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Women and Their Relationship to Power

Still A Taboo Or A New Corporate Governance Model?

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Interviews undertaken in partnership with Boyden global executive search and in collaboration with Women In Leadership (WIL), The Alumni “Women Be European Board Ready”, Epso Coaching, Dunya Bouhacene, Maryse Dubouloy, Camille Ferté, Lucy Summers.

To download a French version of this study, please click here.

September 2012

SUMMARY

  • Context of the study
  • About
    • The author : Viviane de Beaufort
    • The Collaborators
      • Boyden global executive search
      • ESSEC Group
      • European Women In Leadership (WIL)
      • Epso Coaching (Carmen Peter)
      • Alumni “Women Be European Board Ready” & Le Cercle Gouvernance et Equilibre
      • Dunya Bouhacene, Maryse Dubouloy, Camille Ferté, Lucy Summers
  • Summary, objectives and methodology behind the study
  • List of Interviews
  • Interview Template
  • Extracts from the study

CONTEXT OF THE STUDY

The “ feminisation “ of Boards should be a vehicle for change and provide businesses and organizations with more diversity (of gender), and therefore greater efficiency. Promoting women to positions of power in this way is only desirable if women can bring their added value in terms of skills and “feminine” values. In this regard, “the discourse that depicts gender equality as a natural evolution is at odds with the reality that for women and men ... achieving a greater acceptance of equality involves a change in mind-set ... a fight against the fierce persistence of stereotypes with respect to gender”, says Françoise Holder . Among the persistent stereotypes, women’s relationship to power is a key starting point.

The purpose of this study, through conducting qualitative analysis, is to attempt to prove or disprove a number of assumptions made in too few studies on the subject and perhaps to fight some of the ideas developed (stereotypes). The analysis was conducted in France, but also throughout the world, in order to be able to capture a potential cultural bias. It is necessary to make some assumptions about the construction of a mixed model to integrate the feminine quotient in the enterprise and organizations (Agnes Arcier) in the future.

Président of the “ Women Equity Committee “ of the MEDEF, F. Holder introduces the study of stéréotypes led by IMS in mai 2012.

SIDE NOTE: The results of the study will be first unveiled at the Women’s Forum in October 2012, in collaboration with Lenovo. Subsequently, several events and debates are planned in both circles of governance (IFA, November 29 2012, MEDEF Parity Commission) as well as among Women’s Networks (WIL in Brussels in Autumn, Financi’Elles, Cercle Inter Elles, etc). The whole study including some more elements on functioning on boards will be published in near future .

ABOUT

The Author

Viviane de Beaufort is a Professor at the leading European Business School ESSEC, where she is also the Director of the law faculty and Co-Director of the European Center Law and Economics. She holds a Doctorate in European Community Law from the University of Paris I - La Sorbonne, a Master in Political Science from the University of Paris X, as well as an Advanced Diploma from the Centre for European Economics Studies. Viviane de Beaufort is the author of several publications and conferences on Corporate Law, where her main research interests lie in the fields of Corporate Governance and Institutional Issues. She is also actively involved in European Public Affairs, being an integral member of several Think-Tanks, as well as an experienced and respected lobbyist, notably specialising in the areas of Competition law and Corporate Governance Issues. As the creator and Academic director of Women- ESSEC programmes (including “Women, Be European Board Ready”), created with the support of the Women’s Forum, she is committed to the progression of Women, Gender and diversity Issues. Considered an expert in the fields of Corporate Governance and Gender Issues, she is continuously engaged in academic research on these issues.

E-mail : Beaufort@essec.fr Twitter : @vdbeaufort Linked-in : http://www.linkedin.com/pub/viviane-de-beaufort/8/720/aa Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/viviane.debeaufort Blog : https://sites.google.com/a/essec.edu/viviane-de-beaufort/

The Collaborators

BOYDEN, ACADEMIC PARTNER
BOYDEN is an execu­tive search firm with one of the most ex­tensive networks in the world, present in over 40 countries with more than 70 offices orga­nised in specialized industry practices; its consultants possess an excellent knowledge of the world of internatio­nal managers.

BOYDEN is driven by an entrepreneurial and civic spirit and would like to contribute to the evolution of ethical ma­nagement in business and in society. Thus it is natural that BOYDEN would want to asso­ciate itself with the re­flection on the role of women in business, a key issue in the years to come, and colla­borate with the study “Women and Power”, led by Viviane de BEAU­FORT, a professor at the ESSEC business school who leads the ESSEC programme “ESSEC Women be European Board Ready”, by pla­cing its international experts at the disposal of the study in order to provide an internatio­nal approach.

For more information, please visit E-mail Boyden France : boyden@boyden.fr Boyden Corporate : www.boyden.com

ESSEC BUSINESS SCHOOL WOMEN BE EUROPEAN BOARD READY
ESSEC, Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Econo­miques and Commer­ciales [Higher Institute of Economic and Commercial Sciences], founded in 1907, is one of the world’s top ma­nagement schools. With 4,400 students, a wide range of management training programmes, partnerships with the world’s greatest univer­sities, a network of 40,000 alumni, and a Faculty comprising 141 full-time professors who are reco­gnised both for the qua­lity and influence of their research, ESSEC conti­nues to foster a tradition of academic excellence and a spirit of openness in the fields of econo­mics, social sciences and innovation. ESSEC has long considered the issues of sustainable development, diversity and social responsibility of utmost importance in Corporate Training Pro­grammes and in acade­mic research. The work and training initiatives of Professor Viviane de Beaufort’s Executive Courses on diversity and gender issues, are thus cohesive with ESSEC’s focus on diversity.

For more information regarding : ESSEC Business School : www.essec.fr Programmes WOMEN - ESSEC : http://formation.essec.fr/formations-courtes/women

EUROPEAN WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP (WIL)
The European Network for Women in Leadership (WIL) is a blue ribbon panel of high-level women across Europe from various industries, European and Member States high-civil service, members of the European Parliament, nongovernmental organizations and aca­demia. WIL members actively leverage women’s participation in leadership, by engaging with key decision makers and bringing forward our solutions for today’s critical issues, while transversally touching gender-related topics.

For more information, please visit : www.wileurope.org

EPSO COACHING
EPSOCOACHING is an executive coa­ching and training company based in Brussels and working internationally. The company, founded and directed by Carmen Peter, specialises in human side of management, the, so called, “soft skills giving such a hard time”. The com­pany develops and delivers training and coaching programmes centred around these “human skills”, whilst at the same time driving performance excellence. EPSO COACHING works particularly within the European Institutions: Com­missioners, Directors General, Directors, Heads of Unit ,but also managers and administrators. EPSOCOACHING also has training courses dedicated to pre­paring candidates for the “Entry Exams” into the European Institutions.

For more information, please visit : www.epsocoaching.com/fr/

MARYSE DUBOULOY DUNYA BOUHACENE, CAMILLE FERTÉ, LUCY SUMMERS
D. Bouhacene, founder and President of Women Equity for Growth, contri­buted to the proof-reading of the study.

M. Dubouloy, Professor teaching Human-Re­sources at ESSEC Business School & psycho-clinician, helped guide the deve­lopment of the Interview Questions and oversaw the Interview trial stage.

C. Ferté and L. Summers, both students at ESSEC Business School, assisted Professor de Beaufort as Research Assistants.

ALUMNI OF “ WOMEN BE EUROPEAN BOARD READY “
The Alumni of the Programme WOMEN BE EUROPEAN BOARD READY (32) were asked to reflect upon the theme of Women and their relationship to power through group coaching sessions, which had been integrated into the training programme, and led by Ingrid Bianchi. They subsequently participated in a brainstorming session on the findings of the study on September 20, 2012 with the association The “Cercle Gouvernance & Equilibre” - The word Governance because it deals with the processes of power within corporations and balance is about diversity in terms of nationality, age and background.

SUMMARY, OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY BEHIND THE STUDY

Summary, Objectives

“The company is a place of social and societal power ...” (Eugene Enriquez, Games of power and desire in Business). The rise of women in places of power calls on a look at their relationship to power, as western culture imposes a “masculine” model which includes a certain number of behavioural traits (2) : not showing weaknesses or emotions, being a winner… so many norms which condition the relation to power in a company (3), and also more generally in an organisation, in politics, etc.

These norms generate automatic stereotypes (4), concerning women and power (for example anger is perceived differently depending on who is expressing it: for a woman it is ‘hysteria’ and for a man a ‘sign of authority’. These cultural norms lead to a quest for power for power’s sake: the power to “be”, as opposed to the “feminine” model of power meaning ‘to do’ and ‘be able to do’. This “feminine” model does not imply a quest to gain power and benefit from it, but to exercise it in the common interest, for the collective well-being, with a developed sense of personal responsibility towards others. As power is more or less a taboo subject for women...we start with the principal that a certain number of women have been led to give up their power as conceived in the dominant model, whilst others have had to adopt and fit into the dominant model in order to reach the circles of power. Those who have attempted the exercise are nevertheless legitimate in their actions either by legal norms (in France the law promotes the feminisation of Boards), or by good management principals and prescriptions of ‘mixing’ and actions in the context of Corporate Social Responsibility, etc...

