More Women on Boards. - NAJINTERNATIONAL Executive Search | Recruitments | HR Advisory

More Women on Boards.

More Women on Boards.

More Women on Boards in top positions: A new perspective in executive search. Diversification and Inclusion

Across Poland and Europe, there’s an observable trend towards hiring more women in executive boards and managerial positions. A common challenge remains: breaking the barriers that limit their presence in these roles. For example despite Polish women possessing the necessary qualifications and motivation for key decision-making positions, their representation in high-level managerial roles is lower than their educational and professional potential suggests.

In the European Union

Women are still underrepresented in these roles. According to Eurostat data from the third quarter of 2020, over 9.5 million people in the EU hold managerial positions, of which 6.2 million are men and 3.3 million are women. This means women make up about 34% of all managers in the EU, despite representing nearly half (46%) of all employed persons. This proportion has gradually increased from just below 30% in the second quarter of 2002. The highest proportion of women in managerial positions was recorded in Latvia (45%) and Poland (44%), with the lowest in Croatia (24%), the Netherlands (26%), and Cyprus (27%).*

Furthermore, in 2022, on average one in three managers in the European Union was a woman (35%). Countries with a relatively high proportion of women in managerial roles include Latvia (45%), Poland (43%), Sweden (42%), and Bulgaria (41%). By contrast, Germany has 29% of women in managerial positions, indicating a lower representation than the EU average. The lowest share was noted in Croatia (22%).**

In Poland

According to Eurostat, over 76.8% of working women in Poland have secondary or higher education, ranking them among the top in Europe.

However, women’s share in mid-level managerial positions in Poland is about 44%, which is better than the EU average, where only every third woman occupies such a position. In the top managerial positions in Polish listed companies, women’s representation is only 12%, while the EU average is close to 16%.***

Research and Reports

Studies and reports also highlight that women themselves partially decide not to reach the highest positions in companies, facing significant obstacles such as the preference for men in promotions or the stereotypical perception of women’s roles in business. Microsoft’s research among girls from 12 European countries reveals that in Poland, only 42% of them envisage a future in science, and only 20% of young Polish women believe they can match their male counterparts in these fields.

Data and analyses suggest that changing the situation of women in the labor market, especially in managerial positions, requires not just institutional and legal actions but also a change in mentality and breaking down stereotypes among both women and men.

The employment level of women in Poland, compared to other European Union countries, is moderate. The employment rate for women aged 15-64 was 64% in 2021, higher than the EU average of 63%. However, there is significant variation in this indicator across different EU countries. (Source: Polish Economic Institute)

The same report provides data regarding women in managerial positions. Across the European Union, women are underrepresented in leadership roles, but this disparity is relatively small in Poland. The proportion of female managers in Poland and Sweden is 43%. The only higher figure in the EU is in Latvia (46%). On average, in the European Union countries, the share of women in managerial positions is 35%, while in countries with the lowest levels (Luxembourg, Cyprus), it does not even exceed 25%.

In the World of Executive Search

Interestingly, in the talent management world, particularly at the executive search level, there has been a growing awareness and demand for gender diversification among business leaders. Our recent recruitment experiences show that:

– Clients increasingly expect candidate shortlists for top positions to include both female and male candidates.
– International Clients emphasize that if they meet a competent woman during recruitment for a managerial position, they tend to favor her.

This reflects a global trend towards increased gender balance in top management and more women in boards.

EU Directive 2022/2381 “Women on Boards”

This trend can be observed in the context of the new European Union guidelines aimed at increasing the presence of women on the boards of listed companies. The “EU Directive 2022/2381”, titled “Women on Boards”, aims to introduce more transparent recruitment procedures. The directive requires that by July 2026, at least 40% of non-executive board positions or 33% of all director positions should be occupied by the underrepresented gender, typically women. It also introduces annual reporting obligations for companies to achieve these targets.****

National approaches to this issue vary significantly. Some member states have already introduced binding gender quotas in boards, leading to an increase in the number of women in these positions.

  • France is a leader both in Europe and globally in terms of women’s representation on company boards.
  • Germany requires that since 2016, 30% of supervisory positions in listed companies be filled by women.

