Giulietta Bergamaschi of Italian boutique Lexellent considers the changing status of women in the Italian workplace.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #PledgeforParity. In their words: ‘Worldwide, women continue to contribute to social, economic, cultural and political achievement. And we have much to celebrate today... But progress towards gender parity has slowed in many places.’
Perhaps surprisingly, Italy appears to be one of the countries that should be celebrating on this front. In the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Report of 2015, the country jumped from 69th place (out of 142 countries) in 2014 to 41st place in 2015 (out of 145 countries).
The report explains: ‘Italy gained 28 positions over 2014, mostly on its Political Empowerment sub index due to an increase in the percentage of women in parliament and women holding ministerial positions.’ Here, Italy moved from a ranking of 37 in 2014 to 24 in 2015. The main driver behind this appears to be the category ‘Women in Ministerial Positions’, where Italy has moved up to 10th place in 2015 from 32nd place in 2014. Encouraging statistics that indicate changes at the government level, but what about for the regular working population?
What does the larger landscape of ‘Economic Participation and Opportunity’ look like for women in Italy? Here, the Global Gender Gap Report reveals very modest improvements, with the country moving up to 111th position in 2015 – only three places above 2014. On a more positive note, the country moved up the rankings from 129 in 2014 to 109 in 2015 for ‘Wage Equality for Similar Work’. This is backed up by the statistics for ‘Estimated Earned Income’, which jumped from the 103rd position to the 84th in 2015.
Beyond the statistics, there are important discussions to be had in terms of equal opportunities for women in the Italian workplace. Perhaps the most notable of these was made by the Italian government with the introduction of the Golfo – Mosca law in 2011, which required publically listed companies in Italy to increase the number of female board representation to one fifth upon the first board elections and to one third on the second and third board re-elections. The last figures from CONSOB (the Italian Securities and Exchange Commission) in July 2015 revealed notable progress on this front, with 27 per cent compliance.
The World Economic Forum – promotors of International Women’s Day – certainly recognises the importance of gender parity on boards, stating: ‘Companies with women board members outperform in return on equity, net income growth and price-to-book value as well as a host of non-financial measures. Organisations must ensure women are exposed to strategic operations and functions to gain the experience needed for senior positions and set measurable targets for appointing women to leadership.’
This year, through its work in the field of employment and labour law, and through the strategic HR counsel it provides to its clients, Lexellent will #PledgeforParity.
Will you? International Women’s Day: Take the Pledge here
Giulietta Bergamaschi is a founding partner of Italian boutique Lexellent, which specialises in employment and labour law.