The birth of a Spanish Women's Executives Club in Paris
Silvia Arto, ademas de ser nuestra presidenta, es vice presidenta de Global Alliance for Communications and Public Relations Management, una asociacion internacional de profesionales de comunicacion. Os propongo la lectura de un articulo que ha escrito para la newsletter de Global Alliance sobre el tema de la Diversidad y la Inclusion, en el que presenta nuestro club como ejemplo de iniciativa en favor de esos valores.
I am the chairwoman of the Spanish Women’s Executives Club in Paris. A club driving forward diversity, at the service of the Spanish women executives community in France. The diversity & inclusion month of the Global Alliance for communications & Public Relations Management leads me to reflect on the origin of this club, its mission and values.
The result of a long process and collective work.
Our club is not new. The idea was born more than 2 years ago, at the end of 2018 at a working breakfast at the Spanish embassy with some oficial institutions like the Spanish Brands Forum, the Spanish Chambers of Commerce in Madrid and Paris, and some Spanish top executives. The topic to address was the diaspora of Spanish professionals. There was a fabulous debate, in Spanish of course, on the contribution of Spaniards to the internationalisation of the Spanish economy. Many ideas and proposals were put forward on the value of Spaniards (masculine word in Spanish) working abroad for Spain.
And the Spanish women? I asked. We have the same talent, success, strength, determination and passion for our country. There were just 2 women among 30 men in the room to illustrate this.
I expressed the desire to do something about it. As there was no official initiative, I started to move it forward with my contacts, my friends and those who were going to become my future friends. We were six in the beginning, but soon, nine. We created a WhatsApp group with daily contacts -I sent every morning a reflective quote to start the day- and I organised dinners every month and a half. Talking about our business, companies, helping each other and having a good time together speaking Spanish it is much appreciated when working in a foreign country. It transported us directly to our homeland, our origins and customs.
And from there, the idea of the Club germinated. A club that had to have some values that for me where essential, both on a personal and professional level. Three values that were unanimously accepted by all my colleagues: trust, mutual support and commitment, to move forward and support each other.
A club with high level support
Speaking of support, this club could not have been what it is today without the support of our current ambassador, the highest Spanish authority in France, Jose Manuel Albares. When I first met him, he said: I support you! and he pushed us to officially become a non-profit association. The president of the Spanish Chamber in Paris, Jose Michel Garcia, also expressed his support to us. A great powerful woman, Angeles Garcia Poveda, one of the only two women who are presidents of a CAC 40 listed company board, Legrand, loved our idea and revealed: "I am with you! These important supporters later became our members of honour.
Encouraged by these mentors and our high enthusiasm, we started to create our official non-profit association. Our lawyers set to work drafting the statutes and bylaws, to register them. We created a board of directors, a website, a LinkedIn page, a twitter account. We discovered the great talents of our financial directors as digital experts, the talent of our innovation director as a LinkedIn speacialist, and most particularly, all the human qualities of the great professionals who are part of the management of the club..... What a pleasure to work together and meet every month or every week! even if it was just through video conference!
Strengthening the Spanish leadership
Collectively, we defined our mission, our objectives and our actions as a Club.
Our Mission was clear : to reinforce the Spanish women leadership by recognising and connecting the talent of Spanish women working in France.
We set three Objectives. The first one was to inspire. To highlight Spanish women who inspire for their achievements in a foreigner country, for their passion for their job, victories, defeats, who fall down and stand up with courage. Those leaders truly inspire me and can inspire some young women starting their professional career or even other women who have gone through the same struggles.
The second one was to reflect on the role of women in future issues like the ecological or digital transition, AI, 5G… promoting complementarity between women and men. We are not a group of isolated feminists. We believe in the differences and mutual support between men and women, because we have to help each other, especially when we are away from our home, our families and friends.
The last one was to connect with other networks of women and men in France, Spain and internationally. To grow. To be stronger together.
A club must provide concrete actions for the benefit of its members. This is key. This is why our club organises several face-to-face and digital events for our members, and a yearly women’s excellence award in partnership with the Spanish Chamber of Commerce. Due to the lockdown, our first physical event was held at the Spanish Ambassy in June 2021. It adressed the topic of “Women on boards”, a crossed vision between the French and the Spanish situations. We also organise thematic virtual aperitifs every third Thursday of each month to address topics such as positive impact, digitalisation and leadership, or share outstanding personal experiences of members.
A Club Whatsapp network is currently being created to connect members on a permanent basis and bring more proximity.
Why is our club different?
Our club brings together Spain and France. Building a solid bridge to drive foward diversity and reinforce both countries and economies, through strong open women leadership. Beyond borders, our stakes remain the same. It is our duty as women leaders to consolidate our progress for future generations and as a club, to join forces.
Our club is different from others because its attitude is different: our club is serious but without taking itself too seriously. It is highly professional but accessible and close to its members. It provides some help when things go well but also when things go not so well. It promotes collective work. And most important, it is a club where you want to be because it makes you feel good being part of it, not because you feel you « should » be part of it.
The leaders of the club and members share the same atittude. As a Chairwoman of the club, I will strive for promoting and maintaining this dynamic in the long run.
A dream and a team
My dream is to enlarge and strengthen the Spanish Women Executives Club in order to make it useful to more people and to have more positive impact.
I would like to warmly thank all the people who make it possible. First, our Board of Directors and founders. They are exceptional women, professionally and personally. I feel so privileged to work with all of them!
Thank you also to our honorary members: the Spanish ambassador, the president of the Spanish Chamber in Paris and the chairwoman of the board of Legrand. « Mille mercis » for being there, for supporting us and helping us to grow!
A big thank you as well to all our members for their trust. This is your club, your ideas, proposals and criticisms help us to improve.
Finally, thank you to all the men who support us. It is said that behind a great man there is always a great woman. I think that behind a great women's club there are always great men. Because together we are stronger.
As a Chairwoman of the Global Alliance’s European Regional Council, I encourage all communication professionals all over the world to strongly support and promote diversity and inclusion initiatives in our oganisations and local communities. Aside from being a legal and moral obligation in the workplace, they contribute to more succesful organisations, more committed employees and clients, and to a happier society.
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