'Something is not working': Christine Lagarde on women's representation

‘Something is not working’ when it comes to female representation, says Christine Lagarde


“In the finance world — I don’t know whether you would call it discrimination, but there is certainly disparity between men and women.”

These are the latest comments made by European Central Bank President (ECB) Christine Lagarde. 

On Bloomberg Television’s David Rubenstein Show, the first female ECB president said on Wednesday that efforts to narrow the gap between men and women at work are not going far enough, as women remain vastly outnumbered in senior positions across the largest institutions and companies.

“When I sit at my Governing Council table and I look around, I see 23 men and one woman in addition to me,” Lagarde told billionaire David Rubenstein on ‘The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations’.

“If you look at the venture capital world, it’s the same. If you look at CEOs of large, international banks, it’s the same. If you look at parliament, you have a much lower representation of women than there are women in society. So something is not working.”

“It should be a constant fight of all of us to make sure that everybody has a chance to accomplish their talent and to develop their activity in the way they want,” she added. “And this is certainly not the case yet.” 

The former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been vocal on issues concerning gender and diversity for years. 

In 2011, she became the first female head of the IMF before taking on her current appointment as president of the ECB in November 2019. 

She remains a minority among Europe’s top economic institutions, with only Russia, Serbia, North Macedonia and San Marino among European nations who have female central bank governors. 

Similarly disheartening figures exist here in Australia, where only one of the 23 CEO appointments at the country’s largest 300 listed organisations went to a woman during the 2021 reporting season. 

As Women’s Agenda founding editor Angela Priestley reported last week, more than a third of ASX 300 companies still do not have a single woman in an executive team line role, making it difficult for women to be appointed to the CEO position.

Chief Executive Women, Sam Mostyn said the latest results should act as a “wake up call to Australian business leaders, political leaders and investors, now is the time for action.”

Mostyn was most recently interviewed by Leigh Sales on the 7:30 report’s special ‘Why Women are Angry‘ where she described the state of the nation’s economic inequality, and provided some context as to why women are not being appointed to top leadership positions.

“To be a chief executive in this country, particularly, you’re expected to have been a CFO, a chief financial officer, or run a significant line business with profit and loss,” she said.

“Many women when they start their careers learn very early on they should be in jobs that give them flexibility. And so, you end up in HR, Human Resources, Corporate Affairs, or general counsel. And chief executives aren’t drawn from that pool of executives.” 

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