Gender Diversity Matters

Yeah sure, but…

Equal opportunities and diversity are demonstrably good for business, and gender diversity is an integral part of this. In Switzerland, few managers would dispute this statement, as various studies and surveys have shown. This year’s survey by ROY C. HITCHMAN AG, in which 227 Swiss companies took part, comes to a similar conclusion. More than 80 percent of respondents are convinced that gender diversity has a positive impact on company results.

However, the big but follows immediately. When asked whether the recruitment of female managers was a strategic priority in their own company, just under half of the respondents answered in the affirmative. Diversity is good – but efforts to achieve it are still not very concrete in most cases. Just under half of the companies surveyed are taking specific steps to increase the proportion of women in management positions. It is no coincidence that women are still the exception on the executive floors of Swiss companies.

Those who used to console themselves with the thought that such a cultural change would take time and that, with a little patience, everything would work out in the end, can no longer take it so lightly. Since the beginning of this year, large listed companies have had to comply with “gender guidelines”. Women must make up at least 30 per cent of the board of directors and at least 20 per cent of the management. Companies have 5 or 10 years to meet these targets. If they fail to do so, they will not be sanctioned, but they will have to explain themselves and propose a catalogue of measures.

Why is change towards greater equality in the world of work so slow, and how could it be reversed? These are the two questions that ROY C. HITCHMAN AG put these two questions, together with the results of the survey, to a panel of experts who have experienced change and who should know: the women, because they themselves have risen to management positions, especially in technology-heavy areas that are still considered to be male bastions – and the men, because they are strongly committed to equal opportunities in their companies. Because they know: Companies that fail to make progress in this area are doing themselves a disservice.