March 31, 2015; No. CCXXVIII

No. CCXXVIII; March 31, 2015
Special Edition: Global Summit of Women 2015


The U.S. business community has been riveted by the sex discrimination case filed by venture capital junior partner Ellen Pao, who lost her case in the courtroom, but who ‘won’ in the court of public opinion.  She is the new ‘Anita Hill” who opened wide how women are treated in the technology industry based in Silicon Valley, in the same way that Anita Hill’s testimony against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas defined what ‘sexual harassment’ meant.

The slights and sharp elbows Ellen Pao suffered were not ‘illegal’ in the eyes of the law, but in the aggregate, they created a hostile environment that many women understood all too well – the non-inclusion in important meetings and outings with clients, the sexist remarks, the conflicting evaluations which defined her as both too timid and too aggressive, the lack of transparency on how promotions were made in Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital company in which she worked.   Unprecedented media coverage in the U.S. showed the importance of the case, and all declared that Silicon Valley personnel practices will never be the same after this case.  (Source:  “A Woman Disrupts How Silicon Valley Does Business,” New York Times, March 29, 2015)

Now, new discrimination suits have been filed by women at Twitter and Facebook.  Both these companies at the time of their IPO launches were ‘shamed’ by the media into appointing women directors when they were asked why there were no women on their boards when the majority of social media users are women?  They were articulating the ‘business case’ argument for women directors, which will be discussed at the 2015 Global Summit of Women, May 14-16th in Sao Paulo, Brazil in different sessions.  In addition, a special session on Unconscious Bias will be led by industry experts.  What comprises such biases, and most important, how does one deal with them in the workplace?  (For more information on the Summit, log onto

Germany became the 12th country to pass a quota law that now requires 33% of board seats must be held by women in the Supervisory Boards of all their listed companies.  When combined with quotas required in some countries for government-owned companies , there are now 22 countries that have passed quota laws, most in Europe, but also in India, the UAE and Malaysia.   There are more in the pipeline in Austria, Switzerland, Brazil and in the European Union as a whole.  (2015 CWDI Report:  Women on the Boards of the Fortune Global 200, 2004-2014).

While quotas have been successful in adding a significant number of women to corporate boards in France, Italy, the Netherlands and other countries within a relatively short period of time, it remains a controversial initiative, lauded by some for the swift changes they provide in accessing board appointments, hated by others who see a ‘quota’ as a stigma.  At the 2015 Global Summit of Women, women directors will debate the pros and cons of government mandates.  Participating in this special session on “Creative Strategies for Women-on-Boards Initiatives” are Muriel Penicaud, Chair and CEO of Business France, who serves on the board of SNCF (transport company) and previously served on the board of Orange SA (a telecom company); Isabel Tocino, Board Director of Banco Santander in Spain, Ence (wood production company) and Enegas corporations, and former Minister of Environmental Affairs; Bola Adesola, the CEO of Standard Chartered Bank of Nigeria; and Ana Paula Pessoa, Founding Partner of Brunswick Group Brazil, who is also a board director of Newscorp in New York, Neemu Internet, and Black Key Investments.


Women in charge of major corporations remain few and far between.  In the U.S., only 26 women serve as CEOs, or 5% of Fortune 500 companies. (For a complete listing, go to  In the European continent, there are only two, and in the U.K. only five women leading FTSE 100 companies.  The pipeline to the top is also filled by few women – only 17% of senior executives in the U.S. are women, and many are not in income-generating P&L positions that are the normal routes to becoming a CEO.

When a woman is in charge, what is her role in building that pipeline to make it more robust?  Is it her responsibility just because she’s a woman?  Do women CEOs bring a change in leadership style, in mission emphasis, in the work culture, in general?  The global economy is still in the midst of an economic crisis and other outside forces can change a company’s direction.  How do women CEOs deal with those outside factors that can impact on their overall strategy?

A CEO Forum at the 2015 Global Summit of Women will bring together seven women who lead major companies in different industries and countries to discuss these very issues.  Each of them brings a remarkable story of her own ascension to leadership roles.  The Forum, led by Summit President Irene Natividad, includes:

  •  Carmina Abad, CEO of Metlife Mexico
  • Maria Blasé, President of HVAC & Transport, Latin America, Ingersoll Rand (USA)
  • Rosa Maria Garcia, CEO of Siemens Spain
  • Deanna Goodwin, President, North America, Technip (USA)
  • Gabriela Hernandez, General Counsel,  GE Latin America and former CEO, GE Mexico
  • Fatima Raimondi, General Manager, Acision (Brazil), and
  • Rachel Maia, CEO, Pandora (Brazil).


Over 40% of Brazilian entrepreneurs are women, and their businesses are growing at twice the rate of men’s enterprises.  Among these women entrepreneurs are young women who are creating nontraditional organizations, many with a technology base, to tap on market niches of their own creation.  At the 2015 Global Summit of Women, three young women business owners are showcased at the Youth Forum on Friday, May 15thbeginning at 4:15 pm at the Grand Hyatt.  They exemplify the creativity that young Brazilian women are bringing to the marketplace.


The three young business owners who will share their stories are Lorrana Scarpioni, Founder and CEO of Bliive, a collaborative network that trades time and skills instead of money; Alessandra Franca, Founder and CEO of Banco Perola, which provides credit for disadvantaged entrepreneurs; and Deborah Xavier, Founder and CEO of Jogo de Damas, a web-based network focused on providing smart content and events for women interested in business, entrepreneurship and career growth.

Don’t miss the 2015 Global Summit of Women in Sao Paulo Brazil!

France’s Minister for Women, Cities, Youth, and Sports Najat Vallaud-Belkacem hands over the Summit to Brazilian delegates at the Closing Ceremony of the 2014 Summit in Paris.

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