WBCSD announces Leading Women Awards recipients and Panel Pledge to ensure more gender balance and diversity in events

Published: 7 Mar 2017
Type: News

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development today announced the first 10 recipients of the inaugural Awards for outstanding female leaders within the WBCSD membership: the Leading Women Awards.

To advance gender equality, WBCSD has adopted a “Panel Pledge” to help ensure women are adequately represented in panel discussions at conferences.

Geneva, 8 March 2017: Marking International Women’s Day, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) today announced the first 10 recipients of the first WBCSD Leading Women Awards.

The Awards provide a way of showcasing the outstanding business leadership of women in WBCSD member companies who are working to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). WBCSD launched the Leading Women Awards as a contribution to the goals of SDG 5, which aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.

The 10 recipients are:

The Leading Women were selected by a nomination committee made up of representatives from WBCSD member companies and international organizations (Nestlé; AkzoNobel; EDF; Grupo Santander; ITC; JPMorgan; Kellogg’s; Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions; Unilever; Vale and Mission2020).

The leading role of women is crucial to the success and sustainability of business. It is an honor to recognize the contribution the 10 Leading Women are bringing to the sustainable development agenda across our membership

Peter Bakker,President and CEO, WBCSD

He added “The Awards are a way of recognizing all women working across WBCSD companies. We were honored to receive 54 nominations of women from WBCSD member companies, and are pushing for a more gender-balanced approach. We have our own work cut out for us at WBCSD: women compose 66% of our workforce but only 16% of our Senior Management Team and about 6% of our Executive Committee. We are taking steps to address this and we have more work to do.” 

WBCSD recognizes the importance of “walking the talk” on gender equality and diversity.  To advance these issues, WBCSD has adopted a “Panel Pledge” 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.

The state of gender parity in the modern workplace calls for urgent action. For example, only 3% of Fortune 500 companies have a female CEO. The share of women in FTSE 100 boards of directors remains stagnant at 12%. A quarter of all FTSE 100 boards are still comprised of 100% men. No matter where you are, there are substantial hurdles that women around the world have to face when it comes to career advancement.

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

The recipients of the Leading Women Awards will be recognized in a ceremony taking place at the annual WBCSD Liaison Delegate meeting in Montreux, Switzerland on 28 March 2017.

The Leading Women Awards will become an annual feature in the WBCSD calendar.


Åsa Bergman, President, Sweco Sweden: “The Leading Women Awards demonstrate that women in business can lead the way towards a more sustainable future. A gender balanced workplace leads to a more dynamic and creative workplace, a competitive advantage in itself. But, it also allows us to attract more talent and for those who are already working with us to thrive. And people who are happy at work do a better job. It is a strong success factor.”

Dr Joy Deshmukh Ranadive, Global Head, Corporate Social Responsibility, Tata Consultancy Services: "Gender equality is no longer an option that can be considered as and when. Equal opportunities, freedom from violence and social perceptions based on inclusivity are critical for the empowerment of women. My vision is for a future where women and men work together towards creating a humane and sustainable world for all to live in."

Martha Herrera, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, CEMEX "I am honored to be awarded this recognition, which I share with a great team that has walked with me along this journey. A better world is possible and we can do much to close the inequality gap. It is worth continuing to fight with tenacity, humility, values, cooperation, passion, great dreams, and concrete actions that lead us to build, transform, and move."

Debora R. Tjandrakusuma, Legal & Corporate Affairs Director, Nestlé Indonesia: “It is a great honor for me to receive the WBCSD Leading Women Award. This Award is also a recognition of the great work achieved by my team and our NGO partners who are key to contribute to the livelihood of the communities whilst addressing the environmental challenges we face in Indonesia. Gender equality must be achieved to bring progress to society, something I strongly believe in and work tirelessly to achieve.”

Gilbert Ghostine, CEO, Firmenich: “I deeply believe that business is a force for good and has a key leadership role to play in addressing the SDGs. Establishing long-term partnerships is critical to our success as we cannot solve such great global challenges alone. Congratulations to Bérangère Magarinos-Ruchat and all the other nominees for their achievements and actions to make sustainable lifestyles a reality for present and future generations.”

Estelle Brachlianoff, Senior Executive Vice-President, Veolia UK & Ireland: “I’m delighted to receive this WBCSD award as it reinforces our ‘Resourcing the World’ vision to develop access to preserve and replenish resources on a global scale. Working in partnership with our customers, Veolia is leading a paradigm shift to create a responsible circular economy and address the three long-term megatrends: rising population, resource scarcity and volatility and climate change impact. As Business in the Community’s Responsible Business of the Year, we’re focused on becoming a social sustainability leader in the communities in which we work, while utilizing sustainable development to meet the needs of the present without compromising the future of the generations to come.” 

Namita Vikas, Group President & Global Head, Climate Strategy & Responsible Banking, YES Bank Ltd: “I am grateful to WBCSD for recognizing the important role played by women in achieving SDGs. Unlocking the full potential of women at the workplace and advancing women’s participation in leadership are critical towards accomplishing these global goals. Accelerated actions towards gender parity will reshape societies and businesses for a future that is both inclusive and sustainable.”

Carine de Boissezon, Chief Financial Officer, International Division, EDF “This prize recognizes the undertaking of EDF group and its teams in favor of sustainable development. I am pleased that it also sheds light on the contributions of women in our Group who are instrumental in driving change towards a greater integration of SDGs into business. Green bonds for example are a core financing instrument to support our ambitious development in renewables. I’m convinced that responsible finance is key in delivering the sustainable world we all aim for.“

Linda Murasawa, Head of Sustainability, Santander Brasil: “Doing business that drives sustainable development is the way to prosper in the business world, only in a low-carbon economy and a fair society will corporations find the resources needed to continue to create value and survive.”

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