Carol Xueref announced as winner of the 2016 IBA Outstanding Woman Lawyer Award

Carol Xueref

Carol Xueref
copyright Essilor - Raphaël Dautigny.


Today the International Bar Association (IBA) named Carol Xueref, Secretary-General at Essilor International SA, as winner of the 2016 IBA Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award.

Given biennially, the award recognises professional excellence, women who have influenced other women to pursue careers in law, and women who have advanced opportunities for other women within the legal profession. Ms Xueref will be presented with the award in Berlin, Germany, during the 7th IBA World Women Lawyers’ Conference Law in a changing world – how women can contribute to innovation of the legal profession, being held from 7–8 April 2016.

Responding to the news, Ms Xueref commented: ‘I am honoured to be recognised by the IBA Women Lawyers’ Interest Group as “Outstanding International Woman Lawyer 2016”. I am also proud that the award ceremony takes place during such a high-level and prestigious meeting of women lawyers, when they come together in Berlin as agents for change in the legal profession, share their viewpoints and achievements and contribute to the challenges of the legal profession. I take this award to be the recognition of a team, my professional peers and colleagues. I have attempted throughout my career to open doors, remain accessible and attentive, give equal opportunities and show that a lawyer’s strategic contribution to corporate bodies is a major advantage; as a result, I believe this has made key positions more accessible to other women.’

Prior to being appointed Secretary-General of Essilor International SA, Ms Xueref held the position of Director for Legal Affairs and Group Development at the ophthalmic lens manufacturer. She has been with Essilor for 20 years. Over this period she has expanded the legal department from 15 employees to a 90-strong multinational high-performance team providing legal advice and infrastructure to Essilor’s businesses around the world. In 2002 she was appointed to the Essilor group’s Executive Committee. Her international career is expansive, encompassing industry, banking, international relations and diplomacy at organisations including Essilor, Crédit Lyonnais, the International Chamber of Commerce and the British Embassy. Ms Xueref has conducted international business and trade relation negotiations, supported and led several hundred company acquisitions, and transformed and accelerated business development and commercial projects during her, thus far, 30-year career. In 2008 she was made a ‘Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur’ by the French government, for her contributions to the French legal and business communities.

In the letter nominating Ms Xueref for the award, Linda Hesse, Head of the Paris Capital Markets practice at international law firm Jones Day, wrote: ‘Carol has demonstrated throughout her career what women of intellect and commitment can accomplish, both in our professional endeavours and as agents for change in the legal profession and beyond… Carol consistently recognises her team and colleagues (“putting them in the limelight”) so that as she has advanced others are able to advance as well. Carol has ensured that the members of her team are given equal opportunities and remuneration as well as the time and resources… to achieve a proper work-life balance. This strategic opening of opportunity is a hallmark of a true leader and exactly the kind of woman we should honour with this award.’

The IBA Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award is generously sponsored by LexisNexis and includes a US$5,000 donation to a charity of the winner’s choice.

Stephen Macliver, Chair of the IBA Section on Public and Professional Interest, and member of the jury that selected the winner, commented: ‘The calibre of all the nominations received this year was once again outstanding – truly inspirational women making remarkable contributions all around the world.  We are delighted to confer Carol Xueref with the 2016 IBA Outstanding International Woman Lawyer Award. Carol stood out for her international stature, accomplishments, intelligence, compassion, commitment to the promotion of women and continued innovation, all of which personifies the spirit of the award and complement precisely past distinguished recipients.’

Click here for information about the 7th IBA World Women Lawyers’ Conference: Law in a changing world – how women can contribute to innovation of the legal profession.

Click here to download the conference programme.


Notes to the Editor

(1)    Past recipients:

  • 2014 – Dr Tukiya Kankasa-Mabula, Zambia
  • 2012 – Chief Olufolake Solanke, Nigeria
  • 2010 – Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE, England
  • 2006 – Dianna Kempe, Bermuda
  • 2003 – Judge Navi Pillay, South Africa
  • 2001 – Helvi Sipilä, Finland 

(2)    The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies, it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

The IBA’s administrative office is in London, United Kingdom. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington, DC, United States, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law Programme (ICC & ICL) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.


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