The “new” candidates proceed with certain objectives about which we are making the following hypothesis: the desire to access high level positions out of the belief in the exercise of collective power, which allows change and to transform the system.

The confrontation with reality of power can lead to them giving it up or conforming to the dominant model (with more or less difficulties and suffering as this represents a transgression from the ideal scenario, which explains why certain female directors sometimes gain the reputation of being “machos”). Other female executives manage to create a model combining male and female values (it is this model which is applied by those male directors who have themselves evolved in their approach).

The dominant HR literature suggests that the ideal manager of either gender must henceforth be able to blend the male skills (charisma, leadership, impartiality, decision making capability…) with the female (relationality, empathy, listening, organization, knowledge…): Does this lead to a blended model incorporating the female quotient? (5)


Methodology

After a review of the academic literature (see bibliography) that gave rise to the development of a number of assumptions about the complicated relationship women have with power, a qualitative study was conducted in order to support or invalidate these assumptions. Once analysed, these interviews were the basis of a Collective Workshop with Women’s Networks, comprising of Executive Business- Women, in order to further develop an accurate analysis of the study.

The subject rests a taboo: for many of women, power has certain connotations. For those who have strong aspirations, there is a fear and/or the desire to do things differently … It is this possible trend that particularly interests us : women, now known to be more numerous in positions of power, will they do something else?

The study draws its’ primary research from the testimonies of Board Members who, by appointment, or because of their position, hold a position on a Board of Directors or a Supervisory Board. The choice was made to interview two Executive and non Executive Board Members because their mission are different: supervision or action.

Women from the political scene, as well as Senior Public Servants were also incorporated into the study to provide a different perspective. The study was conducted partially in France, mainly due to the recent legal intervention, which has been hailed as rather comprehensive in terms of the evolution of diversity initiatives. The study was also conducted in Europe and in other countries world-wide, in order to identify the extent of a cultural bias when it comes to power and its attributes.

A qualitative questionnaire was used to interview 49 women from different population. The two main groups are either Board Members or Company Directors, both in France and Abroad.

  • Board Members and Company Directors in position in France
  • Board Members and Company Directors in positions Abroad
  • Candidates in power (collective workshops)
  • Senior Civil Servants and Politicians
  • Experts

Finally, Collective Workshops were conducted in order to discuss and reflect upon the findings of the study based upon the individual interviews. These two workshops were held by the Alumni of the Programme Women Be European Board Ready and Gouvernance et Equilibre (ESSEC, France), and the Women’s Network WIL (Europe), in order to further enrich the analysis of study before publication.

LIST OF INTERVIEWS 

France

BOARD MEMBERS AND COMPANY DIRECTORS IN FRANCE

> 01 Anonymous 1 Board Member of numerous french large companies.

> 02 Anonymous 5 Board Member of numerous french large companies.

> 03 Nathalie Balla CEO of La Redoute (Redcats Group).

> 04 Agnès Bricard Founder and President of the Accounting Firm Bricard, Lacroix & Associés, President of French Public Accountants’ professional organisation, Vice-President of Club Action de Femmes.

> 05 Barbara Dalibard Managing Director of SNCF Voyages. Board Member of Wolters Kluwer NV, Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin SCA, GlobeCast Holding SA, and Michelin SA.

> 06 Diaa Elyaacoubi CEO of Streamcore System France. Board Member of Ingenico France.

> 07 Delphine Ernotte- Cunci Deputy CEO of France Telecom- Orange, Senior Executive Vice President of Orange France, Board Member of Suez Environnement.

> 08 Anne-Sophie Fauvet Mulliez Board Member at Pimkie, Member of the Decathlon Foundation, Member of the Managing Committee of l’AFM.

> 09 Catherine Ladousse Executive Director of Corporate Communications EMEA at Lenovo.

> 10 Colette Lewiner Chairwomen of TDF, Energy Advisor to Capgemini. Board Member of Bouygues, Colas, Eurotunnel, Lafarge, Nexans, and TGS-Nopec Geophysical Company.

> 11 Sabine Lochmann General Manager of Strategic and Governmental Affairs at Johnson & Johnson Medical Company, President of the Association Avenir Femmes Sante, Member of Women In Leadership.

> 12 Nathalie Mesny, CEO of Oxybul Eveil & jeux.

> 13 Hélène Molinari Deputy Managing Director of the MEDEF (Movement of the Enterprises of France). Supervisory board Member of Lagardère Groupe.

> 14 Sylvie Ouziel CEO of Allianz Managed Operations & Services SE (AMOS SE).

> 15 Laurence Paganini Former Deputy Manager of Marionnaud and 3 Suisses.

> 16 Stéphanie Paix President of the Board of la Caisse d’Epargne Rhône-Alpes (Groupe BPCE). Board Member of Natixis and of Crédit Foncier de France.

> 17 Isabelle Seillier Chairman of JP Morgan France. member of EMEA Executive Commitee and EMEA IB inclusive Leadership Council (Diversity Council), Board Member of Europlace Paris and of AFB, Danone and Club Méditerranée.

> 18 Pascale Sourisse Senior Vice- President for the Land and Joint systems division at Thales Group. Board Member of Telecom ParisTech School, Vinci, Renault and DCNS.

SENIOR CIVIL SERVANTS AND FEMALE POLITICANS

> 19 Agnes Arcier Director of ADETEF Bercy (The French international technical assistance agency of the Ministries for the Economy, Budget and Sustainable Development), Founder of the French Female Board Members Association “Administration Moderne”.

> 20 Sophie Auconie Member of the European Parliament for the French constituency “Massif-Central- Centre”, Member of the National Council and Executive Committee of “European Movement – France”. Co-founder and Chair of the Association “Femmes au Centre” (“Women in the Centre”).

> 21 Isabelle de Kerviler Partner at Cailliau Dedouit and Associates, Financial Expert for The Court of Cassation (The Highest Court in France), Counsellor for Paris (1983-2001), Member of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council of France (CESE), Vice-President of the “ Economic Activities “ department.

> 22 Marie-Jo Zimmermann French Member of Parliament, for the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, Vice- President of the parliamentary delegation on women’s rights.

EXPERTS IN FRANCE

> 23 Ingrid Bianchi Founder and Director of Diversity Source Manager.

> 24 Dunya Bouhacene Founder of Women Equity for Growth.

> 25 Maryse Dubouloy Associate Professor – Management Department at ESSEC Business School, Consultant/ Coach at Réseau Pluridis.

> 26 Emmanuelle Gagliardi Associate Director of Connecting Women, Director of the magazine L/ONTOP.

> 27 Valérie Rocoplan Founder and Director of Talentis (Executive Coaching International). Executive Coach.

France

WOMEN IN POWER (COLLECTIVE WORKSHOPS)

> The Alumni of the Advanced Certificate Programme “ Women Be European Board Ready “ - Thursday 20 September

> The Network WIL - Friday 21 september

Europe and Abroad

BOARD MEMBERS AND COMPANY DIRECTORS ABROAD

> 28 Isla Ramos Chaves Executive Director of Europe, Middle East & Africa Business Transformation at Lenovo. (Spain)

> 29 Janet Clark Executive Vice- President and CFO of Marathon Oil Corporation. Board Member of Marathon Oil Coporation, Dell and NGOs. (The United States)

> 30 Ai Lian Fang Board Member of: The Institute of Policy Studies, NUS Business School, Singapore Management University, Public Utilities Board, International Enterprise Singapore. (Singapore)

> 31 Katherine Garrett- Cox CEO and Chief Investirment Officer & Director of Alliance Trust Asset Manangement Ltd. (United Kingdom)

> 32 Anne Gripper CEO of Triathlon Australia. (Australia)

> 33 Carina Hellemaa Partner of Sagacitas Finance Partners Oy. Founder, Managing Partner of C.Hellemaa & Co. Non- Executive Board Member of Swedish mining company Endomines AB. (Finland)

> 34 Anne Korkiakoski Member of the Executive Board, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Communication of Kone. (Finland)

> 35 Gao Lan Vice-President of Human Resources for China, Asia- Pacific & Latin America at Lenovo. (China)

> 36 Kristin Skogen Lund Executive Vice President and Head of Digital Services & Nordic of Telenor Group. (Norway)

> 37 Sally Macdonald CEO of Oroton Group. (Australia)

> 38 Galya Frayman Molinas President of Turkey Coca Cola Company. Member of the Women’s Leadership Council.(Turkey)

> 39 Margareth Oevrum Executive Vice President Technology, Global Projects, Drilling and New Energy Business Areas of Statoil ASA. Member of the Boards of Atlas Copco AB, Sweden, Private Equity Company Ratos AB, Sweden, and the Norwegian Research Council. (Norway)

> 40 Gülseren Onanç Politician, CHP (Republican People’s Party) - Major opposition social democrats. (Turkey)

> 41 Natalya Sindeeva Managing Director of the digital TV Channel “DOZH OF” (RAIN). (Russia)

> 42 Gülden Türktan President of Women Entrepreneurs Association. Board Member of Kagider. She has served at the International Investments Association of Turkey four years as the Board member and Vice-Chairman of the Board. (Turkey)

> 43 Olga Vysotskaya Partner at PWC, was a Board member of KIT Finance, of EM-Alliance. Independent member of Audit Committee of Group of companies “Alexander”. (Russia)

> 44 Sandra Wellet Vice President of Global Supply Chain for Europe, Middle East, Africa at Lenovo. (United Kingdom)

SENIOR CIVIL SERVANTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

> 45 Anne Houtman Head of Representation in France at the European Commission.

