Interview with Isabelle Kocher, Chief Executive Officer of ENGIE

1. The theme which has been chosen by ONU Women for International Women’s Day in  2019 is: “Think equal, building smart, innovate for change” (« Penser équitablement, bâtir intelligemment, innover pour le changement »). This theme matches the strategic pillars which sustain FBCC’s operations: Innovation, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability.  In this context, what is ENGIE’s position in terms of principles and actions?

For the last 10 years, ENGIE has been working to foster equal opportunities for women within our organization, help them reach and build their potential. We launched both a dedicated mission and an internal network Women In Networking. They produced a lot of propositions, of course for equality in the workplace but also on other topics and they are discussed at the highest level of our company. It is a unique tool for innovation and corporate transformation.

Gender diversity in the workplace is closely measured and it is one of the non-financial metrics we make available to the public and the markets. Today our executive committee is 30% female and I have personally asked to reach this milestone in every single one of our 24 business units’ management teams.

Being proactive in gender equality has fostered a new corporate culture where diversity is valued. What women bring to our company cannot be ignored anymore.

2. What are the principal challenges, critical points or bottlenecks in building these changes; and what opportunities are revealed for Franco-Brazilian collaboration in fostering gender equality, inclusive and innovative societies, associating the productive sector and government/institutional authorities?

There is no simple way to reach real equality in our societies. We need progress at home, in the media, in the private sector, in government. We need to accustom our eyes to see more women in charge and in non-traditionally female roles. Women’s right have different history in France and in Brazil and we would be wise to know more about the way our respective societies are dealing with it. I’m glad women within our organization, wherever they are from, can share their experiences and ideas in Women In Networking. I welcome government involvement for a more balanced workplace but at ENGIE it is already in our DNA.

3. Aspirations are projections for positive transformation, and work as drivers of motivation and engagement. What would be the 3 key words you would choose for translating these aspirations on this International Women’s Day?

First: Innovation. You never get too much of it. Our world has so many challenges to deal with, especially climate change and development, we can not bear the price of not listening properly to half the population. It perfectly fits #BalanceforBetter, the theme of this year’s IWD.

Second: Sharing. Women need to share more of their experiences. Most of us have a tendency to deflect on the obstacles we had to overcome, we see them as part of the job, business as usual, while they are not. We need to identify and confront them. We also need to share across cultures, as I’m glad the France-Brazil Chamber of Commerce is doing.

And third: Empowerment. Women have to accept to take more responsibilities within their organization. Self-censorship is surely an issue. Women need to see that their abilities are valued and respected. Whatever some may think, they are fully equipped to climb the corporate ladder.


Isabelle Kocher is graduated from Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ulm) and Mines Paristech engineering school. She holds as well a Master Degree in Quantum Optics as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in Physics.