A Snowball Starting in Norway
Edited by Silke Machold, Morten Huse, Katrin Hansen and Marina Brogi
Chapter 9: Boards and role models for supporting the climb upwards: Italy and Women Corporate Directors (WCD)
To increase the number of women on corporate boards, actions should focus on existing cultural constraints, boosting role models, favoring a change in the public depiction of women and reinforcing individual capabilities related to social capital tools. The attention to female leadership is increasing worldwide. In developing countries, a more important role for women is considered to provide higher social stability and to limit the level of aggression in society. In developed economies, going through recession, executive female contribution is considered an opportunity to exploit in exiting the crisis. But in spite of recognizing the importance of a higher presence of women in top positions, the gender gap still exists in these posts around the world. Research (Soares et al., 2011) offers statistics showing that men still dominate: women held 51 percent of positions in the US labor force employed in management and professions, but only 14 percent of chief executive positions are held by women – with only 4 percent in Fortune 500 companies. A study conducted for several years (‘Women Matter’ by McKinsey, 2012) highlighted how few women held top management and board positions in European companies. The study analyzed the trend of women’s representation on corporate boards and executive committees four years on, from 2007 to 2011, in nine main European countries: Italy, Norway, the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and the Czech Republic. In eight out of nine countries, there are now more women on corporate boards:
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