44C: Deborah Cherenfant, inspiring through the example

Deborah Cherenfant was in La Rochelle for the conference “The voice of women female leaders”. She is the creator of the brand Coloré Design. Meeting with this leader of a responsible company.
Fiorella Vargas: On the precedent conference, Charles Kloboukoff, founder of Léa Nature said that we always need to listen to women. In addition, Adèle Kamtchouang added that culturally, women have a little bonus because they need to handle day to day tasks and they have the maternal instinct. Do you agree with these generalizations?
Deborah Cherenfant: Of course it’s a generalization but most of the time it’s confirmed. Clearly there are some exceptions. Multiple studies have stated it and you can see in the relational level, generally female leaders tend to behave in a much more collaborative way. They include their teammates, take into account the human aspect of negotiations and contracts, think about preserving jobs rather than in seeking profitability at all cost. It’s in this sense that we see women develop a sort of sensibility.
F.V: Does this mean that women actually come to make a choice between having a family and having a career?
D.C: I don’t think it’s a choice as clear as you stated. Clearly it comes a moment when women come to ask themselves that question. Actually it’s more natural for women than for men to combine all of it. Nevertheless, the combination is made less judgmentally for men. Women have to carry a weight when they combine both (their career and their family) because of stereotypes. When a woman chooses her career it’s perceived as if she was doing it to the detriment of her family. I think you can combine both of them whether you make in different moments or in different levels.
F.V: You are the founder of the brand named Coloré Design. Does your brand take into account the social and environmental aspect?
D.C: When I started the brand, it was immediately a concern to recover fabrics. I use two materials: the traditional fabrics of West Africa and from the Greater Antilles because I come from Haiti. But we used also recovered fabrics that they offer to us or recovered cotton.
In terms of social responsibility, I hire exclusively refugee women because where I live in Quebec, just a few people can access to jobs that are actually to their level of qualification. This is why, for two years now, we have been hiring migrant women to make sure that we empower women and that we hire people who are competent and have difficulties finding a job.
F.V: Could you make a sort of comparison between the political world and the business world?
D.C: I think that it’s a correlation to make between the two. We see more and more women in positions of authority: as president, prime minister or head of a company. The downside is that when you look at the situation, it’s true that you see that women take the charge and take authority jobs in countries that are not well. Indeed, Angela Merkel is a good example but she isn’t perceived as a woman because she’s seen as strong and solid. She’s criticized because she doesn’t act like a woman. When a woman takes the power and she does it well, she’s criticized. As well, you can see that women are usually considered regarding someone else: her father, her brother, her husband. For example, when it comes to the Olympic Games, women who won were always judged regarding their physical appearance or by their trainer’s work. Their success was immediately attributed to their trainer or to their husband.
For me, the hardest reality women are confronted to is to face these kind of. You might think that in 2016 women aren’t faced to this but they are and a lot.
Fiorella Vargas – ESPOL Lille