Their name is Jamais Sans Elles

The article was published in December 2016 in “Le Point”, a French weekly political and news magazine published in Paris with a circulation of 340 000.

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Gender equality. Entrepreneurs created a movement that wants to put the spotlight more on women, by Baudouin Eschapasse.

On October 27, 2015 when Natacha Quester-Séméon saw the names of the participants of the round tables for a conference on digital technology, to be held that day at the Elysée Palace, her blood boiled. She immediately posted an ironic tweet:
“Techwomen forgotten? Alright, and apart from that, everything ok guys?”
Oct 27, 2015

Social media lit up immediately. This was proof that the young woman was not the only one to be shocked by the lack of diversity. “That was the tweet that suddenly made me realize the incongruity of the situation. The event was composed 100% of men,” says Guy Mamou-Mani, co-president of the Groupe Open . He then made a commitment to refuse any and all participation in conferences that did not include any women. His profession of faith was transformed into a movement when thanks to a dinner held on January 20 at Gilles Babinet’s, founder of the Captain Dash consulting agency, some 20 friends adopted the same principle.

As a result of this promise made by a club of gentlemen the association #JamaisSansElles (“Never Without Her”, plural) was born. Co-chaired by a man (Guy Mamou-Mani) and a woman (Tatiana F-Salomon), it has one simple objective: to multiply concrete initiatives so that women are more present in spheres of decision-making. “Our movement is not simply a petition. It is a commitment. Fighting against the insidious sexism in society,” insists Guy Mamou-Mani. “It isn’t about imposing or opposing but about men and women collaboration and working together,” Tatiana F-Salomon stresses.

The commitment led Benoît Thieulin, founder of the Netscouade, to denounce the lack of diversity at a management meeting last winter. He also pushed Xavier Alberti, promoter of the association Transition, to modify repeatedly the composition of the round tables. When was the last time? “In Nantes where I was attending a Medef (The French Business Confederation) conference. The list of speakers did not include any women. I told the organizer that this was a problem for me, that I would come but that I would leave the stage after speaking. My message was heard, two female entrepreneurs were finally invited… and their contribution was enthralling,”he said.

For Tatiana F-Salomon the project is part of a continuum. Founder in 1984 of the association Les Humains Associés which promotes citizen involvement that, she insists, ‘revolves around humanist values’, she has been fighting for years so that talented women are recognized for their true worth. In 2006 she created the club Girl Power 3.0, which brings together the most influential women in the digital world …

In no time the first small team (with Jean-Michel Blanquer, dean of Essec Business School, and Etienne Parizot, astrophysicist) grew to include Jacques Attali, Nicole Bacharan, Audrey Bourolleau, general representative at Vin et Société, Laurence Parisot, VP at Ifop, Stéphane Richard, CEO at Orange groupe and Damien Viel, Managing Director at Twitter France. For Jacques-Antoine Granjon, founder of vente-privée.com, yet another signatory of the appeal, committing is a no-brainer. “How can you deprive 50% of humanity?!(…) A world of men made by men for men. Enough is enough! Women’s rights have taken a step back all over the world. And when their rights diminish obscurantism rears its head. Thanks to #JamaisSansElles we can never forget that without women, we are nothing. Let them continue to enlighten us with their intelligence, their sensitivity and their tolerance, “he said.

A movement that is booming

Politicians climbed on the bandwagon. In addition to Yves Jégo, MP and mayor of Montereau (Seine-et-Marne), Alain Houpert, senator of Côte d’or, Jean Rottner and Philippe Saurel, respectively mayors of Mulhouse and Montpellier, there was also Axelle Lemaire, Secretary of State for Digital Affairs…, four candidates (or former candidates) in the presidential elections who signed the appeal,: Alain Juppé, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, Alexandre Jardin and Emmanuel Macron.

Today the association has more than 120 members and is spreading! To the following regions: Bordeaux, Mulhouse, Nancy, Nantes, Lyon, Aix-en-Provence, Montpellier and Toulouse. And, also, abroad. “In Denmark, a dozen MPs joined us,” says Natacha Quester-Séméon. “Elected officials on all sides,” she said, anxious to avoid any political ‘co-opting’.

 

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