LeadHers, the women’s project in which even a French minister can mentor you
This article was featured in El Español, click here to view the version in Spanish.
Clémence Mauchamp and Jessica Robell, their founders, explain what the global platform is all about.
“Unity is strength”. A maxim that makes particular sense in the quest for equality and freedom. It is also one of the main objectives of the LeadHers platform, a community of women united in their desire to support each other, intergenerationally.
We talked to its two founders, Clémence Mauchamp and Jessica Robell, who are committed to a better future, with effort, learning and generosity as their motto.
How did the LeadHers project start, what are its core objectives, and what are its values?
Despite the measures taken in recent years, by 2023, only 5% of companies globally have women CEOs, and the proportion of venture capital funds invested in start-ups founded by women is only 2%. These figures do not reflect the potential and willingness of women as entrepreneurs and business leaders.
LeadHers’ mission is to contribute to changing these figures. To achieve this ambitious goal, we work closely with influential men and women committed to promoting gender equality. Together, we believe we can create meaningful and lasting change.
Specifically, LeadHers is an organised platform that connects women from different generations to create opportunities in relationship building and mentoring. LeadHers was born out of the belief that behind every successful woman is a wealth of advice, sponsorship and support. We believe in the power of role models and the willingness of women to support each other.
Younger generations bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas, while older generations bring experience, wisdom and networks. By including promising alumnae in its network of influential women, LeadHers creates a more dynamic and effective community, better equipped to meet the challenges of the future and gain more influence in the world.
How many people are behind this project?
I founded [Clémence Mauchamp] LeadHers in 2018. Since 2022, it has been managed by Jessica Robell and myself.
Why did you develop the mentoring program? How are mentors chosen?
In recent years, several reports from renowned organizations such as McKinsey, Deloitte or KPMG have published reports on the topic of gender inequality in the business world. Two major obstacles to women’s career advancement have been identified: lack of female role models and lack of self-confidence.
To address these specific problems, mentoring is widely recognized as the most effective solution. Thanks to LeadHers, students have benefited from the mentoring of Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO and former French Minister of Culture, Cynthia Tobiano, CEO of Edmond de Rothschild Bank, and a large number of other successful women.
The concrete impact of our action on these young women is substantial. To build our mentoring community, we organize dinners where we bring together a small group of professional women from different sectors around an inspirational speaker. After the dinner, participants raise their hands to become mentors to promising women students selected by Sciences Po, some of whom were present at the dinner.
What distinguishes the new generation – are they more aware than previous generations?
The new generation is distinguished by its high level of technological literacy and interconnectedness. They have grown up in a world where access to information and communication is more accessible than ever.
It created a generation that is more informed and aware of social, environmental and political issues. This has had a positive impact on gender equality issues, as they are more likely to question and challenge gender stereotypes and prejudices, and are more supportive of equality initiatives.
They are also more likely to value diversity and inclusion in all aspects of life, including the workplace. This has led to increased pressure on companies and organizations to address gender inequality and create more inclusive and diverse environments. Overall, the new generation’s attitudes toward gender are helping to drive progress and positive change.
They can count on the support of influential leaders such as Mathilde Thomas. What do they have in common?
We have been fortunate to have extraordinary speakers at our events, all with very different stories and backgrounds. Among them were Claudie Haigneré, the first French woman to travel into space, Dorothée Gilbert, Étoile de l’Opéra de Paris, and Mathilde Thomas, the founder of Caudalie skin care. Despite their different backgrounds, they all shared one important trait: their extreme generosity and willingness to support the next generation.
These high-profile women have limited time, but they share their time and stories with us because they believe in our mission, without ever having met us before or receiving any compensation. Having achieved success in their respective fields, they understand the value of mentoring and knowledge transfer, and are passionate about sharing their experiences and expertise to help other women realize their potential.
How to be part of the LeadHers project?
LeadHers is a project open to women of all ages and nationalities. Our network in Paris includes 18 different nationalities, which shows our international spirit.
We believe that bringing together women of different generations and backgrounds brings strength and diversity to our community, which is why our members come from a wide range of sectors including finance, law firms, consulting, winemaking, acting, writing and more. The most important criterion for joining LeadHers is to share our values of generosity and willingness to support each other.
What are your future projects?
Our main ambition for the future is to scale our impact and reach more women around the world. We plan to achieve this by expanding internationally, starting with Madrid, Munich and Stockholm in early 2024.
We believe that by expanding our network and community, we can create even more opportunities for women to connect, learn and support each other. We are excited about this new chapter and look forward to making a positive impact on women’s lives across borders.
According to LeadHers, what are the main challenges that await women in the coming years?
While more women are rising to senior positions, we are also seeing alarming trends with women leaders leaving their jobs at a higher rate than men. Women are demanding more from their employers, and while progress is being made, it is not happening fast enough.
Globally, women spend between two and 10 times more time than men on unpaid care work. In recent years, burnout has reached very high levels, especially among women. As more women reach leadership positions… we believe this is the main challenge that lies ahead in the coming years. To address this problem, companies must take steps to adapt to women’s needs and prioritize employee well-being.
Creating environments that support the advancement and success of women is essential. With LeadHers, our goal is to provide a comprehensive support system that addresses the unique needs of women both in the workplace and in their personal lives. When women have access to mentors, allies and a supportive community where they can connect with their peers, they are much more likely to thrive and succeed.
What message would you like to convey to women?
One woman’s success can encourage the entire community. When one woman breaks barriers and achieves success, she inspires others to believe in themselves and strive for their own goals. But the impact of successful women goes beyond inspiration.
If women professionals help the next generation reach successful positions and influential roles, then the world for them as a whole will improve. By mentoring and advocating for the next generation through LeadHers, successful women can create a ripple effect of advancement and empowerment.