> 46 Anonymous 2 Advisor to a DG at the European Commission.

> 47 Anonymous 3 Head of Unit at the European Commission.

> 48 Anonymous 4 Director of a DG at the European Commission

EXPERTS ABROAD

> 49 Carmen Peter Founder and Director of EPSO Coaching.

> 50 Thaima Samman Partner at Samman Law Firm, President of the European Network for Women in Leadership (WIL).

INTERVIEW TEMPLATE

NOTE: To facilitate the exercise : Numbering 1, 2, 3, 4 of categories : ADM/ Directors/ Politicians/ Senior Public Function holders. As the questionnaire is long it can be flexible in its use, according to the degree of relevance of the questions to the profile of the interviewee; the questions dimmed are the most important.

ABOUT YOU

1 What do you consider to be the major mi­lestones in your career?

2 What drives you (what has driven you) to want to be a Non-Executive Director (become a Director, enter politics, have a career in the civil service…) ? Do you have (have you ever had) a particular plan/goal, one which you hold (held) close to your heart ?

WOMEN ON BOARDS

3 Which elements favour (facilitate) the entrance of a woman into a Board? (1)

A What role does the law play in the quotas for women in Boards ?

B How much influence does the professional background/expertise/participation in an Exe­cutive Committee have ?

C Are there any external factors which have helped (quotas in politics ?) ?

D What are the obstacles ?

E To what extent have your skills, expertise, background, academic qualifications hel­ped ? (2,3,4)

THE ROLE OF WOMEN ON BOARDS

4 What do you believe is the role of a Non- Executive Director ? (The idea is to obtain an explanation of the different roles, and prompt if some are “forgotten”. The goal is to obtain a general response, before going into detail. Goal is to ascertain views on the relationship between control and vision for the future).

A Which one is the most important to you ? Why ?

B Which one do you enjoy the most ?

C Which is the most difficult ? Why ?

5 In general are you more a woman of action or reflection ? What are your thoughts on the role of a CEO/Director in relation to action and reflection ?

YOUR ROLE ON A BOARD

6 How do you conceive your role and mission ? (2,3,4) What is the most difficult ?

7 Are you confronted with short or long-term opposition and how do you deal with this ?

8 Do you consider yourself as the guardian of the sustainability of the company ?

9 Do you think you contribute to change? Are there any changes which you feel more strongly about ? (The objective is to see which level of impor­tance is placed on Corporate Social Responsi­bility, long-term control, ethics, prompt on these subjects if necessary).

10 Do you find decision making hard ? How do you make your decisions (alone, collectively, advisors) ?

11 Who do you represent if you represent someone ?

A How much autonomy do you have in deci­sion-making ?

B Do you align consistently with certain individuals or groups on a Board ? (We are exploring the ability to judge and make decisions autono­mously in relation to authority and hierarchy). (1,3,4)

PARTICULAR FEMALE QUALITIES

12 Do you think women have particular qualities ? Generally they reply no but when they talk about the way they do and say things, they point out that women are more this or that (communication, sensitivity to human beings, rejection of open conflict, negotiation, courage, team spirit.…). If yes, what are these qualities ?

13 Do you think the fact that you are a woman has any effect on your role or your stature ?

14 Has the fact of being a woman led you to make certain decisions or choices (including personal or career choices) ?

SIGNIFICATION OF TERMS

15 What do the following terms mean to you: power/give example from your professional life ; authority/give example ; politics/give example influence/ give example ; courage/give example ? Are you able to distinguish or find a link between them ? This will facilitate the responses a little to this difficult question. Often they will find it difficult to explain the difference... It is important that they give examples as this helps clarify ideas. Don’t force them to want to provide “the right definition”. We are more interested in their personal interpretations. Try to identify implied positive and negative connotations. (This is the most important question).

16 Do you think power isolates ?

A What is the link between power and responsibility ?

B Which are the limits to power, legal or moral rules, which affect the exercising of power ?

WOMEN & LEVEL OF IMPORTANCE OF ASPECTS

17 Which means do women (more particularly) have at their disposal to influence the positions of those around them ?

18 What is the importance of the formal and the informal ?

19 The role of being connected/networks ? Alliances ?

20 Does complicity/solidarity among women exist ?

21 Is there sometimes competition ?

22 The relation to the Director (Managing Director, President, Party Chief) ?

23 What importance do rules have in an orga­nisation ? (1) Within a Board ?

24 Are there any (rules) which you adhere to particularly ? Which ones ?

25 Are there any rules which are not respected ? Which ones ? Why in your opinion ? What is your reaction ?

26 What significance does a company’s ethical behaviour have for you ? (1,2)

27 Where do you stand concerning a conflict of powers ?

28 Do you sometimes have the impression of being in a position of resistance by for example being opposed to a decision or to other members of the Board (1), the Directors (2), the Party (3), your hierarchy (4) ? If yes, on which occasions ? On which points ? What happens in general ?

29 Power and courage, what does that evoke?

A Do you think that the current system (broadly speaking) does not sufficiently value courage (dilution of responsibilities) ? Being in a position of power (2,4) or decision making (1,2,3), or of making recommendations (1,4)

B What would you like to change in the system ?

ANY OTHER COMMENTS ?

EXTRACTS FROM THE STUDY

Do not compromise in what you believe in ! Shawqui Ghanim

INTRODUCTION : GENDER AND POWER, IS THERE A QUESTION ?

“Companies tend to obfuscate the processes of power and desire that they encounter.... To speak of power is to raise… the possibility of the arbitrary. Additionally, they would prefer the more neutral term authority, which also includes the idea of legitimacy. However, the company is, in fact, a place of both societal and social power,” (Eugène Enriquez, Games of power and desire in the company (7)).

Since more and more women have been brought into positions of power within companies, there will henceforth be numerous challenges to the presence of women in boards (administrative councils but also executive and directors com­mittees). The initiation and progression of gender diversity now raises questions about the exercise of power. These women, do they have a different relationship with power than men ? How do wo­men grasp the notion positions of power? Is there a correlation between gender and the question of power? Do women have the opportunity to position themselves differently, and hence to promote different values, other managerial practices? Does this lead to a blended model incorporating the female quotient (8)?

What is the relevance of a theory of existence of a gender dimension? Some refuse to attribute specific qualities or behaviors to women, even while the dominant HR literature identifies in the female gender a style of leadership, or intuitive and moral qualities that are different (9) . Is there thus a different approach by women to power? If access to power is accomplished within a model that remains masculine, how do women express this paradox in their approach to power?

QUESTION : ARE QUOTAS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE ? ((is a legal ‘boost’ necessary, or do good business practices suffice)

Answer

Yes     

No       

No Answer

Total 49

29

12

8

France 26

19

4

3

Abroad 23        

10

8

5

Quotas or not, opinions and legal regulations differ among different countries, however it is a fact that these regulations can have a powerful ripple effect : The law (in France or in Norway) legitimized their desire to position themselves as potential board members “because after all, we must find women, so why not me?” The law uncomplicates the possibility of “going there, because the path has been made possible” I Bianchi. Legal intervention is a “Necessary evil,” according to MJ Zimmermann.

“Quotas, by putting legal constraints, forces entities to think about gender issue even when they despise the issue and to put in place processes to identify females’ talents when they don’t. Because it doesn’t give the choice, it also allows the development of a process that puts into question one‘s vision of what leadership is. It also forces male leaders to think out of the box on what a company needs at each level of their company and in particular at the top level. As they need to find women, they’re forced to modify their criteria of leadership (ex: time spent at the office, brutal behaviour often confused with leadership…)”, T. Samman.

It became interesting to explore women’s rela­tionship with power so as to determine whether and to what extent POWER still remains a QUASI TABOO. The objective of the study is to identify how women gain access to power, or having that access, are confronted by it; how they perceive it and how they put it into practice… A review of the literature permits the establishment of certain initial hypotheses (see the main references in the full text publication), whereas a qualitative study conducted on focused interviews has made it possible to complete them. The study was conducted on about fifty women in positions of power, and completed during group sessions (cf. Document 2 “Interviews”).

Validating gender diversity: stereotypes and impediments to the access to power

The assumption that the collective intelligence of the group is increased(10) when women rise to positions of power requires that they retain their “specific” qualities. However, western culture imposes a “male” model which dictates certain types of behaviors (11), conditions the relationship with power at the heart of the organization(12) and creates stereotypes (13), by default concerning women and power (14)).

