Friday, March 09, 2007

Women's day


Yesterday, as you probably all know, was "La Journée de la Femme". For the occasion - and for my work - I went to a diversity round table organized by Clara Gaymard, the President of GE France. About 10 women, mostly belonging to ethnic minorities, told their stories and it was really interesting - and sometimes also moving. Diversity is a new concept in France, a concept that is difficult to impose here because it is contrary to our fundamental belief that France is an egalitarian society. Remember our motto: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. Mentioning the possibility of affirmative action (or better known here as positive discrimination) is just like acknowledging that we failed...

60 comments:

  1. Thanks again for an interesting post. I will make sure that Megan sees this one.

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  2. Acknowledging failure is the first step towards rectifying it.

    (I can only hope GWB looks at your blog.)

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  3. Nice portrait shot. I was recently reading about shooting from above, to minimize torsoes and legs, and emphasize faces, and this is a good example.

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  4. Eric! I knew you wouldn't forget about us!!! And of course I know the cow post was a coincidence, you are truly a gentleman.
    This photo is a nice tribute, although why are there two men in it?!
    Only one specimen of man should be in this pic: you!

    I understand what you said about the diversity issue, it's interesting because here diversity has always been so strong culturally and ethnically that it's difficult not to see the world around us through the eyes of diversity.

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  5. I didn't know anything about this day until I read Monica's post on the day before.

    Will someone tell me more about it?

    I agree with anonymous and admitting is the first step. Just because there is a "motto," it doesn't mean that reality has any similarity to it.

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  6. Very interesting post but very diffcult to comment on it without taking the chance of getting someone pissed off. Oh, well, so be it.

    Personally, I think the words "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité" plastered everywhere in France are a monumental joke, not unlike Bush's saying he is currently "spreading democracy" to the world.

    And then again, if you compare France with these countries where they stick you in jail for driving infractions or just because they feel like it, no due process or anything, then I guess France's civil rights are not half bad. Just don't say that to people who happen to be French for 3 generations but whose skin color looks "a little" dark. I'll leave it at that. :-)

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  7. c'est trés bien ca la journée de la femme, j'avais cru que le post de hier etait pour la journee de la femme hahahahaha...
    encore deux jours avant...

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  8. As monica spotted it, PDP fans beware: they are 2 bizarre XX genes owners on this picture. Look like they've dropped a leg of one of their Xs. They look nice and friendly but they might be spies...

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  9. Diversity has been a big "thrust" here in the states for quite a long time. Our university, University of Kentucky, has been obsessed with it for the last few years. We even have a highly paid Director of Diversity. I still haven't seen any big change....prejudices are still strong and living. At least attempts are being made.
    Tomate, you are so right! Bush is spreading something but it isn't democracy...it has the same odor as Clara Belle's perfume. LOL

    Bleedin' orange...email me; Jwp3937@Yahoo.com.

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  10. GWB isn't spreading democracy to the world so much as shoving it down people's throats all the while chipping away at the rights of Americans (or "traitors"; if you happen to disagree with his policies).

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  11. Quite simply, "Spreading democracy" = protecting BushCo's oil and arms interests around the globe. Not any kind of joke, but a blatent travesty to all innocent people who have suffered under this regime's malevolence.

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  12. You wonder how he can sleep at night and yet he says (not surprisingly) that he sleeps "surprisingly well." I suppose instead of counting sheep he counts the number of each days dead.

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  13. all the while chipping away at the rights of Americans (or "traitors"; if you happen to disagree with his policies).

    some food for thought..

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  14. Eric

    What is the difference between an egalitarian society and a diverse one?

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  15. Food for thought indeed! I for one am STUFFED.

    Thanks for the link. Now I have to go vomit. (Sorry everyone)

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  16. Merci Eric. J'aime regarder les idees des autres, mais moi, je l'aime le motto Francaise - nous avons le meme sentiment en Australie. Cependant, il y a toujours les "Chardonnay Socialists" qui parlent tout le temps mais font rien.
    Keep up the good work!

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  17. Diversity is so bizarre in France. I agree with the concept that all people are equal, and it's one of the things I love about France. But I also agree with Tomate Farcie's assessment.

    In Paris, you can live in a neighborhood that has christians, arabs, jews, gays, straights, blacks, and whites all side by side, but when it comes to the office, it's a whole other story.

    The top positions are still white men from the elite French schools grandes écoles and the mention of diversity brings on the same arguments as in many other countries.

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  18. P.S. Tomate, you're right. We're likely to piss somebody off here, so let's all try to be calm... ;-)

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  19. Michael, you are ever the peace maker (and funny to boot).

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  20. Recently, a large corporation hired several cannibals to increase the diversity of the coompany, "You are all part of our team now," said the Human Resources rep during the welcoming briefing. "You get all the usual benefits and you can go to the cafeteria for something to eat, but please don't eat any employees."

    The cannibals promised they would not.

    Four weeks later their boss remarked, "You're all working very hard and I'm satisfied with your work. We have noticed a marked increase in the whole company's performance. However, one of our secretaries has disappeared. Do any of you know what happened to her?"

