The commitment of women – and not only women – to promote greater women presence and participation in leading roles continues. We would love to open our writings with the typical openings used in fairy tales one day – “once upon a time” – and analyze this phenomenon as something that belongs exclusively to the past. Unfortunately, this is not the case yet, but as women members of the CISL Syndicate, we are confident and persuaded that it is going to happen sooner or later. Not because we say it, but because numbers speak for themselves, showing a slow but inexorable journey towards a more balanced presence of women in top positions. Europe is also studying how to stimulate this process which is still stuck at the starting line in most Member States.
Italy has made huge steps forward both in regard to the presence of women in politics – double gender preference on the electoral roll – and in the boards of directors of listed public companies. But whereas the first one still works irregularly in the various regional situations and we are looking forward to more good results from as early as next administration on June 5, the one on gender quotas in the boards of directors goes according to the calendar planned by the special law 120/2011 (Gulf-Moscow), strongly supported by the CISL Syndicate, which obliges the companies to appoint the members of its board of directors and audit committees so as to ensure the presence of at least 20% of the less represented gender on the first renewal and of at least 33% by the third term.
This topic was discussed also in Rome, at the Chamber of Deputies, on the occasion of the conference “Women in Boards of Directors: a Valuable Resource,” organized by Fidapa – Bpw Italy (Business and Professional Women) to support and promote the campaign “#boardswithwomen”, launched by Bpw Europe last March in New York, during one of the side events of the sixtieth UN Commission on the status of women, for the adoption of regulations across Europe that can guarantee gender equality in the boards of directors.
As to Italy, the conference was an opportunity to confirm the positive results of the law 120, which has increased and continues to increase the number of women in boards of listed and public Italian companies that is well above the mentioned limits imposed by law: between 2013 and 2015, the number of women has increased by about 8 percentage points, from 17.8% to 25.7%. A considerable achievement if one considers that before this law entered into force, their presence was only 6%, and that some companies are still on the first of the three planned renewals to increase their number to 33%. But besides numbers, also other important changes can be observed, such as the rejuvenation of the directors, both men and women, and the increase of their professional quality, higher levels of preparation not only of women, generally better educated than men, but also for men, with regard to the board of directors that have renewed without quotas.
These results seem to us the best answer to those who criticized and mistrusted the introduction of gender quotas with this law that however proved to be useful and valuable. The question of participation and enhancement of female talent obviously does not end with the law – temporary, by the way – but should be supported, from our point of view, by policies and strategies aimed also at a cultural change, essential to bring down “ceilings and glass walls” that determine the persistence of women in work and professional positions that are squeezed in lower-skilled and low-profile positions. These and other topics related to the female population will be at the center of great initiative, international, which will be held on June 21 in Rome, as our General Secretary Annamaria Furlan has recently recalled during the General Council.