Currently, only 9 out of 27 EU member states have national laws regarding gender equality on boards, indicating there’s still much to do to achieve full equality. The EU directive is a clear signal that the direction of change is unequivocal, and Europe leads in the fight for equal rights.*****

To comply with the new regulations, larger companies listed on the stock exchange, employing over 250 workers in EU member states, should review their executive recruitment strategies to ensure equality and transparency.

The directive encourages prioritizing underrepresented gender candidates with equal qualifications.

The new regulations will undoubtedly change the landscape of management at the highest levels in companies listed on the stock exchange across the European Union, striving for a more balanced gender representation in decision-making executive positions.

Monitoring the progress in achieving these goals will be key to understanding the long-term impact of the directive in promoting gender equality and supporting women’s participation in decision-making processes in companies.

Key Findings from Data and Market Observations

1.Representation of Women in Management

  • Women are increasingly visible in managerial positions in Europe, yet their representation remains uneven
  • In Poland, the percentage of women in key decision-making roles is one of the highest in Europe

2. Changing Client Attitudes

  • Clients not only accept but often prefer the presence of women in candidate lists
  • They argue this not just in pursuit of gender balance, but also in recognition of the benefits of diverse perspectives

Benefits of Diversity

  • Companies with a diverse board often achieve better financial results
  • Board diversity can significantly enrich decision-making processes and creativity

Strength of Female Leadership in Organizations

Having a woman as a leader in an organization brings several unique benefits that can significantly contribute to a company’s success:

  • High Emotional Intelligence: Female leaders often excel in understanding and managing emotions, leading to strong, empathetic relationships with employees and better team dynamics. This results in higher employee engagement and improved collaboration.
  • Inclusive Management Approach: Promoting diverse thinking and creating an environment where every team member feels valued is often found among female leaders. This culture fosters creativity and innovation, opening the organization to new ideas.
  • Better Financial Outcomes: Research indicates that companies with a higher proportion of women in managerial positions often report better financial results.******
  • Gender diversity in management contributes to a better understanding of the market and customer needs, leading to more thoughtful decision-making.
  • Role Models and Mentors: Women in leadership positions can inspire other women in the organization, motivating them to develop their own careers. Their presence helps break stereotypes and promotes a culture of equality, where advancement is based on merit, not gender.
  • Diversity of Perspectives and Managerial Competence: Women bring not only a diversity of perspectives but also strong managerial and strategic competencies. These are key for adapting to the changing business environment.
  • Women in managerial positions also often bring other strengths, such as multitasking ability, which allows them to effectively manage various tasks and projects.
  • They tend to make thoughtful, balanced decisions, contributing to the stability and long-term success of the company.
  • Additionally, female leaders can promote a culture of openness and collaboration, facilitating idea exchange and innovation.
  • Their communication and negotiation skills often help in building strong business relationships and managing conflicts.
Gender diversity in top managerial positions not only promotes a more balanced and fair work environment but can also contribute to better financial outcomes by introducing a broader range of perspectives, better understanding of the market and customers, and by promoting innovation and creativity in decision-making.

Barriers and Challenges

Analysis of the reasons and barriers for the lesser presence of women in managerial positions indicates the existence of phenomena such as:

  • Difficulties in balancing professional and family life.
  • Stereotypes about women’s lesser qualifications and predispositions for management and leadership.
  • The “glass ceiling.”
  • Stereotypes about women’s roles in business still influence decision-making processes.

Challenges for Executive Search Consultants

  • Promoting equal opportunities.
  • Designing recruitment processes in a conscious and inclusive way to minimize unconscious biases.
  • Strengthening awareness through educating clients and candidates about the benefits of diversity and gender balance.
  • Actively seeking talents, expanding talent search strategies to include women with high leadership potential.
  • Supporting clients in creating development and mentoring programs, aiding women in advancing their careers to the highest positions.

The role of Executive Search Consultants is evolving towards not only finding the best talents but also shaping more balanced and inclusive workplaces. Awareness of the importance of gender balance in top managerial positions is growing, favoring recruitment strategies that promote this balance. We are on the right track to building a more balanced and innovative business world.

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