Lisbon, Tuesday 15 October 2019: Today the 10 recipients of the 2019 Leading Women Awards were announced in Lisbon at the annual Council Meeting of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

The Awards showcase the outstanding business leadership of women in WBCSD member companies who are working to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

WBCSD initiated the awards in 2017 as a contribution to the goals of SDG 5, which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.

The 2019 edition of the awards was sponsored by WBCSD member companies DSM, Nestlé, P&G and Sonae. This year, the awards also featured a new category, Breakthrough, designed to recognize company initiatives that advance gender balance in the workplace.

The recipients were announced as follows:  

EXCELLENCE: Recognizing women leaders for their sustained and outstanding contribution to advancing sustainability in their company.

  • Alka Talwar, Chief CSR and Sustainability, Tata
  • Claude Nahon, Directrice Environnement Développement Durable, EDF
  • Helen Mets, President Resins & Functional Materials, DSM
  • Isabel Barros, Executive Board Member, Sonae
  • Norma Angelica Castro Reyes, Director Ejecutivo de Inclusion Financeria, Santander

NEXTGEN: Recognizing the next generation of women leaders who are advancing sustainability in their company.

  • Cécile Eterstein, Associate Director – Customer Brand Leader, Procter & Gamble  
  • Ghazal Nemati, Supplier & Agriculture Development Manager, Nestlé
  • Narawadee Modenuch, Research and Sustainability Analyst, Olam (Thailand)

BREAKTHROUGH: Recognizing unique and impactful company initiatives that advance gender balance in the workplace.

  • Nestlé, for Empowering Women Along The Value Chain
  • Procter & Gamble, for Driving Men Engagement   

Peter Bakker, President and CEO of WBCSD said: “We are honored to celebrate the Leading Women in this year’s awards, as well as two company initiatives in the new Breakthrough category. It is with great pleasure that we recognize the important contribution from these women, as well as the company initiatives, and the difference they have made to their businesses in the WBCSD membership.

“As business enters the decade of delivery for both the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, it is essential that more women enter leadership positions and help to guide this transformation. It is only with the full participation of both men and women across the spectrum that we can achieve the system change that is necessary to transform our world.”

WBCSD has been working hard on initiatives to advance SDG5 across its operations. In 2018 WBCSD announced an increase in the number of female representatives on its Executive Committee, lifting the number from one to five. This follows the adoption of a “Panel Pledge” in early 2017 to help ensure women are adequately represented in panel discussions at conferences, following in the footsteps of other leading organizations who have already enacted the Pledge.

According to the Better Business, Better World report launched by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission in January 2017, achieving gender parity and other human capital gains would unlock between USD$12 and USD$28 trillion by 2030.

Quotes from the 2019 Leading Women Award recipients

Alka Talwar, Chief CSR and Sustainability, Tata

“I am extremely delighted and honored to receive this recognition from WBCSD.   This will further inspire me to do more, push harder, and influence many more people and businesses towards sustainable living. I think, for me, sustainable development is about making a difference, even if it is through small baby steps.  It is about doing things and acting in a way that will encourage both the current and the next generation to rethink about development, equity and growth and bring positive long-term change. This is a journey that we have embarked on and we still have many more miles to go.”

Claude Nahon, Directrice Environnement Développement Durable, EDF

“I dedicated the last 20 years of my career to sustainability for EDF Group. WBCSD has been part of the journey from the start bringing together peers, scientists, NGOs and policymakers around challenging issues and cutting-edge solutions. I leveraged it to its end, to give direction to EDF’s sustainability path. I’m proud of EDF’s achievements: significant CO2 emissions reductions, exemplary biodiversity stewardship, meaningful stakeholder dialogues, inclusive and just transition and a real commitment to public service and global common goods. Now, Carine de Boissezon, EDF’s new CSO, will build on this to go further as the urgency is still there and there are still so many things to be done. Many thanks to WBCSD for this award, a symbolic recognition of the share I played in our common journey.”

Cécile Eterstein, Associate Director – Customer Brand Leader, Global Carrefour, Procter & Gamble

“This recognition means a lot – to me, but, also importantly to my colleagues at P&G and partners like the Carrefour team who have been strong allies along our sustainability journey. We are all determined to enable and inspire positive impact on the environment and society. I am proud to be part of Procter & Gamble Ambition 2030 journey, and I see immense potential behind transformative partnerships with retailers, suppliers and other partners. Together we can create more responsible consumption.”

