Post from Deauville: CEO Champions

James S. Turley, the chairman and chief executive of Ernst & Young, spoke at a press conference at the Deauville conference to discuss a new initiative called CEO Champions, launched by the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society with Ernst & Young’s support.

The members of the initiative shared six goals:

1.   As CEO, being visibly committed and “embed” women’s advancement into the business strategy;
2.   require diverse candidates as a priority when recruiting for leadership positions;
3.   hold themselves accountable for progress around the proportion of women in leadership positions and running parts of the business;
4.   building a CEO network;
5.   create a catalogue of best practices; and,
6.   developing ways to foster balance between personal and professional lives.

Chris Viehbacher, chief executive of Sanofi-Aventis, the healthcare company, says that looking back 27 years to his time as an MBA student, he recalls that there had been a 50-50 gender split in the class. Now, however, as he looks around he doesn’t see that parity any more at the top. He adds that people with ambition will always have to work very hard to get anywhere, and it will be impossible in most cases for them to manage a 9-to-5 working life. The challenge, he says, is for companies to create structures that allow both men and women to work as hard as they need to in a more flexible way.

As always, the devil will be in the details. Turley noted that the CEO Champions aim to present a “thoughtful game plan” to the forum next year.

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

The 'Women at the Top' blog is part of a series of online and print publications that focuses on women's achievements in business. With up-to-date news and incisive analysis, the blog will provoke discussion on the role of the world's most prominent businesswomen.

For more Women at the Top news, video interviews and other features, visit


About our bloggers

Liz Bolshaw

Liz Bolshaw is a business journalist and editor. She has been a successful book publisher, online editor, magazine editor and publisher.

She was launch editor of the Europe-wide online community Entrepreneur Country, has published magazines for PwC, 3i, dunhill and Bafta, and launched The Sharp Edge, a magazine for and about entrepreneurs, with Duncan Bannatyne. She is a regular contributor to Thomson Reuters’ Venture Capital Journal.

Her last project for the Financial Times was as editor of the paper’s Business Education magazine.

Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She writes regularly for the FT on business education, entrepreneurship, and management.

Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill is an associate editor and the management editor of the FT. He was City editor of the FT and editor of the daily Lombard column on British business and finance from September 2006 to December 2010.

He was the FT’s financial editor from June 2005 to September 2006, with overall responsibility for coverage of companies and markets. Before becoming financial editor, he was the FT’s comment & analysis editor, in charge of the paper’s opinion and features pages.

From 1999 to 2003, he was the FT’s New York bureau chief. He joined the FT in 1988 and has also worked as foreign news editor, UK companies reporter and correspondent in Brussels and Milan.

Pino Bethencourt

Pino Bethencourt is a professor and leadership expert at IE Business School in Madrid. She is also an author and executive coach.

Lynda Gratton

Lynda Gratton is professor of management practice at London Business School.

Linda Tarr-Whelan

Linda Tarr-Whelan, former ambassador to the UN commission on the status of women, is a Demos distinguished senior fellow.