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The first Annual Conference of the Esade Alumni WE Club celebrates women’s talent and gender equity

As part of the conference, Esade Alumni conferred the Women Forward Awards to Belén Garijo, Merck CEO, for her professional career, and to the company Agbar, for its contribution to gender parity
Jornada Club WE

he Esade Alumni WE (Women Empowerment) Club was founded to offer an setting that promotes networking among professionals who are interested in fostering balanced, fair work environments, recognize the complementarity of talent, aspire to contribute to gender equity in companies and aim to push forward the debate on equal opportunities. For this reason, its first Annual Conference marked the first edition of the Women Forward Awards, which honored Belén Garijo, Merck CEO, with the Outstanding Career Award and the company Agbar with the Business Contribution to Gender Equality Award. In fact, even though companies are increasingly concerned with gender equality, there are companies that go beyond just implementing a quota system and launch strategies aimed at not only promoting equality between men and women or lowering salary gaps but also improving the lives of the members of the organization.

TheWomen Forward Awards

With these awards, the panel wanted to spotlight the work and career of Garijo, who has become a touchstone in women’s access to senior management after having held prominent positions in the pharmaceutical industry. As the director general of the multinational Merck, a leading science and technology company particularly focused on the fields of health, the life science and electronics, she is the first woman to lead a company listed on Germany’s DAX stock market index. “Her ability to break down barriers makes her an international role model in the pharmaceutical industry. Plus, her commitment to diversity and inclusion has driven her to promote corporate policies that have considerably increased in the diversity of profiles in managerial positions,” the Esade Alumni panel said.

Belen Garijo

Belén Garijo received this distinction remotely from María Cudeiro, CEO of Croma Pharma for Spain and Portugal and a member of the WE Club board.

The comprehensive water cycle management company Agbar was also recognized for “its commitment to including women in its governing bodies, managerial teams and throughout the company.” The panel highlighted “the  steadfast determination of the company, its president Ángel Simón and its managerial team to build a culture that fosters diversity and inclusion.” This has led Agbar to be acknowledged as one of the first companies to implement an equality plan, which has led to a female majority on its board of directors, as well as women’s access to prominent positions and their ongoing participation in the social debate on gender parity. These prominent women in the organization include Marta Colet (Lic&MBA 93), director of Transformation, Organization, Control and People at Agbar, who received the award on behalf of the organization.

Marta Colet

The panel for these awards was made up of a mix of academic and professional representatives, including Eugenia Bieto (Lic&MBA 73 / PhD 08), former general director of Esade and president of the Esade Alumni WE Club; Cristina Giménez, professor and director of Identity and Mission at Esade; Laura Ros (Lic&Máster 94/ AMP 16), director general of Volkswagen Spain; and Toni Ruiz, Technological Entrepreneurship Consultant. 

Making headway in diversity and gender equality policies

Jornada Club WE

Mireia Oranias (EDP PxC 09), a member of the WE Club board, and Jerome Trochet (MBA 09), WE Club vice-president, were the hosts of the event. Other participants included Patricia Valentí (MBA 02/Promociona 17), director of Esade Alumni, who expressed gratitude for the collaboration of CaixaBank and Croma Pharma as the sponsors, and Eugenia Bieto and Ricardo Bacchini (PDC 16), Maria Cudeiro (MBA 09 / Promociona 18) and Anna Quirós Alba (Promociona 17) in the awards ceremony.  The entire event highlight the alumni community’s commitment to working towards gender equity.

Laura Ros, director general of Volkswagen Spain and one of the guest speakers, highlighted that “businesses play a key role and have certain responsibilities as drivers of social transformation.” She also stated that her career has been marked by “effort, dedication and passion.”

Laura Ros

During her talk, Ros stressed that “corporate human resource policies are decisive for advancing diversity and gender equality policies,” and therefore “they must not be the sole responsibility of the human resources department. The CEO has to be personally involved.” She went on to say: “The company has to invest the same energy, passion and conviction that it applies to other business goals to achieve diversity. It must be part of the corporate culture and have the unwavering commitment of the company’s management committee.” Plus, she also mentioned the need to have role models, as well as “the unresolved issue of attracting more women to STEM careers.” She also stressed that “equality at work is only possible if there is equality in the division of labor in our personal lives.”

The event,  whose other goal was to allow professionals to mingle and collaborate, ended with a social cocktail on the CaixaForum terrace.

Jornada Club WE