Women can also help combat the financial crisis
By Shadi S. Sarieddine (CPA, MSc, BSc)
MBA Candidate-University of Cyprus
During this period of discussions for the appointment of the new Board of Directors of the Bank of Cyprus, names are thrown here and there without seemingly having an established, transparent process for doing so. Certainly, appointments should be made from among individuals who can positively contribute to an organisations’ wellbeing, especially so during these harsh (financial and otherwise) times.
Yet, a factor that doesn’t seem to be taken into consideration in this selection process is the board’s diversity in terms of gender and most importantly, the associated benefits of such in terms of the potential of increased profitability, diversity of thought and sustainability.
EU legislation is soon expected to be passed requiring 40% representation of women in BoD structures of publicly listed companies, an arrangement not aiming to claim human rights per se but one that makes absolute business sense. The EU supports gender-balanced representation across board of directors of businesses having seen the associated benefits. Not only does literature suggest so, but also the actual experiences of countries like Norway, Spain, Iceland and France.
This is a call to local authorities to initiate actions in this respect by first recognising the underlying benefits associated with such an arrangement. In other words, to promote gender diversity for the right reasons.
Government: Create/Empower Committees to undertake the effective implementation of the forthcoming EU legislation, raise awareness in this respect, aim to facilitate women progress/undertake senior responsibilities (i.e. initiate training programmes, create public databases with women wishing to undertake such positions, enforce objective recruitment criteria for board appointments etc), enact sanctions for non-compliance.
Capital Markets Committee: Enhance the Corporate Governance Code to exercise pressure to publicly listed companies to incorporate gender issues in their board appointments.
Political Parties: Actively support gender equality and the endeavours of government in this respect/promote women representatives as role models.
Employer Organisations: Enhance Codes of Conduct to which members abide by to promote gender issues across all size of companies, not only large size, publicly traded.
But this is also a call to local corporations and the society at large.
Corporations: Incorporate gender diversity into your mission/strategy. The benefits of adopting a gender diversity policy can be tremendous. The costs associated by ignoring it, potentially unbearable (as can also be seen by the effects of the financial crisis).
Society: Aim to combat stereotypes against women. They comprise a vast pool of talent, most remaining unexploited.
Let us all reap the benefits from all available sources in an effort to overcome the challenges of today. Women can greatly help.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and in no case represent the views of the author’s employer or the University of Cyprus.
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