A study conducted by the IMS-Undertaking for the City, on 908 managers, both women and men, corroborates the existence of gender ste­reotypes: For 44% of men managers and 51% of woman managers surveyed, men and women would have different professional skills. Men would represent authority and leadership, wo­men listening and empathy. These stereotypes therefore represent an impediment for women when projected onto positions of power. Thus, women would have a more complicated and less obvious relationship to power.

Mix and risk of deviance linked to the posture of minority

What’s more, HR studies establish that the “mi­norities” within a dominant group are subjected to rejection or avoidance (Moscovici Serge, 1996). As a result, there’s a risk that minorities will attempt to conform to the majority group, in this case adopting masculine norms. In fact, women managers are poorly perceived,
espe­cially when they become more masculine. The previously cited study established that for more than half the polled managers, the women who manage to achieve a highly responsible position end up behaving like men. “This denial of their feminine identity can have psychologically ra­vaging consequences” (Claire Chevalier and Soraya Khadir)
(15).

1/ AN AMBIGUOUS RELATIONSHIP WITH POWER 

1.1.    The ambition to have a power “to act” rather than power for its own sake

Work done on management identifies that male norms tend to lead to a quest for power for power’s sake – the power to “be,” compared to a “feminine” power model to “act”. In “And what if women reinvented work ? (16)” , Cristina Lunghi affirms that one must not believe that women do not appreciate power, but that they like it so they can get things done, rather than for its external show, or just to have it. “The attributes of power for men are status, the signing power, and formal prerogatives. Women give precedence to free­dom of action, decision power, and the ability to get things done”. “Women tend to associate power with all its’ negative aspects: rejection, force, personal gain, loneliness, conflict, autho­ritarianism, abuse of power,” I .Bianchi.

1.2.    A career not motivated by or necessarily based on the attraction of power, but rather influenced by the desire to do good

The great majority of women actually state that they do not build their career in connection with an aspiration to power.

“No career plans, because it is an ‘impediment to freedom’”,

“I have always done what I loved”,

“I have let things come all along my path. I let my instinct and my desires guide me, I have always en­deavored to have fun in my successive positions”

“I trust on Carpe Diem; if you do your work well, new possibilities will occur”

“Frankly, I have never had any particular plan/goal for my career. I have been convinced that if you deliver properly on your plans new exciting challenges will come up”,

“The only goal I had when I started my career was to become an executive. Once I got the executive role, I didn’t worry so much about my career and was more focused on helping others achieve their career aspirations through coaching and mentoring”,

But wanted to or were willing to contribute:

“The enterprise… should in a country such as ours regain its [letters of] nobility. I wanted to participate in the work of (re)construction,” S. Lochmann.

“The notion of commitment is important for many women; being able to participate in a collective initiative, and to diversify their activities” I.Bianchi.

“To have more positive influence in the world and to make a significant contribution,” C. Peters.

“I never drove to become an ED as a clear game plan, only looked for the opportunity to have a position that would allow me to influence and develop people independent of which position I could do that from,” I.Ramos Chavez.

QUESTION : DO WOMEN DELIBERATELY PLAN THEIR RISE TO THE RANKS OF POWERFUL POSITIONS ?

Answer

Yes         

No           

No Answer

Total 49

9

29

11

France 26

4

15

16

Abroad 23        

5

14

4

 

1.3. The battle for power, a masculine reality that women confront with difficulty - Women and ambition, a relationship with connotations

Ambition still carries different connotations for women than for men: “There are mechanisms that are in motion. Unconsciously, one gives different connotations to adjectives, depending on whether they qualify a woman or a man,” as is the case for “ambitious, seen as more favorable when referring to a man than a woman,” Dominique Maire (17) .

A woman in a position of power is almost instantly “scrutinized,” not only for her capability to manage, but also specifically for the manner in which she will use her power.

Jacques de Coulon, philosopher, states “in a society still very marked by the male paradigm, a woman is a threat”.

“I don’t like the stereotype according to which a woman has a lower preference for competition, because it is not true; but a woman who likes competition and makes it known seems strange,” V.Rocoplan.

“Another obstacle is that women often say no to new challenges. There exists an obvious lack of ambition”.

More or less disguised opposition to feminine authority

“Women are appreciated and kept in the role of number 2, but denigrated as the number 1”. As an Assistant General Director, woman may not be subjected to specific treatment – until she moves up to the role of General Director!,” E.Gagliardi.

“Initially, it is to be accepted, to be heard ... to stand-up against the predominantly male group. After that, we must keep on track ; not be swayed or manipulated, stay true to oneself, and be prepared that others may oppose our views. “ I.Bianchi.

“The career in large consulting firms involves an ongoing war for power” ... “The higher you climb, the rarer the positions, and the fiercer the violence” Armelle Carminati-Rabasse (18).

“We live in male power place...Women are not naturally considered as potential leaders by male CEOs, because they are still driven by criteria based on “manhood” values and reflexes to promote what resembles them (ie alleged male behaviour of strength). In this context, Women not matching the dominant male idea of leadership...assets to be identify as potential leaders ...male colleagues with “natural” i.e. brutal skills”, T.Samman

2/ AN APPRENTICESHIP SEIZING POWER THROUGH COMPETENCE IN ORDER TO EXERCISE IT DIFFERENTLY

2.1. A troublesome access to power

A price to pay: loss of serenity

When you aim to be a leader, you must accept that there will be a human cost, that you must accept blows and betrayal… There is a price to be paid in order to achieve a position of power. What’s more, power can create an addiction linked with adrenaline and a narcissistic pursuit. However, a woman’s perspective on power is different. The women interviewed indicated that they had sought power in order to achieve self-realization by means of a collective project, as part of a quest for meaning. Women in power therefore experience particular challenges to their very identity – remaining a woman while taking on a man’s responsibilities results in a fundamental ambivalence.

“Women sometimes think that power comes at a high price and it will not make them happy, which is why some women, in a preventative measure, relinquish power I.Bianchi.

A power that isolates

Power isolates “Enormously, which is what I hate”. “Power isolates, as when one exercises power on makes decisions alone. One is the final decision-maker. The responsibility for the decision is singular”, Anonymous 1. “Yes, it isolates. The manager is surrounded by quality teams, but decisions are made alone. One has to have the capability to resist the courtiers”. “ Power isolates, of course, and the risk is that it may lead to a deeper but narrower perception of reality. This is why those in power need to avoid surrounding themselves with acolytes and yes-people”, Anonyme 3 .

“Of course power isolates, but less for women than for men as they are less carried away by power games”, I. de Kerviler.

“The vast majority of people that I coach face this isolation,” C. Peters

QUESTION : DOES POWER CREATE A FEELING OF ISOLATION ?

Answer

Yes          

No          

No Answer

Total 49

29

14

6

France 26

21

4

1

Abroad 23        

8

10

5

Fear of, hate for, or simple lack of interest in power games

From a fear of conflict or simply the feeling that it is useless and that it is possible to proceed differently, women seek mediation rather than confrontation, without however hesitating to assert their position (or opposition).

“It can be a waste of time”. “Concerning power conflicts, I try to understand the position of others, I express my own, I try to bring both of them to the forefront in the best interest of the company”. “Rather than being in conflict, I prefer to take the position of arbitrator”. “I have already stood up against a decision, and note that courage is of greater importance amongst women in this regard, with the capability to challenge and confront a company’s position”. “I do not try to avoid battles… I have been known to strongly express disagreement when decisions went against my values. In such cases… I try… to use argument, to convince, and to find allies,” A.Bricard.

“To decide is to make choices, it is to arbitrate, and also to eliminate or give up other solutions. It is sometimes also to oppose a group or current opinion, and one needs to be capable of resisting influences and pressure from others,” C. Ladousse.

“One must know how to stand-up for ones views when it is for a good reason”, MJ.Zimmermann.

“I would like to avoid conflict of powers by anticipating events but sometimes a little conflict is needed to create positive tension as long as its handled appropriately”, I. Ramos Chavez.

“I’m among the lucky ones who can play with men’s rules (no reluctance to talk loudly, strong voice, no shyness to express opinion while political enough to know what I can or cannot afford to do). I usually engage into a fight when I think it is important. I also learned to choose my fight according to the level of importance (you can’t win all battle or even put energy in everything). I can fight hard”, T. Samman.

QUESTION : DO YOU FEEL AT EASE WHEN CONFRONTED WITH A SITUATION OF CONFLICT ? DO YOU DEAL WITH THE SITUATION EASILY ?

Answer

Yes          

No           

No Answer

Total 49

20

14

15

France 26

13

8

5

Abroad 23          

7

6

10

2.2. A POWER THAT CAN BE TAMED

“A taste for leadership… their conscience… that of which they are capable is revealed progressively… while at the same time they feel their skills and their self-assurance consolidating,” Sylvie Gisbert (19).

Let us also quote Anne Cécile Sarfati and Hervé Gattegno: “it seems that women who have achieved positions of power exercise it with pleasure, and they allow themselves to ‘speak of it freely, to explain what suffering… doubts… of mixed pride are made their victories’… They admit, without downplaying their distress and frustrations, … admit to their fragility” (19).

