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Role of Women Executives in Building Successful Business Models
6 June 2019
09:00—10:15
KEY CONCLUSIONS
The economy and society benefit from women in leadership

The role of women’s leadership is a very important topic. Globally, just around 34% of the managerial positions are held by women. Gender diversity at the executive level is highly beneficial. Women contribute to the establishment of a broad talent pool, better understanding of customers’ needs, and greater coherence within the company. Moreover, women are more conscious users of resources, and can have a significant positive impact on an organization’s sustainability. <...> UNIDO is striving to have women and young girls acquire the necessary knowledge and skills required by the new technological environment to further strengthen their competitive advantage on the global market — Yong Li, Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) .

Today, the question of promoting women’s leadership is relevant throughout the world. By increasing women’s involvement in the economy, it will be possible to add USD 28 trillion to global GDP. That would be akin to adding the economies of another China and USA. According to studies, when women develop their career or business, they spend money on healthcare, improving living conditions, and education for their children. This has a social effect – it makes the next generation more competitive — Veronika Peshkova, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Goodwill Ambassador. President of the Foundation for the Development of Public Diplomacy ‘Women’s Perspective’.

The recently established Eurasian Women’s Forum Council <...> has publicized the creation of 20 projects focusing on various areas [concerning women in business, – Ed.]. All of these projects aim to promote women’s roles at decision-making levels in government, the economy, and business. <...> This will benefit the economy, society, and women themselves — Galina Karelova, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation..

According to a study which was conducted over a six-year period in Russia, companies which had women in leadership positions had better results in terms of capitalization and profitability than companies where women were never or no longer employed — Irina Gaida, Partner, PwC Strategy& Russia .

Having women in leadership positions is key for an effective economy, and for business profitability — Olga Sorokina, Managing Partner, O2 Consulting.

Major companies are developing their own programmes to support women’s careers

Thirty per cent of our workforce is female, and 30% of our managers are female. <...> Seven years ago, we began to make investments to draw interest and create equal opportunities. Rosatom’s schools and nursery schools are helping to increase children’s interest in the exact sciences. Forty per cent of student entrants in our competitions are girls — Tatyana Terentyeva, Director of Human Resources, ROSATOM State Atomic Energy Corporation.

As a result of our ‘Catalyst’ programme, approximately 31% of the participants were either promoted or changed their job. <...> We changed the whole industry, since in the whole industry the level of hiring women directors increased by 400% — Erika Lindauerova, General Manager for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, HP Inc..

We set up a diverse hiring board. This means that you are not allowed to take a hiring decision on your own – you have to bring in diverse and several perspectives from different departments, and discuss hiring decisions looking at the overall diversity in the teams — Doris Lippert, Head of Digital Advisory Services for Austria, Microsoft Corporation.

We are implementing a project to develop female entrepreneurship. Every year, we hold more than 300 events and bring together the biggest community of female entrepreneurs in Russia — Nadia Cherkasova, Deputy President and Chairman of the Management Board, Otkritie FC Bank; Chairperson of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Committee, All-Russian Non-Governmental Organization of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses OPORA RUSSIA .

Gender-diverse companies are more attractive to employees and investors

Impact investors make up a fast-growing segment of investors as a whole. They focus not only on a project’s return, but its effect on social prosperity and sustainable development. They set quality criteria for how a company is managed (including with regards gender diversity at management companies) — Irina Gaida, Partner, PwC Strategy& Russia .

Based on a study that was done in 2015 by McKinsey, gender-diverse companies provide higher results than the market average by 15%. Another study showed that 35% of interviewed millennials left a job for another one at a company with a more diverse culture — Erika Lindauerova, General Manager for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, HP Inc..

We must not ignore half of our available workforce. (In Russia) women will account for (even) more than half of the available workforce over the next few years. It is important for employers to show that they promote social elevation, and that a woman who works there has the opportunity to reach the same heights as a man — Irina Gaida, Partner, PwC Strategy& Russia .

ISSUES
The number of women in leadership positions remains low

Out of the 149 countries that we surveyed [for the Global Gender Gap Report, – Ed.], only in 17 are women heads of state. For the rest of political participation, just 18% of women are holding ministerial positions, and 24% of women hold parliamentary positions. Similarly, only 34% of the managerial workforce around the world are women — Anastasia Kalinina, Head of Eurasia, World Economic Forum.

