In the economy, we are still witnessing low representation of women in leadership positions, although gender balance is proven to lead to better company performance. It is therefore necessary to strengthen the activities in companies focused on talent management, while efforts also need to be invested into building of culture and general awareness, is the message sent from Slovenian GEMA conference on the benefits of balanced teams, YIN and JANG of a successful team, which took place on 8th of march 2016, organized by Employers Association of Slovenia ZDS.
In recent decades, in the European Union we have been witnessing a gradual progress in improving of gender equality. The employment rate among women rose between 2003 and 2013 from 54.8 percent to 58.8 percent, also 60 percent of graduates are women, but the picture is quite different in the case of female representation in boards of the largest companies. "By reading researches, soon we find out that in general we still are not thoroughly aware of the benefits of balanced teams at the company level. If we take the largest companies and their boards into the account, not only in our, but also in European level, we notice that women's representation is still very low and the managerial positions are often assigned to man, "said Jože Smole, Secretary General of the Employers Association of Slovenia ZDS. According to the research, in the largest companies listed on the Stock Exchange, only 20 percent of women are placed on leadership positions, despite the fact that different approaches and incentives, both within the European Union as well as nationally, seek to enhance the role of women in the business world. "Discussions about the role of women were exposed at different times in different ways. That fundamental dilemma, the dilemma of male and female principle, still exists. Male and female worlds do not exclude, but rather go hand in hand. Balance is the first tool to achieve progress on all levels of life. Entrepreneurship is no exception," highlighted Bojana Muršič, MSc, Vice President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia.
Quotas: yes or no?
Following the example of European countries, Slovenian Government is preparing a law to introduce quotas for less represented gender in management and supervisory boards of public companies. Encouragement of balanced representation of women and men in decision-making processes in the economy is currently one of the priority themes of the Republic of Slovenia in the field of gender equality, but the opinions regarding quotas differ between business representatives. "I am often asked whether I support quotas. Despite concerns that may appear, I have to say that I support the idea, since it has so far proven to be a very effective way in societies where equality in working life is not so self-evident, as it is in Scandinavia. With quotas greater participation of women in economic and political life is gradually achieved. Today, quotas are present in two-thirds of the UN member states, "said a supporter of the GEMA project, MEP, Tanja Fajon, MSc.
In the European Union, 11 countries have passed laws governing the gender balance in the economy. Often, as an example of good practice Norway is exposed, where in 2003 this area was first regulated and in seven years, the proportion of female board members rose from six to forty percent. Sonja Šmuc, executive director of the Managers’ Association of Slovenia stressed out that the companies must for themselves recognize the positive aspects of gender balance: "Companies where leadership positions are in hands of both genders, are demonstrating such an organizational culture that enables the progression of employees with better competencies. Consequently, such company more efficiently exploits their talents. Economic power is something that companies can no longer be blind for. If the leadership is not taking into consideration the opinions of both genders, there is a high probability that the company’s strategy will not achieve competitiveness. "
Voice of the economy
At the round table Advantages of balanced teams, which took place in the framework of the conference, the representatives of Slovenian companies Simobil, Steklarna Rogaška, Telekom Slovenije, Marifarm and Ljubljanske lekarne agreed that gender balanced teams affect the success of the company, but stressed out that attention should also be paid to the profile of the service or department. Larisa Grizilo, Director of HR sector at Simobil, highlighted: "We devote a lot of attention to selection of the best suitable candidate, both in terms of competences and in terms of diversity. We are aware that gender balance creates greater dynamics in teams. Talent management is a strategic commitment." Guests of the roundtable agreed that there are more and less successful leaders on both sides. According to Romana Fišer, MSc, director of Marifarm, it is important to give attention to training and awareness rising of all, including those involved in recruitment, and work on development of leadership skills and competences. Rok Zupančič, head of the HR department at Telekom Slovenije, added that the person on leadership position should be able to build a team, but must also be able to make decisions. "Only 10 percent of business decision are black or white and give you the chance to predict the result in advance. For others, you necessary need determination. Management competences are very specific, top specialists in the field are not necessarily the best leaders." It is therefore important to devote a lot of time to development of employees and management of talents.
The importance of culture and environment
Ida Turk, director of Human resources management at Ljubljanske lekarne pointed out that within the French group Lactalis women in leading positions are rare. "For our new owners women in decision-making positions were unimaginable. However, the culture of the company grew and the skills of people on leadership positions were the first and only criteria. As a result, there were no changes on those positions.” A similar experience was also shared by Klemen Žibret, MSc, from Steklarna Rogaška, where women are represented in management positions, on the other hand they developed a market in the Arab world, where woman are seen as absolutely unequal to men. However, they successfully changed those stereotypes with their partners.
Speakers agreed, it is difficult to change the culture, and this is an area to build on in the future. It is necessary to create the conditions, to take into account the diversity and facilitate equal opportunities, and sometimes maybe also offer an encouragement or two more to women in order to make a step forward.