The phenomenon of rarity

The risk of male assimilation. The male environment on which they must impose themselves often forces women to “cross the line” of their authority, … go against their nature, showing themselves as tougher than they really are, or than they would want to be, Sylvie Gisbert (21).

To which some have learned to resist. Women freely evoke female characteristics that they regard as qualities. The issue is therefore to resist the dominant peer pressure in order to preserve and to develop her special attributes.

“Follow your inner impulses, do not let yourself be influenced by the social point of view,” Nathalie Mesny (22).

“Women approach power differently to men: for women, it is more of a capacity to create, to do, to act, rather than to have a power over others. Power is a way to act for the common good, to make progress I.Bianchi.

Answer

Yes           

No           

No Answer

Total 49

36

7

6

France 26

18

6

2

Abroad 23          

18

1

4

“Feminine” qualities cited by the interviewees…

Greater ability to listen, capability to more completely analyze subjects, and a middle of the road perspective.

A perception of the concrete, motivated by a common interest, daring to ask questions (of HR specifically), keeping their ego out of the way

More intuitive, more informal

More collective, using less unverifiable assertions, more courageous, more able to think freely

More pragmatic, to the point, not caught in role-play, sincere, conscientious

It’s difficult to generalize, but women are generally more frank, more pressured and more caught up in the action.

Women work very hard.

Women do things for the company and not for appearances. She has a real concern about making things move forward, they are less into politics and their personal positioning. They bring more objectivity and sense of the practical. Women are idealists and impassioned.

Less tactless, more preoccupied by the power to achieve results

S. Lochmann : Numerous psychological studies demonstrate that the male and female brains work in different ways… Qualities: sense of communication, sensitivity to the human aspect, rejection of open confrontation, negotiation, courage, a sense of the collective

A. Arcier : Capable of cooperation and compromise, better ability to anticipate through listening and intuition, better sense of the concrete

S. Auconie : pugnacious, loyal, they defend the “cause”

I. de Kerviller : listening ability, practical sense

M.J Zimmermann : Women make their decisions with more perspective, having weighed-up things

E. Gagliardi : responsible, in search of the concrete

A. Bricard : Women have by necessity a better ability to listen since in their feminine culture they have learned to “listen” to the man (the father, the husband, the son), they have a greater capability to challenge their perceptions as they have a less developed ego. And finally, since they place the general interest above their own, they are less career-oriented, less calculating, they don’t hesitate to tell the truth even if it may be upsetting.

I. Bianchi : It is primarily the attitudes and traits of women that are different ... their minority position and the deep feeling they may never be up to par has led them to develop strategies to overcome the challenges, as well as the development of certain traits: more humble, perfectionism, better ability to challenge, team player. Women are more caring, generous, humble, pragmatic, rigorous, more human, better listeners, more innovative and less conformist, more connected to their emotions, less cynical, less impulsive.

C. Ladousse : … Emotion, often perceived as a weakness, can be a strength if one knows how to master it in order to channel one’s energy and develop empathy in one’s relationship with others. It is through emotions shared about values that one can also guide and convince a team, instead of relying only on the power of ideas.

Anonymous 2 : Women are more practical than men; they can organize and implement things in an efficient way, often, they possess more ‘emotional intelligence’ than men, they have a high degree of commitment, they are more ‘straight-forward’ in inter-personal relations; they do not pretend to know everything.

C. Peters : not necessarily by genetics, but more by education and cultural roles that are entrusted to them, which…give them particular ways of thinking, considerations, interest, life positioning.

I. Ramos Chavez : higher levels of empathy, capability to relate many things , more prone to be able to work out flow of things (more comprehensive end to end view, higher focus on team success

Women are often more sensitive, emotional, self-aware and self-critical. There is much self-reflection and self-analysis.

A woman tends to be more easily multidimensional and reflective, whilst men tend to be more directly goal-oriented, unilateral.

Men & women are different. Approaching qualities & characteristics are different. Women are more considering/ teamwork/ less aggressive/ more eager to deal with conflicts. Women bring different opinions.

But, as M. Dubouloy warns: “be wary of stereotypes!”, as well as V. Rocoplan “I prefer to talk of male and female polarities”, and others who do not see any differences between female and male qualities.

T. Samman : I found this question pretty dangerous as it usually justifies discriminations based on respective male and females skills and talents. It usually justifies male promotion and women are allegedly more “altruist, patient, understanding” while men are more pushy and manage to get rewarded more quickly.

Anonymous 1: I can’t think of any differences between men and women that I would like to put forward

Anonymous 5: No, when faced with power, Men and Women are the same; there is no “personality” typically male or female.

There is no such thing as Feminine Management style or attitude. The behavior, the style, both depend on the personality and the experience. The gender is just an aspect of Diversity, as is Nationality. When they take the floor, women are perhaps more in control and focused on the topic, since they are more focused on the basic subject matter, and more concrete; they always do their “homework” well before the administrative councils.

Anonymous 4: Not really, I believe we all have a certain set of qualities not always connected to the sex if we have been raised in an equal manner. Sometimes women are better communicators.

The reliance on skills provides legitimacy

“Past professional experience and expertise play a very important role in acquiring legitimacy that does not depend solely on quotas. Women are often judged on their experience and ‘accomplishments’, whereas men sometimes have the privilege of being judged on their potential. Women have no room for error”. “I was always chosen based on my skills”, Anonymous 5. “Women are often more precise in the knowledge of their portfolios”. “For me the most difficult aspect is to have been selected as part of a quota in a parity list… It means that one is not legitimate, and has to prove one’s legitimacy twice as much as anyone else”, S. Auconie.

“But a woman can’t rest on her success – she has to perform and show up her skills all the time”.

2.3. Power, control, authority, influence: intertwined concepts

Intertwined concepts and connotations

The interviews show that representations of power are rather vague, and that establishing the differences between concepts of Power, Authority, and Influence are far from obvious for most of the interviewees. What’s more, in most cases, each of these concepts is seen rather negatively. For example, Power is associated with abuse of power and, when seen as such is not interesting to women - “Politics: it’s the dynamic around obtaining power/influence. It usually has a negative connotation as I would associate it to complicated dynamics to obtain a simple objective but I recognized this is a very negative aspect of it ,” I. Chavez Ramos.

Authority is equated with authoritarianism. “Power and Authority are generally seen by Men as linked. (Authoritarianism) – Women link Power and Influence (Conviction)” In the same way, the capacity to influence is viewed as an influence exercised “under cover” or as a pressure. However, influence is a powerful indirect force acting on the decision-maker – in an administrative council the administrator influences; in the political world it’s the “eminence grise” who does so.

(Politics – see below)

Leadership

However, certain interviewees dared to distinguish the differences between leadership and power?

“Power is the capacity to do or to decide… Authority is the capacity that one has to impose directions or to give instructions that are followed naturally… Influence is the capacity that one has to impact a decision even though one doesn’t have the power to make this decision,” S. Lochmann. “AUTHORITY must come naturally, based on trust, respect and conciliation. It is tied in with competence, communication, transparency and trust. It has to be exercised with courage, as it is a beautiful value that needs to be developed in society in the larger sense”. “I honor authority if it is responsible authority. Power is used when I have a crisis situation; otherwise using power is not good in our culture”. “The following terms: power/authority/politics/influence cannot be dissociated, they represent a whole that Anglo-Saxons call ‘leadership’,” A.Bricard.

“These concepts are interrelated: power given or conquered manifests, we gain authority by the legitimacy of our views and actions, and then we can influence and have the ability to lead,” MJ Zimmermann.

Power and the sense of responsibility

All the interviewed women share an acute sense of responsibility. It is a characteristic trait found in their responses. “I would like to see the concept of accountability spread wider to more levels of the organization,” I. Ramos Chavez.

“Power should be linked to responsibility as power is the capacity to do things which have an impact on other people’s life. Unfortunately, it is not always the case”, T.Samman.

This expression of responsibility fans out to three levels: the duty to participate in the change of a system of governance (company or political) that is not satisfactory, the absolute respect of the rules and ethical principles, and for some a specific responsibility toward other women, namely of the younger generation.

A specific responsibility linked to the power to change things

“One who holds the power also has the responsibility associated with the decisions that they make. To exercise power without taking into account the consequences and responsibilities is a major risk to the individual and to the group affected by this power,” C. Ladousse.

“Courage is the determining factor of the role of Manager”. “Women are more conscious of their responsibility even if courage is not always rewarded”, I. de Kerviller.

“My role and mission are animated by a strong conviction; nothing is more exciting, but also more difficult than to flush out the sterile patterns so as to replace them with new behaviors that create value”, A. Bricard.

“Making a decision implies having courage…(engages)”. “Women are known for their courage, they dare to confront the situation, to state things frankly in order to solve problems, even if there is resistance,” I. Bianchi.

“Women in positions of power (probably due to the their rarity) feel a special responsibility to change things,” MJ. Zimmermann.

