WIF - Women Initiative Foundation

Martine Liautaud

The Glass Ceiling Persists

Women throughout the world still lack opportunities to succeed. This is especially so for women in less developed countries who suffer daily injustices. But even in places where women fare relatively well, subtle – but inhibitive – forces hold us back: “traditional” gender roles; the specter of discrimination and an ever-present glass ceiling.

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund. From her foreword to Breaking Through by Martine Liautaud, WIF Founder.

Our Mission

The mission of the Women Initiative Foundation (WIF) is to promote the advancement of women in the workplace and in the economy

Our Vision

A world where women’s leadership in business, our economy, and society is fully unleashed. With this, we achieve a sustainable world for future generations.

Our Values/Principles

We believe women are, as Amartya Sen wrote, “active agents of change: the dynamic promoters of social transformations that can alter the lives of both women and men.” When women are leaders in business, we not only will unleash the largest untapped natural resource in our world today, but we believe our economy will more fully reflect the values needed to build a sustainable world.

In all we do through WIF, we are guided by our commitment to:
  • cross-cultural/international exchange
  • excellence
  • relationship
  • tangibility
  • value add, catalytic contribution

We take an entrepreneurial approach, and are more committed to high leverage impact than high growth. We believe great impact can be achieved by building and leveraging strategic alliances with strong partners, as has been demonstrated in our programming to date.

Importantly, WIF is an entirely philanthropically motivated and largely volunteer-led organization. We do not take a financial position in the companies we support. We are authentically driven to see women business leaders succeed.

Our Strategy & Program Highlights

To build a gender-balanced economy and world, WIF focuses on the advancement of women in business -- both as entrepreneurs and as corporate leaders. We leverage experience in France, where social and economic policies have helped promote women in business. We build strong relationships and strategic alliances with people and organizations, across countries – beginning with Transatlantic EU-US exchange -- and across industry sectors.

Serving as a Direct Resource & Catalytic Agent

WIF provides direct, catalytic services and resources to women entrepreneurs, women executives, employers, and other influencers through Mentorship/Sponsorship programs, Education and Training programs and Networking.

2017 Highlights include:

The Women’s Business Mentoring Initiative (WBMI) was founded in 2010, and is today the largest and most successful program of its kind in France. Like all WIF programs, we serve women in business a minimum of 3 years, with revenues of $1M+. With 100+ women mentored to date, WBMI has proven the value of a sponsorship approach to mentoring – meaning our volunteer mentors are ready and willing to go to bat for their mentees. The Stanford Women Entrepreneur program, now in its 3rd year, was created by WIF, building a partnership with Stanford Business School and BNP Paribas, the sponsor. This year, 40 women business owners travel from across the globe to attend a one-week immersive learning experience on the Stanford campus, with SBS faculty and the multi-cultural group of fellow women entrepreneurs.

The Transatlantic Mentorship Program supports French entrepreneurs who are ready to enter the US market, and US entrepreneurs who are ready to enter the EU market, via Paris. It uses proven methods, criteria, and procedures developed by WBMI. Mentors provide special support in addressing cross-cultural business challenges, along with all possible business issues. Mentees gain an invaluable instant network of influential, high-level support as they enter the new market. WIF is building a select number of partnerships with US-based sister organizations to grow the mentor and mentee candidate pipeline, cross promote, and exchange speaking, research, and other opportunities.

WIF’s Global Circle Network alumnae, mentors, strategic partners, corporate leaders, thought partners, and supporters. Global Circle members are invited to events in France and in the US in 2017, where continued education and networking are possible. We are building our database of constituents, and plan to launch a newsletter in 2017, and an on-line community.

Advancing the gender equality conversation, globally

Through Think-Do Tank activities, including Research, Thought Leadership, Convenings & Catalytic Initiatives, WIF advances the global discussion of gender equality on topics such as: the value of, and best practices for, promoting gender diversity in business and the economy; methods for breaking the glass ceiling, equal pay for equal work, promoting scalable women-owned businesses, access to capital, best practices in mentoring/sponsoring women in business, and other issues of concern to both men and women.

2017 Highlights include:

  • Current Research on 1) the role/experience of women in Corporations, in France, Germany, Italy; with partners IMS, BNP Paribas, ENGIE, and in informal cooperation with the Clayman Institute; and 2) the role/experience of Entrepreneurs, both men and women in France, Germany, Italy; with partners ESSEC, BNP Paribas and Citizen Entrepreneurs.
  • Thought Leadership. WIF welcomes opportunities to share our knowledge, experience, ideas, and championing spirit through, e.g.: TED Talks; keynotes and panel participation at events, conferences, private corporate meetings; publications, webinars, white papers, newsletters, and other communications. We leverage our experience, research, and extensive case studies collected in Breaking Through: Stories and Best Practices From Companies That Help Women Succeed by WIF Founder Martine Liautaud, published by Wiley & Sons in 2016.

Our geographic scope is now largely focused on France, EU and US. Our reach is global in our Stanford educational program for women entrepreneurs, through our web-content, and, in the future, through digital programs and the WIF Global Circle network.

Our partners include leading companies, academies, and media, e.g. ENGIE, BNP Paribas, Stanford University, ESSEC, CentraleSupelec and IMS in France, L’Express.

WIF is a charitable organization, operating in France, and in the US under the 501c3 fiscal auspices of the Bank of the West Foundation.

For more information, contact Sidonie Ruban at sidonie.ruban@women-initiative-foundation.com.

Video : Martine Liautaud presents the Women Initiative Foundation

Martine Liautaud, Founder and President presents the Women Initiative Foundation from WBMI on Vimeo.

Video : Martine Liautaud presents the Women Initiative Foundation (short version)

Martine Liautaud, Founder and President presents the Women Initiative Foundation (short version) from WBMI on Vimeo.