Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bernard Arnault of LVMH

In this week's BusinessWeek, I came across an article about  how in France they're looking to pass a law that requires 40% of a major company's board of directors be made up of women. On the one hand, you can argue that membership to a board should be on the basis of merit and if a man is more qualified, so be it. But according to Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister, "You stand on your own merits and you should be recognized as such. But things are moving too slowly. There will be a lot expected of women simply because there will be resentment on the part of those who will have to make space."

They mention specifically the addition of Bernadette Chirac (the former president's wife) joining the board of LVMH, the massive luxury goods conglomerate overseen by Bernard Arnault which reminded me of a profile I read last year in the the WSJ Magazine.

Last year, the Wall Street Journal started publishing an upscale lifestyle magazine called WSJ. It kind of reminds me of a combination between the NYTimes Magazines and Forbes Life magazine. Needless to say, it's pretty awesome if you're into luxury, travel and general good living. They did a great feature on Arnault's empire.

Check out the BusinessWeek article HERE.
Read the WSJ Magzine article HERE.


  1. Interesting. I think some of the arguments for and against France's proposal of positive gender discrimination are similar to the debates on positive racial discrimination that are being had in places like South Africa.

    My view is that sometimes they are a necessary evil, provided they are inherently viewed as temporary measures. I don't think you could ever view a society a truly equal whilst positive discrimination legislation is in place but at times it's needed to break an elite's monopoly of wealth, opportunity and in particular, educational resource.

    My issues is that with gender, as opposed to racial, inequality the root cause of the problem don't seem to be so easily attributable to the same kind of elitism. Female's are generally getting largely the same opportunities in terms of education and wealth as men right? There might be some contribution by men in power being more likely to promote other men but I suspect this is not the most significant cause.

    More likely I think there are fundamental biological differences between Men and Women that translate, generally speaking into distinct character traits, increased male aggression and overt competitiveness for example. If I'm right and biology is a root cause then this is a long term problem that a short term political fix is not well designed to address.

  2. I hear you on the fact that even positive discrimination legislation is proof of inequality, but sometimes these things need to be nudged along before they can alter popular perceptions and become built into society.

    I don't know if I agree with the fact that fundamental biological difference precluded women from being added in the first place. I really think it had to do with the cronyism or club-like nature of these things. Men recruited other men they knew from school and other social circles.

    Could be interesting to see what those innate difference bring to the table...