GEMA news

Good practice from Slovenia: Family-Friendly Enterprise certifying system

One of the ways companies choose to systematically approach the area of coordination of personal and professional life is the Family-Friendly Enterprise certifying system. It represents a consulting-audit process and has been developed as one of the tools for effective and more quality human resources management within enterprises and organizations in the context of balancing professional and private lives of employees. The system was implemented in Slovenia about ten years ago and originates in Germany. Over a decade ago, in the framework of Equal project partnership, supported by the EU, project partners were looking for solutions on how to address the discrimination of young mothers in the labour market. Thus a German system has been introduced in Slovenia that rewards employers for implementing family-friendly policies. Following the completion of the project, the entire control over the certification was taken over by a member of the partnership – the Ekvilib Institute, which still issues certificates in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. From the beginning to this day, the number of certificate holders has increased considerably. To this day, over 250 companies and organisations, employing more than 80.000 people, have entered the procedure. In addition to the increased recognition in Slovenia, the procedure is being implemented in Serbia and Estonia as well.


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Report on women and entrepreneurship

A report by Deloitte and the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to OECD Putting ALL our ideas to work: Women and entrepreneurship shows that if women entrepreneurs are to make a greater impact across economies, special policy attention is needed on matters including but not limited to education, and non-discrimination, in areas such as access to finance and property rights.


The OECD Recommendation on Gender Equality calls on governments to reduce the gender gap in entrepreneurship activity. This Report seeks to offer practical experience to OECD, governments, companies and women themselves in identifying best practices, addressing obstacles and implementing policies that will help unleash the potential for women’s entrepreneurship activities. It is based on a BIAC Workshop held in Paris in June 2014 that brought together senior representatives from the governments of France, Japan, New Zealand and the U.S., as well as executives from multinational corporations and other business representatives. They discussed the financial, social, and cultural challenges facing women entrepreneurs and provided examples of policies and programs to help realize the economic and social benefits of women’s entrepreneurship.


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Report on Gender Equality in Power and Decision-Making Positions

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) published the report on Gender Equality in Power and Decision-Making in December 2015. The report evaluates the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action from 2003 to 2014 and describes foreseen trends of women in political, social and economic decision-making positions. 

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International Girls in ICT Day in Croatia

In 2015, for the first time, Croatia has, with a range of activities, joined the global movement of total 140 countries worldwide that on April 23, mark the International Girls in ICT Day. In Croatia, the main activity holder is the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM) as a member of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and partners of the project are the Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) and the Company Ericsson Nikola Tesla (ENT). The company that employs nearly 30 % of women, with a leading position in the domestic ICT industry, has clearly demonstrated that the ICT sector is the sector future and the prosperity in which success, perseverance and new ideas has no unnecessary restrictions, including gender imbalance.

The closing event in 2015, a round table on topic “Girls and Women in Croatian ICT Sector- Both Sides of the Medal“ showed how contribution of women to Croatian ICT sector is already very big. The crowded Grey Hall at the Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing and many other questions that were not asked, for which there was no time left, due to an enormous interest, witnessed that there is still a lot of room in ICT segment in achieving true gender equality, but also that in this segment, Croatia has world relevant and successful women and organizations, i.e. practices.


Supervisory board readiness programme in Hrvatski Telekom d.d.

In 2014 in Croatia, under the sponsorship of Ms Claudia Nemat, a board member of DT Group, an international educational programme called "Supervisory Board Readiness Programme" was launched. The programme aims to improve the representation of women in the management of the company, and especially in Supervisory Boards of the companies within the DT Group. The programme has been designed and organised in cooperation with the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT). 29 women managers from different business areas were selected by the boards in the DT Group and attended the programme. The ambition for the company is to select and enable highly qualified female executives to take on a mandate in the supervisory boards of DT affiliates by building a talent pool and network, and ultimately increase the gender balance on the supervisory board. The SB Program started as a learning and networking opportunity and has been developing into a solid platform for creating and increasing awareness of women's issues in business and to make a real change within the corporate organization and beyond.


GEMA newsletter: Benefits of Family-Friendly Companies

The issue of coordination of personal and professional life is closely linked to the issue of gender equality. We cannot deal with one without the other. As soon as we start to look for options on how to increase the percentage of women in leading positions and how to balance the gender structure of top leadership, we encounter a problem: due to the fact that women do most of the care at home and housekeeping, they cannot stay at work late in the same manner as their male colleagues.



You are warmly invited to read more in the newsletter, available in English, Slovenian, Croatian, Bulgarian and Macedonian language.


GEMA conference in Slovenia: Building culture and awareness

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.





Conclusion of GEMA discussion in Bulgaria: By changing the stereotypes, the glass ceiling will break

On 7th of March 2016, the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA) together with the Association of women entrepreneurs in Bulgaria (Selena) held a conference on “Gender balance in business – let’s break the glass ceiling”. The event was moderated by the Executive President of BIA.

Two major questions provoked temperamental debates between the participants, (1) how to empower the rights of women to take managerial positions and become part of boards and (2) weather to make the gender quota in boards a must for companies or not.

Employers, supported also by BIA, backed the opinion that any quota enforced by law is not good for businesses. The business activities and characteristics of the individual companies should be taken in consideration. Women and men, regardless of gender, need to show their potential and skills prior to reaching top positions in management teams. The place of women in business, in itself, is a challenge and challenges move the society. The opinion of this group was to let the employer decide alone whether to appoint a man or a woman. The existing written rules should be followed and the entrepreneurs just have to prepare an in-house strategy when hiring an employee of whatever gender.

On the other side, trade unions together with women organizations supported the idea that first the existing stereotypes to women in work need to be changed and this can be realized by introducing short-term legally-binding quota. Norway, where this legal measure helped avoiding stereotypes and increasing the performance of company boards, was mentioned as a good example.

Overall, the glass ceiling will break, when we break the stereotypes of thinking and when good examples prevail over the prejudices. On this behalf, the efforts of the Ministry of Education are very important, because small children should learn the right patterns of behavior from their early years.



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Association of Employers of Slovenia  - COORDINATOR

    • Dimičeva 9
    • 1000 Ljubljana
    • SI - Slovenia

EUROCOOP - Institute for European Research and Development

    • Vodovodna cesta 99a
    • 1000 Ljubljana
    • SI - Slovenia

Business Confederation of Macedonia

    • Vasil Gorgov 11
    • 1000 Skopje
    • MK - Macedonia

Bulgarian Industrial Association - Union of the Bulgarian Business

    • Alabin street 16-20
    • 1000 Sofia
    • BG - Bulgaria

Croatian Employers` Association

    • Radnička cesta 52/1 floor
    • 10000 Zagreb
    • HR - Croatia

University of Wolverhampton

    • Wulfruna St, Wolverhampton
    • West Midlands WV1 1LY
    • UK - United Kingdom