“There is a very strong link between power and responsibility as power gives capacity to act , influence and decide therefore impacts other and creates responsibility of actions,” I. Ramos Chavez.

“Increasing power means increasing responsibility; social responsibility, responsibility for market, for shareholders, for customers”.

“I think I’m a change agent…I have questioned things in a different way, brought about new ideas, and in general maybe stimulated a more open and reflective discussion about issues. I dear to challenge some of the status quos”.

QUESTION : DOES POWER CREATE A SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY, NOTABLY WITH RESPECT TO LEADING CHANGE ? IS COURAGE REQUIRED IN EXERCISING THIS POSITION OF POWER ? (Power to do something, accountability, commitment to the public interest, courage to decide)

Answer

Yes          

No          

No Answer

Total 49

42

0

6

France 26

22

0

4

Abroad 23        

20

0

3

A powerful requirement for respect of rules and ethics

In all the interviews, a respect for rules is emphasized and acclaimed. The rules, the framework, are identified as a means of protection against arbitrariness, abuses of power of all types.

“The rules impose structure, facilitate relationships, and set limits. Women have the impression that rules are constantly broken by an informal logic of ‘power over’ and not of ‘power of’. They have suffered from this for ages, which would surely explain in part why they seek to have more rules imposed,” M.Dubouloy.

“Ethics and the law are two brakes on the exercise that I am subjected to. Another dimension which stands out for me, lies in the general interest and the balance of powers at the heart of the administrative council… The rules at the heart of the company are essential and necessary to proper functioning, to transparence, to longevity,” S. Lochmann.

“Rules are essential, so one has to overlook the application of the rules. I am particularly attached to implicit rules such as honesty and loyalty,” A. Arcier.

“The role of rules in a company is essential. Without precise rules, an organization does not have the visibility and security that individuals require in order to adhere to, and progress towards, common goals. I am very attached to those rules related to equality, justice and generosity in the sharing of results,” A. Bricard.

“Integrity constitutes an integral part of the business model, helps with the proper development of the company”.

“Questions regarding ethics, governance and fairness are very important for women, as they strive for to do business fairly, while respecting the environment in all its forms,” I.Bianchi.

“I believe in rules based systems, so a lot,” (these rules) are particularly important: Collegiality, reciprocity and transparency,” Anonymous 4. “Without rules there is anarchy and inability to sensible processes”.

“This is of utmost importance. We have to live as we have predicted in our values and ethical standards. Zero tolerance to – fraud. The ethical standards are the foundation of the company and could represent a ‘company killer’”, “Ethics behavior is an integral part of an organization. I expect ethical behavior from hierarchy; leaders should give the example in ethical behavior: advancement of staff based on merit; non-discrimination, equal treatment”, Anonymous 2.

Thus, in an administrative council, where the power play between the manager and those that supervise him or her, are complex, the independence of the administrator, an essential quality spelled out in all codes of governance (23), clashes with the manager’s desire for power. However, it has been established that women administrators resist more readily, especially that which they what they consider as not conforming to their convictions (24). In this exercise, such women wishing to maintain their status over the long term may sometimes have problems positioning themselves, since their behavior disturbs the status quo.

QUESTION : DO WOMEN FEEL PARTICULARLY ATTACHED TO RULES AND ETHICAL CONDUCT?

(Sense of fairness, morality, sense of protection for rules that protect against unfairness or arbitrary decision-making)

Answer

Yes          

No          

No Answer

Total 49

39

2

8

France 26

24

2

0

Abroad 23          

15

0

8

A specific responsibility to be exercised in favor of women: competition or solidarity ?

Notwithstanding the Queen Bee complex, which probably still exists: “ “Solidarity [among women] is still limited, because the masculine environment encourages the provocation of jealousy and the feeding of worries, and women still believe they are (or should be) rivals instead of supporting one-and-other”, I.Bianchi.

It would seem … that amongst the women having acceded to positions of power, almost all women feel now a collective responsibility: when they can, they are acting for women (25) , Anne Cécile Sarfati and Hervé Gattegno.

“The women pioneers, according to their own admissions, have for a long time worked alone. Being the first allows them to get all the attention and limelight. According to collected witness reports, many have fully savored this period of grace until they got bored with meetings attended mainly by male homologues. They have then turned their attention to the younger generation, to help them progress in their careers,” E.Gagliardi.

“I am disappointed by the behavior of some women in positions of power who are not supportive of other women, I hope this will change,” MJ. Zimmermann.

“Does complicity/solidarity among women exist? Yes certainly, often and even more than for men, in particular in the generation under 50 or 60 in a classic reaction of group with common interest. It is not of course an absolute rule but it is more true that the urban legend of women being the worst enemies of women at least in modern workplace”, T.Samman.

“In all of my actions I favor the respect of parity between men and women,” A. Bricard.

“I try to treat all employees well, to favor the advancement of women”. “I have been very conscious in promoting skilled women in my organisation. Close to 50% of mymanagement group is women... Complicity exists, yes, through network I have been able to bring forward women that have ambitions and ability to contribute”.

“Since very early on, I have shown interest in questions concerning the role of women in the enterprise, and in the solutions that have to be implemented to facilitate this equilibrium, and to give them access to management positions without at the same time sacrificing their personal lives”, C. Ladousse.

“I see myself more as an influential woman, a woman providing openings, than as a woman in power. In any case, as someone who tries to move the demarcation lines, to jostle rigidities, to overcome preconceived ideas,” Véronique Morali, President of the Women’s Forum . (26) .

3/ POWER, THE VARIATIONS LINKED TO THE SOCIO-CULTURAL SETTING

The answers obtained from the interviews held throughout the world have not made it possible to establish substantial differences on a number of important points. Consequently, these answers have been integrated during the analysis without differentiating their geographic origins.

Three poles have stood out which do not seem obviously linked to geographic zones, but more to prevalent governance traditions: an Anglo-Saxon world – a world of socialist origins -- and a world where the principle of equality between men and women is still facing a constitutional citizen battle, with all that repercussions that such a fight can have for women trying to gain access to a career.

3.1. An Anglo-Saxon governance mode

Simplified in regard to gender issues, and where the demands of good governance restrict the exercise of power, including in the arena of power conflicts

To have a career, to build it step by step, to have a clear first ambition, and to build one’s route in harmony with this ambition seems natural

“Women need to be more assertive and to take more chances”. “I always thought that I would become a CEO”. “(I had) a particular plan, YES! Learning a broad experience internationally, working with highly competent and interesting professionals and to bring this experience to service in my country”.

The awareness of differences is less pronounced, since the differences are dampened by the presence of a policy of assumed diversity

“I do not see why women would have different means than men,” Anonymous 3.

“The fact of being a woman did not lead me to make certain decisions or choices, absolutely not,” Anonymous 4.

To facilitate the entrance of a woman into power places:” Merit! Merit! Merit! Wider recognition based on achievements; hard work record and networking – to a limited extent,” Anonymous 2.

”The means (to promote) should not be different from those applied by men; apply common sense to problem solving; listen/discuss/reach consensus in decisions (if possible); do not be ‘weak’; have the courage to show determination and face conflict when necessary” Anonymous 2.

“In Finland the female and male directors are very much equal. I have never thought of myself as a “female leader”… Many times other demographics than sex are more important to the management style of a team. There are very masculine men and feminine ladies who are successful. I regard myself as the one of the team members and do not feel that I am more feminine or masculine than other people”.

Indeed, quotas are not given preference as tools for equality as they seem of little use. The only reference to the need for change and diversity, or very simply due to the fact that women represent 50% of the population, would be enough:

“I think the need for change and transformation usually drives entrance of women in a board. –“I think quota should not be imposed as it can create a negative bounce back effect on credibility,”

“The realization that 50% of talent is female, hence need for female presence to tap into talent pool.50% of the market (customers) are women”, I. Ramos Chavez.

“First of all, 50% of the overall (Employment) market place is women. Half of consumers are also women”. “There is now a more even sharing of various tasks between the genders; Market forces should prevail.” “There is a lot of chat about quotas, I alternate on this point”.

A constructed governance which limits vertical management, Thus, being in a position of power is not perceived as causing an inevitable isolation; just as conflict is better managed, lived as a simple confrontation of points of view, the governance methods provide the means to elaborate the required compromises:

“Does power isolate? Not necessarily, misuse of power certainly does isolate”, I. Ramos Chavez.

“Power does not need to isolate. It is often foolish to stand alone…There should be a responsibility to build consensus, to recognize all viewpoints”. “Not necessarily; there are several examples of powerful leaders who were at the same time active team members of the organization they were leading”, Anonymous 2.

“People in power don’t realize that they don’t have to make decisions in a vacuum”.

“I prefer the concept of differences of opinion to opposition”.

“I am often in a position of resistance, it’s my role as adviser or board member to provide such input, and to defend that position. This is part of the job as a board member, sparring, making close remarks”.

“I dare to confront things”.

“We have of course different opinions on issues even though discussions exist. When the discussion is over and the decision taken, it is over. We align to the decision and go forward”.