Ghazal Nemati, Supplier & Agriculture Development Manager, Nestle

“It is indeed a great honor and privilege to be chosen for this prestigious award. It is an absolutely fantastic achievement and reward for all the efforts and contribution my company is doing to enhance the quality of life to contribute to a healthier future. All of us as women feel proud to contribute even more to advance the sustainability goals in our countries. In fact, it is not only for me, firstly it is for my company which has provided us the best platform to contribute to our CSVs (Creating Shared Values) and to support SDGs. Secondly my direct team, colleagues, peers and senior leadership team who have put their efforts day in and day out and supported us unconditionally to contribute to our company purpose. Thirdly, all the women and men in our Dairy and Agriculture farms in Iran, who have contributed to this honor and I am just representing their work, courage and passion. I would like to give thanks and give credit to my company, my team, our leaders, our women and everyone involved to advance the sustainability goals to contribute to a better and brighter future for our generations to come.”

Helen Mets, President Resins & Functional Materials, DSM

“As a leader, I have a huge responsibility to inspire people to positively impact the world by delivering sustainable, innovative solutions. Diverse and inclusive teams are the best way to enable this. I appreciate the ‘voice’ that this award brings to my work and I hope that it inspires other females to keep fighting to make a difference. We still need to, so let’s be loud!”

Isabel Barros, Executive Board Member, Sonae

“Being recognized with this award makes me very proud, as it recognizes Sonae’s endeavors in developing a more sustainable and inclusive company and society. Sonae’s people are at the heart of our long-term strategy and promoting equal opportunities for all is in our leaders’ agenda. Going further, helping our employees remain professionally relevant to support their career prospects are necessary conditions for development to be truly sustainable and inclusive. There are many challenges ahead, but it is my firm belief that, among others, education will play a fundamental role in bridging them. This is the inspiration that drives my passion.”

Narawadee Modenuch, Research and Sustainability Analyst, Olam (Thailand)

“Thanks to WBCSD for honoring me as a next-generation woman leader, and as one of the many women who have contributed so much to our sustainability efforts. I feel humbled and honored to receive such a prestigious award as my first professional recognition. I feel lucky and grateful to be part of Olam International, a company that puts sustainability at the heart of their business, and which gave me the opportunity to get involved and move their projects forward. I'm really proud to have brought smiles to the faces of Thai rice farmers, while supporting Olam's purpose: to "Re-imagine Global Agriculture and Food Systems." Sustainability is a long-term driver for change, and we need as many people as possible to contribute. I hope my journey can inspire a new generation to take on their own challenges and move forward on sustainability efforts.”

Norma Angelica Castro Reyes, Director Ejecutivo de Inclusion Financeria, Santander

“It is a great honor to receive this recognition, which represents the efforts of many women, clients of the Santander Financial Inclusion Initiative, who work every day for their and their families’ progress and well-being. I feel very proud to lead this initiative and to be part of Santander, because it is an Institution that believes in responsible banking and puts it into practice, promoting this type of initiatives that contribute to sustainability and give back to society. I hope this award inspires more women to be a differentiating factor in their companies and to generate changes from any trench; and to companies to continue promoting projects that have a positive impact on people's lives.”

Magdi Batato, Executive Vice President, Head of Operations, Nestlé SA

“It is a pleasure to see that our efforts to empower women across the value chain are recognized by WBCSD. At Nestlé, we made diversity and inclusion one of our top priorities, and this award gives us a positive momentum to do even more. We hope that our initiatives on the ground will inspire others to improve the livelihoods of women around the world. We will continue to work hard to support both men and women to further advance diversity and inclusion at Nestlé.”

Giorgio Siracusa, Vice President Human Resources, P&G Europe

“It is undeniable that Diversity and Inclusion are essential to business sustainability. It is a never-ending effort, but milestones should be celebrated.  This is why, on behalf of Procter & Gamble, I am honored to receive this award recognizing our #WeSeeEqual initiative and the progress we are making towards achieving gender equality. Removing gender bias from policies and systems as well as encouraging dialogues are very concrete actions we have taken for positive impact. We will also continue working with others to increase our momentum on a greater scale, harnessing our combined influence to create cultural change.”

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