Women in management improve performance

Decision-making processes not fully including women

Ernst and Young Malta executive director Grace Camilleri. Photo: Chris Sant FournierErnst and Young Malta executive director Grace Camilleri. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Studies suggest that companies with higher female representation at the most senior levels deliver better organisational and financial performance, Civil Liberties Minister Helena Dalli told a workshop yesterday.

Ensuring the equal enjoyment of rights and participation in decision-making positions was a prerequisite for the functioning of a better economy, the minister said.

Organised by Women Directors in Malta, in collaboration with Malta Life Sciences Park and HSBC Malta, the workshop, focusing on the role of female directors in male-dominated boards, was held on the International Day of the Girl.

The underrepresentation of women meant that women were not being fully included in decision-making processes within companies, Dr Dalli said.

“Such a gender imbalance means that capable and qualified women have fewer opportunities than men to advance in their careers and that women’s talents and skills are not being used to their full potential.

“This represents a loss for women themselves and even more so for the companies employing them,” she said.

Dr Dalli listed a series of government initiatives intended to support people with caring responsibilities, particularly women, not only to enter the labour market but to be better able to advance in their careers.

The equal enjoyment of rights and participation in decision-making is a prerequisite for a better economy

These include free childcare services, the Breakfast Club, Klabb 3-16 after-school programme and the Maternity Leave Trust that combats discrimination at the recruitment stage.

Addressing the same workshop, Ernst and Young Malta executive director Grace Camilleri said boards that wanted to experience optimum performance needed to recognise the value in diversity, which was not just about gender.

Boards needed to draw on the skills and experience of a broad range of people, she said.

Various studies showed that companies with female representation fared better in terms of performance, with a strong correlation between mixed boards and better return, she added.

However, it was more about meritocracy, rather than tokenism, she said, later adding that she did not want to just see diversity because she was female.

But are quotas the solution?

More than 20 countries have adopted quotas for women on corporate boards. Some have seen dramatic changes, while it is too soon to measure the impact in other countries.

Quotas will definitely quicken the pace to achieve the outcome that we want, but will it be sustainable, Ms Camilleri asked, noting that it could quickly degenerate into tokenism.

What we really need is more transparency and accountability on how people are appointed, she added.

Not just numbers

▪ There is a wide gap between the number of men and women in managerial positions despite the employment rate of women increasing by 5.9% in the last three years and 57% of graduates being female.

▪ With 4.5% of the board members of large listed companies, women in Malta are the fewest in the EU to hold such decision-making positions.

▪ Only 10 (14.9%) out of 67 MPs are women.

▪ In the 2015 local council elections, only 20% of the contestants and 19% of the elected councillors were women.

▪ In January, there were 12 women and 56 men serving as mayors in local councils.

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