“Courage: speaking up even when it’s not popular”.

3.2. A setting of governance in transition

An egalitarian culture but with a governance mode that is still authoritarian where the rules are not all that clear

Most often, in Republics that are, or were previously, socialist, there is not much challenging of governance and gender, since women have in fact had access to power positions in the context of an egalitarian policy: “In China, there is an advantage for women to get job opportunities. Being a woman is not difficult. All opportunities were open to me. Gender in China has not an impact on the influence of positions”.

But interviewees have some strongly expressed questions, and express the desire for change in the way power is exercised:

“Keeping information in your own hands can often be a competition matter. I want to open transparency to everybody,”

“Many of my colleagues do not always share the rules”.

“I am more introvert in situations where the big captains are together”,

“Senior management may have a very strong view. I try to raise my opinion, try to share my perspective. If resistance continues, I try to adapt to the situation”.

“Level of understanding of Corporate Governance Principles, business culture in Russia are obstacles to (change); a lot of basic rules are not respected, for example, undertake responsibility for what you promised”,

“(The current system) does not sufficiently value courage (dilution of responsibilities), speaking about Russia – definitely”.

“In China the one rule party system is above everything whatever they say.”

“Rules and processes within the organization are important, from one point of view. However, I do not always find it comfortable to comply with them”.

A somewhat non-egalitarian world where women are pioneers (even heroes) concerned with the common good and engaged participants

“I did not have the goal to join a political party my aim was to help the society by being active in NGO’s. but when R.T.Erdoğan (PM, Leader of AKP)’ announced that he does not believe in any Gender Equality… It became inevitable to become a politician”.

“Ethics are very important to provide guidance and serve as a compass to show you the right direction. Our ideology and dreams may deviate our path and therefore we must go back to referencing for the right way from ethics”.

“When you become powerful you cannot share many decisions. Too expected to tell and not to consult much. Envy also starts from those around you”.

3.3. Power in politics, a kind of caricature

A word full of connotations in the business setting

A majority of women avoided the word [“politics”] , even though they were asked to define the concept. Those who did define it rarely associate it with “political sense,” that is as a quality of a manager of either gender:

“To be political is fundamental to gain influence (among others, in the administrative council) and women must develop this political awareness,” V. Rocoplan. – but often with “hypocrisy” The word itself creates a rejection.

“POLITICS,” it’s a word that I detest!”.

“POLITICS are opposed to courage, to convictions”.

“I hate it, for me it goes against efficiency, pragmatism, it is Machiavellian, not sincere. Politics are not rational, they are dangerous”.

“It’s a nightmare for me, it’s there that women lose out. It is not interesting, it is a battle of egos”.

“Men often have a uniquely political decoding table, whereas women reflect on it after the fact. Women are more idealistic, they take their convictions to heart, while men more easily endure unsatisfactory and compromising situations”.

“Power and politics combine notions of manipulation, domination, deceit and violence”, I. Bianchi.

“Politics are games played to gain power and influence”, C. Peters.

“Politics’ has negative connotations. One should not achieve success through means that are not right”.

“It’s a negative word for me. I don’t exercise it myself”.

Political power is close to autocracy

Women are still ultra-minorities in politics, a world dominated by men. They have an idealized version: “Politics is the science of the city, the public thing; It is essential to the management of our societies. Politics are my daily life and my appetite”, S. Auconie.

However, it is patent that in politics the manager is the boss: often narcissistic, he relies on his vision, and has a particular need to reinforce his own “self-esteem”. The followers feed him an idealized image, and to challenge him could be seen as a crime against his majesty. Women who are required to be direct have a particular difficulty in evolving in this kind of setting where there is no mechanism of governance capable of moderating the all-powerfulness of the leader. “In politics, one is constantly resisting, there is nothing but that!”, S. Auconie.

“In politics, all rules are non-written”, I. de Kerviler.

“ Politics should be the best job exercised completely in the public interest, with a vision of society in the medium to long term, however just the opposite has happened. It’s an environment of constant personal disputes and private interests”, MJ Zimmermann.

“[The] French system is very hierarchic and formal. It is like the revolution had never been done [sic]”.

Conclusion: towards a mixed or androgynous power model versus a change in mode of governance

Companies can no longer ignore the question of parity between men and women at the top of the hierarchical ladder. An implicated reflection over a better balance in terms of gender has to include a reflection over the fine points of the exercise of power. The normalization of women in power positions, the current evolution in our society with the incursion of diversity, the development of new game changing models help to overcome eventual contradictions in still badly received or even rejected notions of the power of women.

However, the personal motivation of women seems to be better adapted to the more flexible company model required by current evolutions:

- The engine of power gives way in favor of responsibility, that value of example takes the baton from speech (“To have a vision…to communicate this vision, to take the team with you…”, C. Peters).

-A more emotional way of thinking is more in step with a humanist leadership, which integrates rationality and intuition, and takes measured taking of risks instead of testosterone-based decisions. The ideal manager of either gender must henceforth be able to blend the male skills (charisma, leadership, impartiality, decision making capability…) with the female (relationality, empathy, listening, organization, knowledge…): an androgynous model of power is born – or is in the process of being born – which requires the capability of conviction. “In more advanced companies the moment is approaching where men and women working together will open new trajectories and a different creation of values,” Marie Boy (27).

“Instead of forcing women to adopt male behavior in order to accede to power, why not encourage men to develop more feminine types of behavior? This time is no longer for dueling, but rather for duality”, Rafik Smati (28).

“A woman sometimes has a greater capacity to surround herself with a team that will be able to talk to her, to tell her what is really going on; decisions made in the feminine are sometimes more collegiate.”

“There is an obvious complementarity between men and women allowing them to produce more profound changes, gently”.

“Interesting to note that Human Resources and leadership identification academics and experts agree today that the distributive leadership is proven as the most efficient (see the McKinsey report Women’s matter in this regard)”, T. Samman.

It is finally, as has been seen throughout the interviews, the ability to accept, accompany, anticipate change which is challenged here: “Change is a critical part of my role… I feel strongly about how change is done. A lot of the facets of companies and corporations have continuous change so I think it is very important the way in which we manage change, in order to make it a positive and productive experience that creates value for the company and for the individuals”, I. Ramos Chavez.

Change in the governance model, where the decision maker accepts to be surrounded with associates, to be accompanied, and challenged : “Good leaders, regardless of gender, create an atmosphere where it is ok to ask for help”. “I do use a circle of trusted advisors to make my decision, it’s important to be aware that you can’t manage a business alone”.

Change of perspective of the business horizon which integrates perennial governance in step with stakeholders, and rewards the risks taken related to change:

“Women may have a longer term view, so give a greater weighting to sustainability issues over short term advantage”.

“I have engineered change specifically in internal and external communication, governance and social responsibility”.

“We should have a system where you are really encouraged and valued for… taking initiatives, challenging status quos etc. Trial and errors should be more respected as a way of learning and operating. E.g. in many of our systems it’s not wise, nor does it pay off challenging status quos, and we need people who do that”.

“There is a need to do the right thing in the long term for employees, loyalty is important. I would like to do more with the company brand philanthropically. I believe in long term win/win business”.

“I am strictly focused on a sustainable development and I am working along different axes to be sure that we achieve that goal. It is important to increase value to the shareholders of the company, but it is also important the way we do it and how we act in the society”.

*The complete study will further develop the technical aspects relating to questions of gender equality and the functioning of boards, and will be published in near future.

I would like to do more with the company brand philanthropically. I believe in long term win/win business”. “I am strictly focused on a sustainable development and I am working along different axes to be sure that we achieve that goal. It is important to increase value to the shareholders of the company, but it is also important the way we do it and how we act in the society”.

*The complete study will further develop the technical aspects relating to questions of gender equality and the functioning of boards, and will be published in near future.

The Alumni of the Programme were asked to reflect upon the theme of “ Women and their relationship to power’ in a brainstorming session on September 20, with the participation of ‘Le cercle Gouvernance et Equilibre “

The word “ Governance “ because it deals with the processes of power within corporations and “ Balance “ is about diversity in terms of gender, nationality, age and background.


YES

NO

NO ANSWER


Study France

Study Abroad

Alumni WBEBR

Study France

Study Abroad

Alumni WBEBR

Study France

Study Abroad

Study WBEBR

Are quotas utmost importance

73%

43%

100%

15%

35%

0%

12%

22%

0%

Did you deliberately build your career towards a powerful position?

15%

22%

43%

58%

61%

43%

27%

17%

14%

Does power creates a feeling of isolation?

81%

35%

71%

15%

43%

29%

4%

22%

0%

Are you at ease when confronted with conflict?

50%

30%

0%

31%

26%

100%

19%

43%

0%

Do you think that women have particular/specific qualities or attributes ?

69%

78%

57%

23%

4%

43%

76%

17%

0%

Does power create a specific responsibility, with respect to leading change ?

85%

87%

100%

0%

0%

0%

15%

13%

0%

Do you feel particularly attached to rules and ethical conduct ?