    The cannibals all shook their heads, "No."

    After the boss had left, the leader of the cannibals said to the others, "Which one of you idiots ate the secretary?" A hand rose hesitantly. "You fool!" the leader continued. "For four weeks we've been eating managers and no one noticed anything. But now, you had to go and eat someone who actually does something."

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  21. You just proved my point!

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  22. well, very impressive shot!
    and about the theme, women's day,and that motto. yesterday I just saw lots of women did the window shoppings here. Maybe it should be called " day for tradesman"....

    anyway, like this shot very much.

    jing
    shanghai daily photo

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  23. you really work for GE ? wow, we should talk about that over coffee as i am customer of you at work :0)

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  24. Eric, I just re-read your post and see that this diversity round table was organized by Clara Gaymar, the President of GE France. Is the president of GE France really a woman? Very unusual here I'd say, but very impressive. I think the most famous woman CEO in France is Anne Lauvergeon at Areva, so it's nice to hear about another one.

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  25. Eric knows, but he won't tell, I hope.

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  26. No R., I won't! But why do you want to hide now?! Anyway, just a quick word, because I have a lot of work today.

    I'll come back to this topic because I find it very interesting.

    PS: no Luc, I don't work for GE, I'm a journalist so I was a guest there - and I also took the photo for the occasion!

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  27. Michael : Laurence Parisot, leader of the "grands patrons" happens to be also a woman, and quite interesting also. So you see, there's still hope !

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  28. Eric : "Mentioning the possibility of affirmative action (or better known here as positive discrimination) is just like acknowledging that we failed..."

    Chassez le naturel, il revient au galop…Tu voterais pas Sarko toi dis-donc ?

    Blague à part, about your comment, I invite you to read this article by Eric Fassin : "Pourquoi et comment notre vision du monde se radicalise" (amusingly, whereas the paper version was "se racialise", the web one has been wrongly taped in "se radicalise" : http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3226,36-878567,0.html?xtor=RSS-3208

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  29. Being a working journalist gives you a lot of opportunities and this is one of them. Good post and interesting commentary too.

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  30. Diversity is a topic of great interest and importance in ANY country. Changing the status quo is never easy and is always a slow process but it shouldn't be ignored or abandoned. I think I'm a realist, but I also believe that change is possible; I've lived long enough to know that there have been significant progess is many areas of the world on this very issue--never enough and never fast enough but we cannot give in to the negative basic instincts of humankind. Change is up to us, also; we all need to work at it. Off my soapbox. Note to anonymous: the only thing that pisses me off re. these posts is that you don't sign your name.

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  31. Very interesting post, Eric.
    Unfortunately all Europe has failed, maybe France less than other countries.

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  32. Excelent joke Michael. I´ve heard about other french woman in important positions such as Laurence Parisot, from Medef, Muriel Mayette, who´s ahead Comedie Française, and in gastronomy Anne-Sophie Pic, the only chef woman to get 3 stars (the top at its category) at the Michelin 2007 guide, which I´ve read it´s the most important guide of this type. So I guess this is a good year for women in France.

    And let´s not forget Ségolène Royal, bien sûr!

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  33. I don´t think France is the only country who´s failed. Come to think of it, which country didn´t? It´s the same thing in Europe, the US or even here in South America. It´s like Michael said, it´s ok to live in the same neighborhood, but when it comes to the office or school, the chances are not equal to everybody. And this happens in a country whose foundation is the miscegenation of people

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  34. Michael,

    Although women are a minority at the helm of corporations, you shouldn't be so surprised that a woman is the President of GE France. Afterall, GE is an American company and America offers the most opportunities for women.

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  35. Maybe Susan, but being an American company in France isn't exactly an advantage. It is more likely that the headquarters of an American company would force some ideas wherever they are located, but not necessarily well accepted.

    As for when you say, "America offers the most opportunities for women"...it could be true, but on what do you base this fact?

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  36. I wonder how many generations need to pass before real changes can be seen in terms of acceptance of diversity when immigrants bring "new" cultures, religions, and experiences to their new countries. It seems that it should be a step-wise process that starts with tolerance and leads to acceptance, but even tolerance is hard to acheive. But we are forgetting the theme of the conference that Eric stated was "La Journée de la Femme". If it is a challenge for a woman to become the leader of a company, what chance wold there be for a woman who is also minority? I guess the only thing that is constant is that change is hard.

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  37. à propos Mme Benaut : here we say "Gauche Caviar" but I just love your "Chardonnay socialists" !

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  38. As an "ahem" diversity specialist in a former life, this has been an interesting trail to follow.

    A couple of thoughts:

    Lots of things can be true at once. You can make progress and still be far behind where you should be.

    Most people don't wrestle with (or recognize, or understand) the patterns of behavior that reveal prejudice. Who's the best, who gets the job, who leads --- those decisions are usually very subjective, and bound in criteria that's more seat-of-the-pants than thoughtful.

    And Michael, be warned that a cannibal joke would never fly in the U.S. business world.

