Changing the Narrative on Women’s Empowerment and Diversity in Paris

I recently had the honor and privilege of representing both the United States and the United Kingdom in front of an audience of international dignitaries and global thought leaders, in Paris, France…

My first invitation was to speak at UNESCO about the importance of women’s influence and National Women Symbols. The second was delivering a keynote speech on changing the narrative around maternity leave and women re-entering the workforce after a career break at the Women Influence Community Forum at The Ritz, Place Vendôme.

As an ambassador of the West, I was brought to Paris to present new ideas, to influence society and cause cultural change. In light of this responsibility, I chose the content of my keynote very carefully. I spoke about the fundamental issues that include building women’s confidence, recognizing unconscious bias in the workplace, and the need for companies to make a real commitment to inclusion rather than simply flashing the diversity card. However, my key purpose for being in Paris, at UNESCO and at The Ritz, was to impact change.

So, I ended my keynote with a question. Rather than careers driving the economy, what if we made family well-being a focal point? What if we could change the narrative from maternity “leave” to career transitioning? Food for thought…

Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world and speaking on topics relating to women empowerment is a passion. However, what was truly special about this trip was that my daughter, Reia, just four years old, was also invited to attend. Having Reia by my side was the perfect way to represent the next generation. I truly believe her presence is a way to pave the way forward for future women leaders around the world.

When I delivered my keynote, Reia stood by my side on the podium. When I opined on Women as National Symbols, Reia sat by my side, and when I spoke on the panel discussing The Influence of Women and Mothers in Business and Entrepreneurship, she sat patiently on my lap. Such a special treat to have her there, manifesting the reality of the discussion at hand. When I received applause, she smiled her beautiful smile, acknowledged the audience, and of course assumed it was all for her!

This experience was the start of a great sisterhood with these highly influential and powerful women from all over the world. Thank you so much UNESCO and the entire Women Influence Community for inviting us both to be a part of history ❤️

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