Better recruitment processes are one of a number of recommendations for boosting the number of women on boards made in new research from Hanken School of Economics assistant professor Emilia Vähämaa, together with professor Kim Ittonen and assistant professor Jesper Haga.
The research argues for the implementation of new systematic recruitment processes that define the kind of skills that are needed by the candidate and the way these skills are evaluated.
The metals and forest industries, Vähämaa explained, are examples of “male-dominated industries where the majority of those in management are men. It has proven difficult to create more equality with only self-regulation and own choices.”
Self-regulation is set to end by 2026 when a new EU directive of having women represent at least one third of all listed board members comes into effect. While quotas can often be a divisive subject, the researchers believe Finland should implement this quota sooner. “No one thinks that quotas are optimal, but many see it as necessary to achieve change,” Vähämaa said.
Barriers to equality identified in the report include women being more risk averse and more critical of their skills, as well as having greater responsibility at home. It also suggested that women may lack motivation to go into careers that are known to pay men more than women for the same job.
As is frequently the case, mentoring is put forward by the report as a good way to support career planning. In addition, it underlines the value of female professionals actively promoting their knowledge.
While there is still a long way to go, Vähämaa remains optimistic about the progress made towards gender equality: “Attitudes and values in society mean that companies have increasingly begun to pay attention to the role of women in management. Companies are more aware of all the benefits that diversity creates.”
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