Gender equality in the workplace isn’t a ‘nice-to-have’, it’s an absolute essential. Experience has proven that offering better career opportunities for women and increasing gender diversity in the workplace leads to greater productivity, more innovation, and improvement in a company’s overall performance.
ExxonMobil is keenly aware of this, and we have long been committed to supporting women’s leadership in our company. We’ve been showing leadership on diversity beyond the walls of our offices, laboratories and facilities – by supporting initiatives to empower women and enable them to be change-makers in many of the countries where we do business. We also take part in key events such as the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society.
The 2018 Women’s Forum Global Meeting in Paris attracted over 2,500 women and men from 90 countries, including more than 230 speakers, and focused on a theme of “bridging humanity for inclusive progress”. The forum aims to harness the power of both men and women to accelerate change in an era of disruption, discuss solutions to prepare for the future of work, and add value by prompting delegates to take action.
We asked some of ExxonMobil’s delegates to tell us what the Women’s Forum is, why it’s such an important gathering, and what it means to them personally to attend this innovative and fast-growing global conference.
ExxonMobil has been involved in the Women’s Forum since 2009, and in 2018 we were a Gold Sponsor. Every year, the Forum brings together business leaders, international institutions and non-government organisations from around the world – to discuss current challenges such as education, access to energy, and sustainable development.
The Forum’s aim is not to look only at ‘women’s issues’, but rather to look at the opportunities that the world presents, through a female lens, whilst fostering debate and leadership discussions about gender diversity. ExxonMobil’s 2018 delegation included 25 participants who reflected the company’s diverse businesses, functions and geographies – including some of our most senior leaders.
Janet Matsushita, EMEAP Refining Director, participated in the plenary session “Women leading the charge: Reimagining access to clean energy”, together with Rachel Kyte, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, and Judith Hartman, Deputy Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer of ENGIE. Janet shared her personal experience as an illustration of the importance of women pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) careers, and presented some examples of ExxonMobil’s research in cleaner energy provision, focusing on algae biofuels and carbon capture.
The Forum welcomes male delegates too – and Philippe Ducom, President of ExxonMobil Europe, represented the company at the Forum’s CEO Champions meeting. “I was proud to think out of the box and to participate, with more than 50 senior leaders representing a large cross-section of the economy, in the CEO Champions initiative,” Philippe said. “This high-level international platform was an opportunity for me to underscore ExxonMobil’s commitment to gender diversity and inclusion, as well as taking a leadership role in society.”
Discussion of diversity at the Forum ranged beyond questions of gender. In one panel session, Loraine Phillips, Executive Site Manager of ExxonMobil’s EMEA R&D hub in Brussels, the European Technology Centre, talked with the Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at BNP Paribas about the importance of “bridging the generation gap”. Their discussion focused on how companies need to work to not only be diverse in terms of gender, but also in terms of age.
During a session in partnership with Michelin, Wade Maxwell, Vice-President for Fuels EMEA highlighted how leading companies are transforming mundane items into the sustainable techno-champions of the future. He illustrated ExxonMobil’s innovative nature by explaining the company’s work in researching algae as a source of biofuel.
As ever, the Women’s Forum 2018 brought our delegates opportunities to build bridges at a great many levels – professionally and personally, intellectually and practically. We greatly look forward to continuing our involvement with the Forum in the years to come.