International Women’s Day: Weighing in on Gender Equality and Female Empowerment – Chloé Cortinovis’ full-text interview.
The Great Room News and Views – Sunday, 8 March 2020
Photo credit: The Great Room – with Walaimas Jerdmethawut, Chloé Cortinovis, May Yin Lee, Maria Karacheva
Personality Feature – International Women’s Day at The Great Room
Chloé Cortinovis, Co-Founder & Managing Director at BIENVENUE FACTORY.
What inspired you to start Bienvenue Factory?
After 20 years in Europe working in brand development, I felt the need to take my expertise to Asia whilst taking in and learning from the local innovation scene. In Asia, omnichannel is way more utilised within the retail sector because of more advanced digital methods and younger populations. To start a new entrepreneurial venture in Singapore not only stimulates you but opens your eyes on the world as it is and the business sector as a whole.
People often wonder about the differences between how men and women lead. What are your thoughts on that?
Our ways of leading are different. History played a huge part in this reality, as well as different behavioural reflexes entrenched in human society for thousands of years. Women developed a leadership style based on the ideas of ‘group’ and ‘collective intelligence’ whilst men led their way through a more individualistic lens. Relationship to time is also different. Women leaders have a more holistic vision of a company or a project and prefer being in control of the whys and wherefores. This requires time and reflection. Men, on the other hand, act more spontaneously and have quick decision-making skills. Is one better than the other? I wouldn’t be so sure. An organisation requires both to succeed. Gender equality is fundamental to achieve it.
What are some patterns you’ve noticed over the years about women at work, and things they could be doing better to advance their careers?
In my time, (indeed, I am not so young anymore…) recruiters would dare to ask me during interviews whether or not I was planning on having a third child. I very much hope these times are over now and that women can take control over how they want to manage their personal and professional lives. I have observed the behavioural changes in business as the new generations made their way in. As a woman, we have to agree to let go and accept the unexpected. We have to be more ambitious with our choices and quit censoring ourselves. We have to accept to share responsibilities even if it is not always perfect!
The building of a career has to be planned together with our partner, hand in hand. Nowadays, men are eager to get more involved in the everyday life of their family, and that is a good thing!
How did you overcome any gender-related roadblocks in your career?
With a lot of compromises, abnegation and work! Ambition requires self-confidence and strength of character, which are more or less present within each of us at first. After 20 years of professional experience, I consider myself more knowledgeable now. I share regularly with young women on all of these subjects. And I never hesitate to speak my mind if I consider a situation as outrageous or unacceptable!
Any moments early in your career that surprised you in terms of how you were treated by men in the workplace?
Yes, both positively and negatively. Either with little recognition or with much admiration and gratitude. I would have liked a bit of normality…
Any patterns you’ve seen in the workplace that suggest differences between how men and women handle certain situations?
Without being caricatural, women tend to show more courage in management when dealing with sensitive situations. Their ability to adapt to change is a precious asset.
What does gender equality mean for you?
Equal access to education, the same freedom of choice when it comes to life decisions and ambitions, and a chosen and fully assumed work/life balance.
How would you like to celebrate International Women’s Day?
By replacing all world leaders by women and see how the world works then.
Is there a female role model in your industry or business who inspires you?
The Michelin-starred chef, Anne-Sophie Pic.
Which woman, historical or living, do you feel has moved the needle for female empowerment?
Simone Veil, French magistrate and political figure.
What is or your superwoman power?
I can juggle thousands of things at the same time. I am immune to stress.
What makes a good leader?
A good leader is someone with sharp emotional intelligence, who can bring people together through an inspiring vision and unswerving exemplarity!
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in your field?
Never forget that, before being a professional in the retail business, you are a client too.
On International Women’s Day, what is the one thing you’d like young, career-minded women to know?
Your intuition is your best ally. Learn how to listen to it.
Find the original article here.