The Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society brings together diverse perspectives from business, government and academia. The Forum’s annual Global Meeting looks at the world’s challenges through a female lens and shares ideas for how to tackle them. However, despite its name and purpose, the Forum is firmly welcoming of both women and men. 

“I feel so very proud and privileged, because we’ve got a manufacturing representation from Gravenchon attending the Women’s Forum and it’s probably our largest ever,” said Sebastien Ferard, process manager and operations director at ExxonMobil’s manufacturing complex in Gravenchon, France. That’s a very strong signal of how we want to get manufacturing sites to further embrace the inclusion and diversity topic. 

Sebastien travelled to the Forum to hear new ideas for how to promote diversity and share his own perspective. “What I was asked was simply to soak, think and reflect,” he said on his way to the conference. We joined Sebastien on his visit, to find out some of the things he discovered and see how the Forum helps delegates share knowledge: 

Sebastien was greatly influenced by many of the people he met and heard speak. After one particular plenary session, he told us: “I have really experienced a senior leader being totally authentic and transparent about his own feelings on stage in front of a large audience. It was just amazing and outstanding to see the positive impact it had on all of us. For me, that was really a plea and a call for men to display much more authentic and transparent behaviour.   

More than 25 delegates from ExxonMobil went to the Forum this year – creating the opportunity not only for them to engage with new perspectives outside the company, but also to collaborate with colleagues in diverse roles within our own business. For the second year running, we were proud to be a gold sponsor of the event and we offer our thanks to all those who participated and helped create such a valuable exchange of ideas. 

“The first thing I’m going to do when I get back to the plant in Gravenchon,” Sebastien said on the last day of the Forum, is to not only be an ally for women’s development, but to really act as a leader, as a visible sponsor committed to achieve true gender diversity in the managerial positions at the site. 


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