Aware is a student society at ESCP promoting gender equality in higher education and business. In honor of the International Day of Women’s Rights, the association launched the first edition of TOGET’HER, a week dedicated to the intersection of gender and business. The goal of the week was to raise awareness about sexism in the professional world and to provide students, especially women, with tools and insights to overcome these problematic dynamics, both conscious and unconscious. Events throughout the week were free for the entire ESCP community: students, professors and staff members. Over the five-day span, Aware invited diverse speakers and experts to talk about various topics linked to gender equity in business, from breaking through the glass ceiling to learning how to negotiate one’s salary. Events throughout the week included seminars, roundtable discussions, workshops and training.
Here are just a few of the key takeaways from each of the events!
Women's Careers and the Glass Ceiling : fighting gender stereotypes and unconscious biases
For TOGET’HER’s opening event, Aware was proud to host Séverine Roux and Isabelle Daviaud from the Professional Women’s Network (PWN) to address the issue of the glass ceiling. Although women have higher levels of educational attainment on average than men, they are starkly underrepresented in executive roles. This gap is the glass ceiling, which is perpetuated through unconscious biases (self censorship, education, etc), sexism and gender stereotypes. Our two speakers walked participants through how to recognize, deconstruct and counteract these biases.
Responding to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The consulting firm EQUILIBRES joined TOGET’HER to provide training to help participants know how to better react to everyday sexism, from innapropriate jokes told during a coffee break to actual sexual harassment in the workplace. First, they taught the audience how to recognize such situations then explained the legal consequences of this type of behaviour, and finally, gave advice on how to respond in such situations - one example of which being the necessity of turning directly to HR should any suspicion of danger for an employee arise.
Talk with Najat Vallaud-Belkacem
For the third event of the week, Aware hosted an interview with Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the former French Minister of Women’s Rights and now head of One, an NGO dedicated to international solidarity and tackling extreme poverty. She posits that patriarchal systems are the root of discrimination against all those who don’t fit into traditional social standards, including women. To put an end to such systemic discrimination, she advocates taking concrete actions to create true equality and to overcome the glass ceiling - especially by promoting the value of jobs primarily undertaken by women (care, retail jobs..), many of which were proven essential and underappreciated during the covid crisis.
Roundtable : "Meeting Women Entrepreneurs : Experiences and Careers"
Aware was honored to receive three women entrepreneurs at different stages of their careers: First, Jo Bautista, an ESCP student, told us about her social impact company SendToGive that she launched during the first lockdown. Then, Jessie Gaston spoke about her position in the board of Empow’her, an organization dedicated to helping women create their own start-ups. Finally, Catherine Barba, a pioneer in the digital sector and angel investor for many years, gave us some insight into what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. Every speaker underlined the importance of being a risk-taker and going where no one expects. They insisted on the fact that there are no differences between men and women, as pursuing our passions is the only thing that matters.
Salary Negotiation, Networking, Self-Affirmation and Self-Promotion: HR for the Promotion of Women in the Workplace”
The event’s closing speaker was Amélie Favre Guittet, an HR influencer on LinkedIn and founder of the Talent Management Group. She shared her experience and provided tools to teach students how to build a professional network, to negotiate a salary and to face sexism in the workplace. She offered some key advice; to practice self determination and to learn how to say “No”. Her motto? Humor and self affirmation are keys to success.
Gender inequalities in the workplace are still very real obstacles to overcome, but in order to do so women must start promoting themselves, supporting one another and fighting their own internalized biases.
Héloïse Rannou and Noa Elkaim are French ESCP students based in Paris and enrolled in the Master in Management Program. Héloïse is President of the student society AWARE and Noa is its Vice-President.