An important aspect is to recognize the problem [regarding the number of female leaders]. The statistics in Russia mask the problem. It has been said that 41% of managers in Russia are women, which paints a pretty good picture. However, women who are board members are primarily HR and legal specialists, while women in leadership positions are few and far between — Olga Sorokina, Managing Partner, O2 Consulting.

As technology develops, there is a danger that female unemployment may grow

Up to 47% of women’s jobs may become automated as a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We need to review women’s participation in sectors which are growing faster than the economy as a whole. One such sector is the creative industry — Veronika Peshkova, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Goodwill Ambassador. President of the Foundation for the Development of Public Diplomacy ‘Women’s Perspective’.

Societal stereotypes continue to exert a negative effect

A survey asked 1,200 women to cite the factors hindering career growth among women. Fifty-four per cent responded that having a family could thwart career aspirations, 53% considered that negative stereotypes surrounding female managers were a barrier, while 35% cited informal agreements made in typically male environments — Eugenia Tyurikova, Head, Sberbank Private Banking.

Currently 31.6% of people employed at the company are women, with women accounting for 26.1% of managerial positions. There is progress, albeit relatively small. <...> The company has a practice of self-nomination for managerial positions. <...> We have noticed that men put themselves forward when they are 60% confident of their suitability, while women only do so when they are 100% confident. <...> Gender inequality is not only the result of actual impediments, it is primarily psychological, and is rooted in how women evaluate themselves, and how society evaluates them — Julia Solovieva, Director for Business Operations on EMEA Emerging Markets, Google Russia.

The first thing that holds a woman back [from career growth] is a sense of fear. We need to fight this. <...> We need to have mentors, role models, who can show girls that there is nothing to be afraid of, that they should go into industry and work. The situation is changing: new working environments and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are providing more opportunities — Gulnaz Kadyrova, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

SOLUTIONS
Best international practices to support women’s careers should be created and rolled out

Our country is a global leader in the number of female executives, with 41%. Work to develop the women’s agenda in Russia is continuing apace. A proposal was prepared this year on developing the women’s agenda on the global stage using Russian experience. It involves a comprehensive model to develop the ecosystem for women’s participation in the economy. The development of an expert council is envisaged for the UNIDO platform. This will aim to form best practices and roll them out globally in order to achieve female leadership and entrepreneurship goals — Veronika Peshkova, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Goodwill Ambassador. President of the Foundation for the Development of Public Diplomacy ‘Women’s Perspective’.

Quotas for women in management

We have a mandatory rule that half of candidates have to be female. And half of people who are interviewing the person have to be women as well. These two things help to increase the chances of hiring a woman by 77% — Anna-Maria Treneva, Head for Sales in Central and Eastern Europe and Russia, Facebook Inc. .

I am a supporter of quotas. <...> They allow women to access the top positions — Olga Sorokina, Managing Partner, O2 Consulting.

Steps should be taken in education and society to support women in their professions

In order to solve the problem [of lack of confidence in one’s abilities, – Ed.] we need to raise people’s belief in themselves. This requires mentoring, education, and open dialogue on the importance of overcoming stereotypes — Julia Solovieva, Director for Business Operations on EMEA Emerging Markets, Google Russia.

We need to partner with education and the government system to bring in programmes for young girls to increase the interest in technical skills and technical positions. When we have after-school programmes, you can double the number of girls who successfully take exams in scientific studies — Doris Lippert, Head of Digital Advisory Services for Austria, Microsoft Corporation.

We need to work together with our male colleagues. <...> We value the contribution made by every employee, irrespective of their sex — Valeriya Seledkova, General Director, GEFCO Russia.

I have seen a lot of changes at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands: from no women ambassadors to almost 40%. It can be done, but we need to take the initiative and we need to support each other — Renee Jones-Bos, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Russian Federation.

We have held the inaugural ‘Role of Women in Industrial Regions’ forum. More than 10,000 people attended, with 16 countries, 14 international organizations, and 39 Russian regions represented. Discussions focused on business, the charity sector, the environment, education, and the health of women employed in industrial regions — Anna Tsivileva, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Kolmar Group.

The material was prepared by the Russian news agency TASS