentence perfectly sums up the participants’ state of mind expectations held by the women who were present. "We must not stop because of societal obstacles": society's view of a woman who succeeds in a company often leads to her being considered a bad mother who doesn’t take care of her children. A woman who engages in her work or business always has to justify herself much more than a man – and usually earns less than a man!

Despite the difficulty of becoming an entrepreneur, for a woman starting a business can also give her the possibility to organize her working time and her day according to (among other things) her family constraints. New ways of working, which are no longer linked to a specific "office" or to an object, "the PC",  are developing to fit the uses and functions that allow this to happen. For women, being able to adapt your schedule to your family and your work is also a real innovation.

And finally, on the subject of differences between women entrepreneurs and men: "Are women less daring than men? Not necessarily, but they are more thoughtful."


What prospects are there for the future?

We are examining how to best collaborate with Les Premières Provence who greatly appreciated the time to share their experiences. We plan to meet again in September to explore how to work together.

As for the event itself, we think it might have been wise to choose a more singular or provocative title. Although there were several men there, they may not have really felt like the subject was relevant to them. But what was expressed during the discussions should be heard by men so that things to continue to go in the right direction.

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