Celebrating a Better Life at OECD on International Women’s Day

More than 150 women – and a few men – joined the OECD on the evening of March 4th, in order to discuss well-being at work, and the potential differences between women and men on this topic. PWN Paris initiated this celebration of the International Women’s Day, partnering with HEC au Féminin, Femme & Société from Sciences-Po and the OECD Public Affairs and Communications Directorate.

Key learnings from the discussions were:
• The well-being of women has decreased overall since 1960 
• Women feel happier at work than men, as they fulfil intrinsic needs such as meaningful work and satisfaction of their values, while men tend to satisfy extrinsic needs, such as salary or power 
• A better life at work exists when women and men feel they are equal.

As the moderator of the event, Alexandre Jost (1) challenged the round table members with questions and comments on how women and men relate differently at work and which policies companies could implement in order to enhance “Better Life” principles at work.

According to OECD statistics and experts (2), if measurements of “Better Life” present the same hierarchy of indicators between women and men (health, satisfaction, education, work/life balance at the top), gender inequalities in the work place persist:

⇒ For 1 out of 3 women, achieving their task is the first work priority, while for 1 out of 3 men, revenue is the priority.
⇒ 40% of women seek to reconcile their work and family lives vs only 30% of men.
⇒ Women employees earn 16% less than men. As entrepreneures, they earn 35% less.
⇒ Part time jobs mean a higher percentage of precariousness for women with comparatively lower salary per hour than full-time workers.

A better gender balanced participation in the workplace, with equal status, are pre-requisites to increase performance and economic growth. Solutions should derive from the companies' strategy.

A call for new practices in pursuing a Better Life at work

A link DOES exist between economic and social performance, confirms Patrick Dumoulin, Director of Great Place to Work. “Better Life” at work decreases absenteeism and improves acceptance to change within the organization. However, the movement must come from the top management.
In its Best Practices, Great Place to Work lists some new practices that support Better Life at work, such as:
- allowing home office work to decrease stress and avoid useless travel,
- scheduling meetings to respect employees’ private time,
- enhancing conviviality in the work environment.

Isabelle Aprile, Alexandre Jost, Patrick DumoulinAt Sodexo, Isabelle Aprile, Director of Major Projects, Development and Growth, explains how well-being is emphasized at the core of their organization, driven down from top leaders’ decisions to respect and ease work/life balance. This strategy includes the “15 rules of the inclusive manager”, which take into account the voice of employees and fosters more respectful behaviour at work and career path for each individual. Sodexo supports gender equality through its internal network Unis-Vers.

When human beings suffer from stress and high pressure, the burn-out can be close and may put the organization in danger. At the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2011, burn-out was declared as “the highest challenge for the world health system,” creating huge costs for the economy. Consequently, investing in the prevention of stress should be a priority in every company. 

             Shahine Ismail, creator of L’Arbre de Vie, has developed solutions for stress management by leverageing a network of 200 shiatsu practitioners. Companies can offer to their employees in order to avoid burnout, and the programs in place show the human benefits on a daily basis.

There are indicators of a growing trend, a vital alert about high stress, which produces inefficiency and costs for the economy when pushing humans beyond their limits. 

The answer is to create positive energy at work and it is the responsibility of every woman and every man to share ideas for action and manage change, in order to create a “Better Life” for all.



Virginie Améaume, PWN Paris Events Group

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1) Alexandre Jost,creator of the Think-Tank La Fabrique Spinoza works in partnership with OECD for the Better Life Index
2) OECD Better Life Index – Anthony Gooch , Director of Public Affairs and Communication - OECD Parity experts Monika Queisser, Carlotta Balestra

Events:  OECD Forum : 5 – 6 May 2014 at Salon VitaeLia : 1rst exhibition for the Well-being at work – 27 & 28 May 2014 at Palais des Congrès Paris

OECD Anthony Gooch Indicateur du Vivre Mieux
OECD Monika Queisser Closing the Gender Gap
Sodexo's Management Inclusif



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