In the Bissagos Archipelago, in Guinea-Bissau, women are usually the ones with the authority to manage the economy, social welfare and the law of the land. The anthropological history of the world contains a few specific cases like Bissagos, as well as a number of different schemes. In Western society, there has been a centuries-long movement towards schemes that are increasingly egalitarian in every way.
In recent years, the percentage of women on boards of directors has increased significantly throughout the world. According to a new report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in northern European countries like Sweden and Norway, more than 20% of executive posts are held by women.
But what about in Spain? Have you noticed a significant increase in the number of women reaching top posts in Spanish companies? The ILO report, based on data from 2014, says that between 5% and 10% of important leadership positions in Spain are held by women. Why is this?
It’s true that there has been progress in this regard, but the ILO’s figures show that much remains to be done. Initiatives like the Promociona Project – which aims to encourage the promotion of women to senior managerial positions and boards of directors – play a vital role in the struggle for greater equity in corporate executive posts.
ESADE is the academic partner of the Promociona Project, which is funded primarily by Norwegian funds and co-financed and organised by the Spanish Ministry of Health and by the Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Organisations (CEOE), which also manages the project. The project has already completed two editions (2013-2014 and 2014-2015) and is now going into its third edition. As we assume the challenge of reshaping Spain’s senior management landscape, we are aware that there is still much to do, both here and in many other parts of the world.
In equality policies regarding managerial positions, Norway provides a good example to follow. Norwegian law requires that at least 40% of positions on boards of directors be held by women. Although I have my doubts regarding the effectiveness of quotas, Norway is achieving very good results in terms of work-life balance for women.
The ILO report highlights some of the barriers that have left many women stagnated in their careers:
- Women have more family responsibilities than men
- Roles assigned by society to women
- Masculine corporate culture
- Lack of corporate equality policies
Institutions must take concrete steps to overcome these barriers. Hence the importance of the Promociona Project, which provides a forum where female executives from different countries can discuss their experiences, share their knowledge and support future female leaders.