Back to New at McKinsey Blog

Making waves in Deauville

The executives and policy makers who descend each October on Deauville don't come to paddle in la Manche, any more than delegates go to Davos in January for the skiing. The seaside town in northern France is home to the annual meeting of the Women's Forum for the Economy and Society, which has grown in 10 years to become an important date on the European business calendar.  

We've been pleased to partner with the Women's Forum since 2006, each year sharing the latest findings from our Women Matter research program. This year more than 1,300 men and women came to Deauville for 3 days of debating, learning, and problem solving. Sandrine Devillard, a director based in Paris, and Anu Madgavkar, a McKinsey Global Institute senior fellow based in Mumbai, presented highlights from our recent report, The power of parity, which looks at the potential for increased gender equality to boost economic growth.

As with our partnerships with Facebook, the UN's HeForShe initiative, and LeanIn.Org, Deauville is part of a bigger commitment to create a fact-based dialogue that leads to concrete action.

This year, the McKinsey team also helped to convene and facilitate a private workshop for 45 senior leaders from private- and public-sector institutions, plus 15 diversity experts, as part of the forum's CEO Champions initiative. As befits a workshop, participants were made to work—split into groups and pushed to explore big ideas that could challenge the organizational status quo. How about appointing male and female co-CEOs? Or creating a gender-parity index to assess organizations on critical indicators? Look for a forthcoming white paper capturing the group's ideas and reactions.

Just as the World Economic Forum has expanded beyond its annual shindig in Davos, the Women's Forum is planning 2016 events in Dubai (in March ) and Mexico City (in April). Another outgrowth: the Cartier Women's Initiative Award—founded by Cartier, INSEAD, McKinsey, and the Women's Forum—to support female entrepreneurs.

Sandrine has been involved since the early days and seen the Women's Forum in Deauville grow from small beginnings. "It remains a special place with a special spirit," she says. "With the CEO Champions meeting, we've now got a fantastic opportunity to gather the best ideas from the private and public sectors and make change happen."