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  39. Michael, I loved your cannibal joke--sent it on to Pam.

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  40. ROFL. Love the joke! Just sent it to some of my co-workers this morning. They were giggling in their "cubes" earlier today ;)

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  41. Eric this photo shows the gentlemen you are (I cannot believe you should forget International Women's Day). Diversity, in my opinion, it's an excellent topic that deserve much more space to be discussed. First of all women deserve respect ALL over thw world and this, unfortunately, still doesn't happen...

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  42. ChrisLate said..."And Michael, be warned that a cannibal joke would never fly in the U.S. business world."

    Are you joking ChrisLate or serious? I DO hope you're joking...

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  43. Oh, it's flying, all right, believe me, it's flying in the virtual word and spreading faster than a virus as we speak! And Michael, many admins and support people say "thank you" for the Friday morning chuckle right now :)

    I came back because I forgot to mention that I like the way Eric shot that group of people from the top. It looks almost like a commercial shot for a bank or something. You'd almost expect to see "we aim higher" or something like that underneath the picture.

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  44. Yes, we failed Eric. I wonder why. But we failed. I know we had polish, italians, spanish, portuguese etc immigrants , it was hard for them but are very well intefrated and very proud for their origin. It seems it is harder today for immigrants. Why ? It is an important problem for us ( France) because France is ( was) made by waves of immigrants. ( sorry for my^poor English).

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  45. A women's day in a whole year?
    Would it mean the 364 remaining days are men's days?...

    Michael, your joke is unfair, managers are very active: they speak a lot and their sentences always start with "y'a qu'à.." = "there is just to.." (pronounce "yaka" in french) or "faut qu'on" = "we have to.."
    They know everything we have to do is easy and fast to do.

    I can remember a manager we called "le Grand Yaka" ("the Big Yaka")

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  46. I have noted that many, even most people who believe themselves to support equality actually want their own group to get more than attention than others. Martin Luther King said he had a dream where children wil be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. This should apply to gender--both ways--as well. Look back on some of the comments here and see if it applies. (God forbid there be men in the photo...)

    Are YOU for real? Most of us don't really examine ourselves very well.

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  47. Jeff, it´s great to have men in the photos. The more the merrier. Bring them on!!!
    Now see, if it´s a Women´s Day tribute, then a guy in the pic is a little bit like ´um estranho no ninho´

    That´s all.
    Figure it out if you feel like it!

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  48. Monica..."A stranger in the nest " ??

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  49. Well, without a stranger in the nest once in a while, the species gets a bit unidimensional.

    Now, it seems to me, any tribute to men most definitely would have women as a major theme. Maybe that's one of the XX-XY differences?

    (Yeah, Michael, I just couldn't resist, but I am being calm...)

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  50. "There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity."

    Michel de Montaigne

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  51. One picture, great debate. Why should there be a women's international day? They share this world with us and we with them. That would be ideal except that we (men), not all of us but clearly many of us, have treated them to say the least unfairly. How unfairly? Consider that there are women in the U.S Army, in Irak, who stop drinking water by three p.m, because they want to avoid having to wake-up at night to go to the restroom for fear of being raped. Some of these women have died from dehydration. Bush does not consider this to be a crime.

    Bush however, is not the central point here; the central points so far have been women's international day and diversity, both should be days of celebration, and not reminders that we have not achieved the desired equality or egalite that we strive to achieve.

    Someone asked about the difference between diversity and equality. The former refers to the coexistence of many cultures within artificial borders. Equality should refer to equal standing between human beings regardless of race, colour, and ethno-cultural background.

    We do need self-examination but we do not need to drown in it either.

    I hope you all enjoyed International Women's day for what it should mean and not what it means.

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  52. So much to say on this subject. Personally, being an American woman, a woman that has had many opportunities and freedoms, unlike my sisters elsewhere, feel that a DAY is a bit condescending. One day....out of 365??? Not quite realistic in my view.

    I suppose the reason that "Women's Day" has not been splashed all over newspapers here in the U.S. is because they realize that...realize that a DAY is not enough. We, here in America, are not celebrated in only one day. I suppose I am lucky. Lucky that I happen to live among great men. Yes, men. I love all you men. Please don'nt be insulted. But my American men are the BEST MEN in the WORLD!!! The general among them, respect women, have learned to be good fathers (yes, they change diapers, take there turn cooking dinner, acutally TALK to their children, and are among the most faithful men on the planet. I love you American men!!! But, I must give the respect to my sisters out there who have helped them to realize that being invloved fathers, being better husbands, being better lovers benefits them as well as everyone involved. So, a big "salute" to all you women who have enriched men's (and all of our lives)!!!

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  53. Please forgive my spelling errors (there instead of "their", etc.)....I've been celebrating tonight....

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  54. we can forgive your spelling errors susan but i think i am going to puke over the rest

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  55. Great shot Eric!

    You really should consider a career in advertising/photography/blogging and internet/computer stuff!!!!

    ;)xo

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  56. Great photo for Women's Day Eric! Clo i didn't know about the not going to the loo at night thing. Seems quite scary.

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