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The Global Summit of Women and what we learnt

I have just spent a couple of mind-stretching days attending the Global Summit of Women. Themed, Women: Creating Economies of Shared Value, this is Australia’s first time hosting the annual event, which has been running for 23 years.

We heard from many powerful, progressive and brave women from around the world. There was so much to take in and absorb that I have called on a few of my wonderful associates and friends who also attended the conference, and we have collaborated to share our key take-outs with you.

Here they are …

Irene Natividad, the ‘pocket rocket’ President of the Global Summit of Women, shared some powerful data in her opening address, which really resonated with Diana Ryall.

With so much power in the hands of politicians and board members I was particularly interested in the statistics and changes in female board members. Europe is far ahead of the Americas and Asia Pacific with 32.1% female board members versus 24.5% and 7.4% respectively.

women in senior roles

The success of quotas is clear; on average those countries with mandated quotas are at 33% versus other countries at 17.1%.

France is leading the pack in Europe with 43.4% female board members.

The vibrant presentation by Louise Beveridge who sits on the Advisory Board for Ethics and Boards from France further unpacked the framework for their success. Two simple penalties for not achieving the quota of 40%: Board decisions are voided and Board Directors are no longer paid!

Naomi Menehem was inspired and touched many times over the course of the Summit. 1,250 women, 67 countries, and so many stories. The session that seems to have impacted me most was ‘Using the internet to Amplify Female Role Models’. As Kirstin Ferguson reminded us, we are all role models to someone (even ourselves) and how the internet makes it so easy to find women doing the extra-ordinary and celebrate them. A practice I am now committing to!

Nicole Brown had a couple of key take outs, so I didn’t make her choose just one. These are: Chiquita King, managing partner, DDB Sydney was part of a discussion on re-imagining women’s markets.  She reminded us of Anna Lappe’s words “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want”.  In the context of women driving up to 80% of consumer purchasing decisions, this was a great reminder to me that we can choose to spend, invest and donate our money to help support other women: we can choose to buy from businesses owned by women or that have effective policies on inclusion.  We can donate to charities like Dress for Success and invest in companies with a gender diverse board.

During Saturday morning’s breakfast panel discussion on the role of the media, Stan Grant implored us to “read beyond your natural inclination” and to think critically about the issues presented in the media.  In a world where we are increasingly being served target news or fake news via social media algorithms, this was a great reminder of the value of reading widely, but also seeking out different points of view including those that you might not agree with. 

For me, there were two stand out sessions, ‘Why Millennials are critical to 21st Century Economies’, and the ‘Women CEO Forum: Defining the Workplace of the Future’. In fact the conversations were not dissimilar in topic, but with the views coming from women from diverse generations, and with a very consistent message about the future. That message, in my words … Artificial Intelligence (AI), ultra-high tech and rapid pace are all givens for the future of work. Purpose, social conscience and soft skills, such as compassion and empathy, will be the drivers of success.

As Sally Brauer sums up …What we have seen and heard is that women are doing phenomenal things all over the world – they are having a positive impact on communities, environment, politics, business and the economy. For our global well-being, prosperity and sustainability, it is critical that women are sitting at the table with men as equals.

Next year the Summit heads to Switerland, so if our experience of the Summit has inspired you, pop it on your list!

Until next time,


Amanda Webb

Amanda Webb is a highly experienced and respected Human Resources practitioner and CEO of Xplore.
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