In the face of today's economic and demographic challenges, the role of women in companies is steadily changing. Today "women in business" is not only a source of additional shareholder value and profitability of companies, increasing business efficiency, but also issues of economic expediency. As estimated by the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, an increase in female economic activity could ensure a 6–14% increase in Russia's GDP. According to a number of international sources, equal participation of men and women in business could increase global GDP by 3–6%, thereby increasing the global economy by $2.5–5 trillion.
Issues of gender equality, the implementation of women's leadership agenda in business and the economic benefits of increasing women's engagement in the management of companies at the strategic level were discussed in early March at a joint meeting of the Women's Leadership and Internal Communications Committees of the Russian Managers Association. Experts noted that most leading companies in different market segments now focus on the gender composition of the management and staff, career building and development of women's leadership potential. This trend is also demonstrated by the statistics of applications for the Top 1000 Russian Managers award. Over 60% of women directors for public and corporate relations, procurement, social responsibility and CSR who applied for the award made it to the Top 1000 list. Over 83% of the women who applied were among winner directors for investor relations and IT.
Elena Rechkalova, founder and leader of Women on Boards community, independent director and professional business mentor, also cited interesting data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during her presentation. She noted that companies with at least 3 women on their boards achieved an average increase in ROE of 10% and earnings per share of 37%, while companies with no women on their boards demonstrated declines of 1% and 8%, respectively.
The panelists also discussed the difference in conditions for the development of career paths of men and women in terms of industry specifics. The IT sphere is the most attractive for women due to employers' focus on skills and results of the applicant, it also offers flexible work formats. Lidia Lebedeva, Project Manager at Rosatom Corporate Academy, noted that the gender imbalance is historical in many professional spheres. For example, when choosing a university, women more often than men enroll in fields related to education, health and social services, and less often in STEM fields.
The panelists also discussed barriers to women's careers, noting that the importance of work in women's lives varies with age, marital status, children in the family and their age. Women also often show less self-confidence and are more prone to "imposter syndrome," which makes them very different from their male colleagues.
The imbalance among employees of different genders leads to the need to form an ecosystem of support for women through educational and leadership programs. "With this need in mind, we have created a unique leadership program for women, [In]Visible Force, and are now completing its pilot release. As practice has shown, the introduction of such programs in the corporate environment will not only support women and establish a community but also help overcome common barriers in a comprehensive way", said Lidia Lebedeva.
The event was attended by representatives of T1 Group, MyOffice, Segezha Group, B1 Group, Department of Economic Policy, Property and Land Relations of the Moscow Government, Women on Boards, and Rosatom Corporate Academy.