Romania, a country of female executives?

The European project She Decides, You Succeed compares the position of women in decision-making business posts and finds that Romanian women are best placed

Sometimes studies throw up surprises, as in the case of the European project She decides, You Succeed. Different European organisations, among them the Association of Organisations of Mediterranean Businesswomen (AFAEMME), have looked into the current situation of gender, leadership and companies in five European countries: Spain, Italy, Latvia, the UK and Romania.

The surprise is that this last is the country with the highest percentage of women at the highest level of decision-making, even as an average. In Romania, 26% of the highest positions are occupied by women and in middle management positions the number is 28%.

One of those surprised is the Catalan Margarita Artal, president of the European Association for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (WiTEC). Artal insists that it is easy to find differences in the technology market, "as happens with Romania, where there are a lot of engineers in technological areas." The president of WiTEC points out that "in Romania there are also a lot of entrepreneurs and it is something that surprised us because of all the stereotypes. Apart from in Romania, there are no women in the highest positions and it is a problem because here we have a lot of women who study, but where are these women later on in the job market?"

According to the figures in the study, taken from meetings with 150 companies in five countries and 24 different sectors, although 44% of the staff in these companies is female, in general terms the number of women goes down the higher up the decision-making scale. The report concludes that 33% of women occupy low-to-middle positions, some 24% are in intermediary positions, and only 8% are in executive or leadership posts. "The actual situation is still far from full gender equality," the report concludes.

European claims
Nevertheless, one of the study's participants, Mirella Visser, founder and director of The Centre for Inclusive Leadership and Quality Controller of the Project (CFIL) and promoter of the professional progress of women in the Netherlands, stresses that "we have done great work in finding the reasons to convince organisations that there have to be women in decision-making positions." Visser insists that "we need more women in leadership positions because that will help other women in similar situations," and she gives the example of Italy, where the situation has changed quickly in the area of good practice: some 6% of company presidents are women and 15% of middle management positions are occupied by women.

As for the rest of the results by country, the study finds that among the percentage of companies with women in top management posts, Spain comes in with 26% -the same as Romania- Latvia has 22%; the UK has 20% and Italy the aforementioned 6%. As for boards of directors, only 38 of the 150 companies (25%) has a woman on its board and they are mostly in the service (21%) and ICT (18%) sectors. "Another piece of data to point out is that in many of the countries analysed the phenomenon of the family relationship in family firms persists, where often the female members of the board of directors has some type of family relationship with the shareholders."

On the other hand, the women in middle management positions by country are 28% in Romania, 21% in Spain, 20% in the UK, 16% in Latvia and 15% in Italy. Moreover, in middle management, the sectors with the most female presence continue to be the service sector (24%), ICT (13%) and sales (9%), to which can be added manufacturing (13%).

Example company: Ibis Hotels
As an example of this female leadership, the She Decides project has the support of Cari van Eekelen, German businesswoman and CEO of Accor Hotels Paris, a chain that owns, among others, Novotel and Ibis Hotel. Her company, which is committed to the gender equality she promotes, has set itself the challenge of making sure at least 47% of its staff is female by 2017. "In 2014, some 47% of employees were women, but only 27% were hotel managers. By 2017, the challenge is for 35% of hotel managers to be women," she says.
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