92%

65%

100%

8%

0%

0%

0%

35%

0%












VERBATIMS

“Power does not necessarily cause a feeling of isolation. It can also be exerted in a collective manner. It’s typically French, or Continental (Europe) to have a vertical model of power”.

“One must have courage to express their beliefs. Women are more at ease with this, even if they don’t like conflict, and try to avoid it if possible”.

“It is not that we are afraid of conflict; it’s just that it is not our way to define ‘leadership’. It is not an objective in itself”.

“At a certain management level, women have fought to be able to get to their position. They have, therefore, developed ‘masculine’ traits.”

“We must also recognise certain female weaknesses: absence of self-confidence, the ‘imposter complex’, the absence of a ‘career plan’… and, above all, the difficulty that we experience when needing to delegate”.

“There is a difference between rules (processes) and ethics. I am rather attached to moral and ethical codes, but much less attached the rules that need to exist, but that also need to evolve”.

“Unfortunately, not all women actually respect the rules and business ethics. They can be just as bad as, if not worse, than men, despite what they preach”.

The members of the European Network for Women in Leadership (WIL) reflected upon the findings of the study in a workshop held on the 21 September.

All of these women are already involved in a professional network that strives for the advancement of women in the corporate world, which has lead to a strong awareness of the relationship women have with power, making them capable of deep reflexion.


YES

NO

NO ANSWER


Study France

Study Abroad

WIL

Study France

Study Abroad

WIL

Study France

Study Abroad

WIL

Are quotas utmost importance

73%

43%

83%

15%

35%

13%

12%

22%

4%

Did you deliberately build your career towards a powerful position ?

15%

22%

13%

58%

61%

75%

27%

17%

13%

Does power creates a feeling of isolation ?

81%

35%

33%

15%

43%

42%

4%

22%

25%

Are you at ease when confronted with conflict ?

50%

30%

67%

31%

26%

4%

19%

43%

29%

Do you think that women have particular/specific qualities or attributes ?

69%

78%

68%

23%

4%

0%

76%

17%

32%












VERBATIMS

Role of Quotas

With quotas, we don’t level down, we level up; quotas enables an increase in the level for everyone.

Deliberate career building

“I feel that at different stages of our lives, we change the way we ‘plan’ our careers.”

“We normally start by taking positions without really thinking of the career consequences, then, with age and experience, we start to think more about the way we should be building our career.”

“I haven’t always chosen the best paid positions. My job must have a reason behind it: I need to enjoy going to work, to know that I’m getting up every morning for a good reason. If not, it’s hard to stay in a position. I think that one can certainly be tactical in her behaviour, but not when it comes choosing her job”.

“Questioning the purpose of a job comes later in one’s career. For me, it is possible to combine both: have a clear vision of a possible career, and at the same time, keep an open mind to different opportunities.”

“If a certain job is ‘useful’, but there is there is no way to give the job some interest, I will not take the job.”

“Why do we concentrate on the word “ opportunity “, and we don’t mention “ risk taking “? Faced with conformism, risk taking could also be a promising opportunity.”

“The risk with this type of discussion: is to give men the argument that “women do not actively plan their career in an ambitious way”. We must be careful !”

“In the USA, it’s easier for a woman to say ‘I am career-orientated’, even if she has gaps in her CV. In Europe, these gaps are looked-up in a negative light, but we are not supposed to say that we are ‘ambitious’”

“I can understand why women at the European Commission say that they have been able to clearly build and plan a career – these institutions are amenable to this sort of “planned ambition”, however this is much less the case in large companies.”

Power, and possible conflicts

“If I can, I avoid conflict, but when the moment arrives that I have to deal with it – I enjoy it !”

“It is not possible to get to a management position if we are not strategic in the way that we approach conflict. It would be naïve to think otherwise.”

“I don’t think that not feeling at ease with confronting conflict is necessarily a feminine quality, maybe more of a cultural one, as well depending on individual people”

“In France, there is potential conflict between “power” and “collective involvement”, but there is not necessarily an automatic opposition – there are examples on Board’s where the two attributes can work very successfully together.”

“When talking about power, we should take into account the “women behind the scenes”, who have great influence.”

“… we should also take into account the power to annoy” (laughs)

“ Feminine “ Qualities

“The problem posed when we start to talk about the different qualities between men and women, is that, from the outset, we are defining men and women as different, which is in fact creating the very difference that we are trying to avoid”.

“We cannot say ‘ men are like this, and women like this’ ; we instead need to talk about masculine and feminine qualities and polarities – otherwise we risk to stereotype the sexes, which is not going to help the progression of gender equality”.

“Women often feel compelled to justify those choices that are not necessarily inspired by the public interest”.

Responsibility with respect to leading change

“It has happened that I have taken a position for the pure reason to lead change in a business unit, although the rest of the team didn’t want to change anything. Change is a key point in a company, but very often, those who have the power don’t want to lead any change”.

Moving Forward

“We must keep in mind family circumstances. It is a real issue regarding female career progression, because there is more pressure on women when they temporally stop working (due to having children)”.

“We must quickly work on changing the “ leadership “ model, to move on from the old one and onto a more idealist one”.

“It would be interesting to know what a panel of men thinks about the results of this study”.

“The financial crisis has changed the way men conceive power, this phenomenon has given them some time to reflect regarding the way they exercise power”.

“We have a responsibility and a role to play vis-à-vis the younger generations. We have to help them to be strategic, to embrace their professional visibility, to become more employable. We should play the role of a mentor!”.

NOTES

(2) W. Pollack, Real Boys New-York, Henry Holt and Company, 1999 R.F. Levant, K. Richmond “A Review of Research on Masculinity Ideologies Using the Male Role Norms Inventory”, The Journal of Men’s Studies, vol 15, N°2, March 2007, PP.130-146. Cf aussi M. Kimmel, The Gendered Society (New-York, Oxford Press University, 2004).

(3) D.L. Collinson, J. Hearn, “Breaking the Silence on Men Masculinities and Management” in Men as Managers, Managers as Men, Critical Perspectives on Men, Masculinities and Management (London Sage, 1996, PP. 1-24).

(4) V.L.Brescoll,E.L.Uhlmann,”Can an Angry Woman Get Ahead? Status Conferral, Gender and Expression of Emotion in the Workplace”, Psychological science, vol 19,N°3 (March 2008)p .268-275.

(5) “Le quotient féminin de l’entreprise, question de dirigeants [The female quotient in the enterprise, a question of management], éditions Village mondial, Agnès Arcier, 2002

(6) The full text study will be treated in a subsequent academic publication, which will further develop the technical aspects relating to questions of gender equality and the functioning of boards.

(7) “Comités Executifs -Voyage au coeur de la dirigeance,” [Executive Committees—Journey through the heart of management] collected works published by Eyrolles, 2007, p.166

(8) “Le quotient féminin de l’entreprise, question de dirigeants [The female quotient in the enterprise, a question of management], éditions Village mondial, Agnès Arcier, 2002

(9) “Grandir comme dirigeant” [To mature as a manager], Louis Dugas, in Voyage au Coeur de la dirigeance [Journey through the heart of management], février 2007, Eyrolles.

(10) Woolley, Chabris, Pentland, Hashmi and Malone, Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups, Sciencexpress, 30 septembre 2010.

(11) W.W.Pollack, Real boys, (New York , Henry Holt and Company, 1999R.F. Levant ,K Richmond, ”A Review of Research on Masculinity Ideologies Using the Male Role Norms Inventory” ,The Journal of Men’s Studies vol 15, N°2(March 2007)p. 130-146

(12) D.LCollinson, J.Hearn, “ Breaking the Silence, on Men Masculinities and Management”, in Men as Managers, Managers as Men, Critical Perspectives on Men, Masculinities and Management (London Sage, 1996, p.1-24)

(13) A stereotype is an ensemble of beliefs relating to the characteristics or attributes of a group. It is natural, positive or negative, not necessarily wrong, and can be personal and/or shared.

(14) V.L.Brescoll,E.L.Uhlmann,”Can an Angry Woman Get Ahead? Status Conferral, Gender and Expression of Emotion in the Workplace”, Psychological Science, vol. 19, N°3 (March 2008) p.268-275

(15) Les stéréotypes sur le genre, IMS-Entreprendre pour la Cité, mai 2012.

(16) Et si les Femmes réinventaient le travail “, Cristina Lunghi, présidente d’Arborus, Éditions L’Organisation, p.201

(17) Femmes d’Altitude [Women with attitude], Sylvie Gilbert, Les Belles Lettres, mars 2012, p.73

(18) Note 11, p.73

(19) Note 14, p.35

(20) Note 11

(21) Note 14, p.74

(22) Note 14, p.XV

(23) [As an example we will cite the Recommendation for independent managers of the european commission], 2005/162/EC of 15 February 2005 (OJ L 52, 25.2.2005, p. 51–63). 11

(24) Woolley, Chabris, Pentland, Hashmi and Malone, Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups, Sciencexpress, 30 septembre 2010.

(25) Note 11

(26) Note 11, p.310

(27) Note 20, p.194 ; (28) Note 20, p.114