“When there is a difficult situation, women are called in to do the work, to sort out the mess”
Women’s talents are often hidden and it is only when other women talk about it that we gain insights into how powerful we really are. Recently CNN’s Leading Women gained access to IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
In this exclusive interview, Christine Lagarde talked to CNN anchor Gabriela Frias about why women can lead an organisation through a crisis and how she uses her role on the world stage to change the global workforce, why she does not want to be President of France and how she is coping with an ongoing political fraud case.
CNN had the unique access to Christine Lagarde at Washington DC and in Peru and Chile during a recent trip to South America. The interview was on broadcast on CNN International in four segments and includes the following excerpts:
ON WHETHER WOMEN ARE MORE CAPABLE OF LEADING THROUGH A CRISIS:
“I simply observe that quite often, when there is a very difficult situation, women are called in to do the work, to sort out the mess, and to re-establish confidence and teamwork…it’s a common trait of women to be concerned about the collective success more than about their individual visibility, respectability and success.”
ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BEING THE FIRST FEMALE LEADER OF THE IMF:
“That’s the reason why I think I want to do a good job, because I don’t want to let my female colleagues around the globe down. I don’t want them to turn around to me and say, you know, “why did you make a mess out of it?”… So I feel an added burden and an added responsibility as a result of that.”
ON WHETHER SHE FEELS IN A POSITION TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE IN THE GLOBAL WORKFORCE:
“I’m the managing director of the International Monetary Fund… and not only do people in my organization listen to what I say but our voice is listened to by policy makers…So when we produce empirical research and analysis that point to the strong contribution of women to the economy… of course people listen.”
ON WHETHER SHE WOULD RUN FOR PRESIDENT OF FRANCE AFTER HER TERM AT THE IMF FINISHES IN 2016:
“No way… Because I’m sane and I want to remain sane.”
ON HOW SHE COPES WITH THE WEIGHT OF ALLEGATIONS RELATING TO A POLITICAL FRAUD CASE DATING BACK TO HER ROLE AS A FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER:
“With strength, with my sense of duty to my country, with the certainty that I made the right choice at the time independently and the rest is dealt with now by the lawyers… so I don’t focus on the issue anymore.”
ON WHY SHE MEETS WITH GROUPS OF WOMEN IN EVERY COUNTRY THAT SHE VISITS:
“Because I hear a different story… when we talk amongst ourselves amongst women… it’s just more natural, more genuine… I remember countries where, for instance, women have explained to me the struggle of young girls who cannot go to school… I’ve had stories about violence against women. These stories would never come out in the presence of men, and woman feel comfortable telling me confidentially… After my visit… in many cases, they form a little Lagarde group… and they exchange emails. They have a mailing list and they carry on working together… There have been, you know, business deals, relationships formed and I think it’s a fantastic way to bring people together.”
ON FEELING THE GUILT OF BEING A MOTHER WITH A SUCCESSFUL CAREER:
“You live with guilt, you learn how to deal with it, but there have been many occasions when my kids were small where I couldn’t go to a parents event, or I couldn’t go to visit with the teachers on a particular day on a particular time because I was tied up in court, or because I had a real strong professional commitment. Well, you feel guilty about it and then you deal with it and you try to make up by organizing yourself differently.
ON TURNING DOWN A JOB IN A LAW FIRM WHEN SHE WAS TOLD THAT BEING A WOMAN MEANT SHE COULDN’T BE MADE A PARTNER:
“I was told that I would be a great recruit that I would be given good work to do, but that I should never expect to make partnership because I was a woman…and I thought to myself, you don’t deserve me, I’m going…and I had that sense of extraordinary freedom, walking down the staircase, and thinking to myself what would I do in this firm? Why would I work with that kind of attitude?”
ON PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN HER LIFE:
“Clearly the death of my father when I was 16 was a pivotal moment because you suddenly realize the hardship, the pain… It certainly was for me a better understanding of how tough it can be for a single mother to raise kids.”
* Interview excerpts provided by CNN’s ‘Leading Women’