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Laurence Parisot
Laurence Parisot: "the Lara Croft of reforms"

Laurence Parisot portrait


While Chief Executive Officer at IFOP (a French marketing firm), Laurence Parisot took charge of the powerful MEDEF in 2005 (succeeding the ultra-conservative Ernest-Antoine Seillière) in the name of gender equality, thereby bringing about a gradual revolution within the organization.

The atmosphere changed radically with Parisot's arrival. Out went elitist methods, suits and cigars, and in came Parisot in a T-shirt, along with her Blackberry and knack for not mincing her words. Admired by MEDEF members and feared by elite politicians, she likes to attack French president Nicolas Sarkozy and is described as "dynamite".

Defending gender equality
"The only solution is for you men to please be a bit less chauvinistic." Laurence Parisot has for a long time been fighting against the hostility that women encounter in the workplace, and in society more generally. She has always defended the law that imposes male-female equality within the boards of directors of large companies in France, which was voted in last January. She has also been involved in Women's Forum, a female version of the Davos World Economic Forum. Yet, she doesn't play on the fact that she's a woman.

A woman of convictions
People close to her confirm that she's "neither feminist, nor anti-feminist" and that she doesn't act through personal interest, but because she has convictions: Mrs Parisot is single and has no children. When asked why, she doesn't reply or she simply dodges the question with a hand gesture. Yet, she passionately rallies in support of women being able to combine family with work because, according to her, the French economy wouldn't be able to recover from the loss of highly qualified women.


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