Kering Shakes Up Its Board Of Directors With Three New Members: Jean Liu, Tidjane Thiam, and Emma Watson

Kering looks to the future with the appointment of three new board members whose diverse talents and backgrounds aim to bring new energy and ideas into the luxury group.

By Sophie Furley

When it comes to corporate governance the description “male, pale, and stale” is still very much the norm, but boards of directors are slowly looking around the table and realizing that they need more diversity. Diversity is key to creativity, performance, and to success. Ten people with the same background, the same education, and the same values will just politely agree with each other, where ten people from diverse backgrounds with different perspectives and experiences will have a broader range of ideas and solutions.

These three new appointments are far from diversity for diversity’s sake, the combined wealth of experience and skillsets of these three well-known figures will be an important asset to the group, as François-Henri Pinault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kering commented: “I am delighted to welcome Jean Liu, Tidjane Thiam, and Emma Watson to our Board of Directors. Their respective knowledge and competences, and the multiplicity of their backgrounds and perspectives will be invaluable additions to Kering’s Board of Directors. The collective intelligence that comes from diverse points of view and the richness of different experiences are crucial to the future of our organization. I am proud to add such impressive talents to the team.”

Emma Watson

Let’s start with Emma Watson, as probably the most famous newcomer. It might be a surprise to see an actress on a board of directors, but it isn’t her skills at playing Hermione Granger in the film adaptations of the Harry Potter book series that caught the attention of Kering’s shareholders, but rather her work as an activist for women’s rights and sustainability.

A list of Watson’s achievements as an activist is far longer than her IMDB profile! She was appointed a UN WOMEN Global Goodwill Ambassador in 2014 and launched the HeForShe initiative aimed at involving men in the promotion of gender equality. She is part of the TIME’S UP Entertainment Steering Committee and helped establish the UK Justice and Equality Fund. She has also been instrumental in helping launch the new UK industry-wide guidelines on harassment and bullying within the British film and television industries. And in 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron invited her to sit on the G7’s advisory Gender Equality Council.

Watson is also a pioneer in advocating for sustainable fashion and is a supporter of Good On You, a mobile app that allows consumers to check the sustainability credentials of clothing brands. And in 2018, she was invited to guest edit an edition of Vogue Australia on the topic of sustainable development and responsible consumption. For her new role as a Kering director, Ms. Watson has been appointed Chair of the Sustainability Committee of the Board of Directors.

Jean Liu

Jean Liu is the President of Didi Chuxing, the world’s largest multi-modal mobile transportation platform that delivers over 10 billion orders a year to over 550 million users across Asia, Latin America, and Australian. She champions a more collaborative approach for the new tech sector to work with policymakers, the public sector, and the automotive industry to address the world’s urban services, as well as environmental and employment challenges.

She is an advocate for women’s empowerment in the tech and economy sectors and has received numerous awards and accolades including places on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International List from 2016 to 2019, and Finance Asia’s list of The Region’s Top Entrepreneurs 2019. She is also on the list as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, an Asia Game Changer (2017), and Fast Company’s World’s Most Creative People in Business (2016). She is also a founding member of the advisory board of the Bloomberg New Economy Forum and a member of the Asia Society’s Board of Trustees.

Tidjane Thiam

Tidjane Thiam is best known for his role as CEO of Credit Suisse where he served from July 2015 to February 2020. In April of this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson of the African Union, appointed Thiam as African Union Special Envoy on COVID-19.

Throughout his career, he has led organizations in both the private and public sectors and his resume includes a glowing list of leadership positions at the top of the world’s most prestigious companies and organizations. During his role as CEO of Credit Suisse, he was credited with the success of a three-year restructuring program, which led to the Banker of the Year Award for Excellence in 2018, and in 2019, under his leadership, the bank had its highest profits since 2010.

Thiam was recognized as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 1997 and was included in the WEF’s world ‘dream cabinet’ in 1999. He is a member of the Group of Thirty (G30), a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and a member of the IOC Finance Commission. He has served on the Board of Directors of 21st Century Fox (2014-2019) and was awarded the Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 2011. For his new role on the Board of Directors of Kering, Thiam will be Chair of the Audit Committee.

With these three new appointments, Kering is gaining great intellectual knowledge and experience that can only help the group negotiate future challenges. Let’s hope that this is a move that will inspire other luxury brands to embrace diversity at the top.

(Images provided by Kering)

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