‘Putting female talent forward will break the glass ceiling’

Servane Mouazan is the founder of Ogunte, the organisation campaigning for a better world, powered by women. She tells Marie Claire her vision for the future of women in the workplace - and why compromise isn't an option

Servane Mouazan is the founder of Ogunte, the organisation campaigning for a better world, powered by women. She tells Marie Claire her vision for the future of women in the workplace – and why compromise isn’t an option.

How would you describe Ogunte?
‘Ogunte is an organisation that provides connections, training and executive coaching  to women social entrepreneurs through community projects, enterprises, charities and campaigns. We run a business incubator, an angels network, and annual awards to promote women’s achievements.

How did you come up with the concept?
I was working in community development in various countries and realised that although there were networks for women in business, there was not much around women who wanted to impact on society and the environment.

In our network, although women’s issues are very important, we focus more on the impact they have in society, and how can accelerate this impact.

What’s the aim of Ogunte?
Our aim is to put women social entrepreneurs at the forefront of the economy. We want to prove that doing good, caring for people and the planet, is not something you only do on the side, or after work. We support women who embed this in their day to day activities and in their professional life. It’s a mindset, a lifestyle, and it has a massive ripple effect!

How important do you think fostering female talent is today?
The big mistake we face at the moment is that we have accepted that being a white man is the default, and that gender is part of a diversity mix that comes on top.

The current structures are outdated (long working hours, low number of women in politics, engineering, investment, technology or sciences), and do not take in account the wealth of talent women can bring in the mix. By fostering female talent, we just address the imbalances that put a rein on progress and innovation.

Putting female talent forward, and nurturing it, is a way to remove the glass ceiling.

Did you have any mentors when you were starting out?
I had people around me I later realised were mentors! It’s great to have a portfolio of supporters who help you think differently and keep you on your toes.

 •  What’s your vision for the future for women at work?
My vision is for women to be clear about the values that underpin their life, and to have the opportunity to embed these values in their professional life, without compromise.

I want to see more women referred to as role-models, as Nobel prize winners and leading social entrepreneurs, because they are outstanding and impactful, not just because they are part of a diversity quota.

 •  What do you make of Marie Claire’s working women survey that found many of us put our careers first in our 20s, sacrificing sleep, our social lives and family time to get ahead in our careers?
The minute you are consciously sacrificing something, it will catch up with you at some point in your life. We need to remember that there’s no going back. Whatever your choice is, you can’t trade off the years and the opportunities you’ve missed. Balance is essential.

THE RISE OF THE NEW CAREERISTS

 •  What sectors do you feel women have a real opportunity to get ahead in right now?
Clean technology, sustainable development, impact investment, and IT. In fact, whatever sector where they feel they can align their passion and their ethos with their potential skills.

 •  What would be your top five tips for Marie Claire readers?

1) When your mood is low and times are hard, ask for help and support

2) Keep your sense of connectedness through professional, passion and learning networks.

3) Get stimulated 24/7 (explore new territories, get even better at what you do best)

4) Remember what you could do with 200% more courage

5) Keep your life as simple and balanced as you can!’

Servane is speaking about Ogunte at the Future Human salon, XX Vision on October 17 at The Book Club, Shoreditch. The event is an exploration into how feminine business practise is empowering smart companies and Servane will be joined on the panel by Cindy Gallop, the legendary NY-based founder of Make Love Not Porn; Rebecca Harding, founder of Delta Economics; and journalist and author Jean Hannah Edelstein. Find out more about Future Human at buy tickets, here

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