Pandemic slows progress on gender equality measures in Spanish companies

Pandemic slows progress on gender equality measures in Spanish companies

The effect of the pandemic has caused stagnation in the advancement of gender equality plans in the Spanish company, forced to implement emergency measures focused on operational survival and leaving diversity efforts behind -plan. More specifically, 3 in 10 companies (26%) admit not having taken any measures to improve the gender balance in their respective executives, a figure which represents an increase of 15 points compared to the previous year, whereas Only 11% said they hadn’t done anything.

This is one of the main conclusions of the seventeenth edition of the “Women In Business” report produced by the professional services firm Grant Thornton, based on nearly 5,000 interviews and surveys carried out with top executives around the world. whole, companies with 50 to 500 employees, including 400 in Spain.

After more than five years of upward trend, during the last fiscal year, the presence of women in management positions in our country has remained stable and currently stands at 34%. Despite the slight stoppage this year, the number of female managers in Spanish companies is equal to the European average (34%) and three points above the world average (31%).

“This is not a bad figure if you take into account the fact that we come from a trend that records significant increases from 27% to 30% in 2019 and from 30% to 34% in 2020. The pandemic has generated difficulties on the social, health and economic spheres, it should therefore be read in a positive way and not as a stagnation ”, estimates Marta Alarcn, partner of the Auditor of Grant Thornton.

This slight stoppage recorded over the last year has led Spain to leave the world top 10 countries with the most female executives, currently occupying post 14. The decrease is mainly due to the improvement of the percentage in some of the 29 countries analyzed. like Germany, which with an increase of 8 points compared to last year (38%) is the only European country of those studied to be above Spain, tied with the United Kingdom ( 34%). France (33%), Ireland (33%), Greece (33%), Italy (29%) or Sweden (30%) have a lower figure than Spanish.

The presence of women in management positions in Spain continues to show positive figures. Despite a slight decrease of 4 points compared to 2020, the percentage of companies with at least one woman in the management board stands at 87%, which does not prevent Spanish companies from continuing above the European average (85%) and three points below the overall figure (90%).

By region, the Community of Madrid leads the ranking in Spain, increasing by one point to reach 39% of women in management positions; Catalonia goes from 32% to 34%, Galicia from 31% to 33%, Andalusia from 26% to 29%, the Valencian Community from 23% to 26% and, at the bottom, Pas Vasco, which falls by ‘a point at 2. 3%.

“We have detected an improvement in practically all the Autonomous Communities that our study analyzes and which are the nuclei with the highest commercial activity in the country. In these countries, the workforce is now more female, but it is important that organizations do not stop the rise of female talent to more relevant positions, ”said Isabel Perea, Audit partner at Grant Thornton.

Spain, the country with the most operating directives in Europe

For yet another year, Human Resources is the area that brings together the most women in Spanish senior management, with 35%, closely followed by Finance (32%). The largest increase compared to the previous year was recorded in the Operations (28%) and Marketing (25%) Division, both with an increase of four percentage points compared to the data for 2020. This figure places Spain at the head of European countries with more women in operations management positions.

Behind these roles hide others such as the commercial director (14%), the company controller (8%), or the partner in consulting firms or professional services, who remains in the last position of the table with 7%. At European level, the largest increase was presented by female CFOs, reaching 32%, which represents an increase of four points compared to 2020.

The slight stagnation of female CEOs in Spain stands out, dropping two points last year to 23%. Despite the stop, women in positions of responsibility in Spanish companies remain above the European average (21%) and in line with the world average (26%).

Main measures of gender diversity in Spain

Although the pandemic has caused a slight general slowdown in terms of the implementation of new initiatives to advance in diversity, Spanish companies have maintained certain actions in order to improve parity and equal opportunities in their workforce. These measures include ensuring fair access to employment development opportunities, as well as flexible work policies, both with 35%, followed by the creation of inclusive corporate cultures (32%). These measures are presented in accordance with those adopted by the rest of the companies at European and global level.

In Spain, behind these actions lie the review of recruitment methods (26%), the development of mentoring and coaching programs (23%), the link between the remuneration of senior executives and gender objectives (18% ) and the possibility of accessing courses to avoid unconscious prejudices (16%)

For Marta Alarcn, “the complexity of the work landscape that companies experienced during the year 2020 may have influenced that many have relaxed their actions on diversity in one way or another. The important thing is that this circumstance is temporary and that the shares gradually recover from next year “

New working methods, beneficial for long-term equality

The study by Grant Thornton also analyzes the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on gender equality and balance in their teams. In Spain, as in Europe, most are not yet clear whether these new measures on new practices, based mainly on flexibility and teleworking, will allow women to play more important leadership roles or whether they will have a negative effect on their professional career. While it is true that, in the case of Spain, 44% of the leaders consulted believe that they will be beneficial for women in the long term, this figure being 36% in Europe and 46% in the world.

On the occasion of COVID-19, the Spanish company has put in place measures to increase the engagement of its employees, such as adapting its existing learning and development programs to the changing environment (55 %), as well as the promotion of work-life balance and / or flexibility for employees (53%). They are followed by actions that encourage the inculcation of new working practices to involve all employees with 48% and the creation of environments in which employees can present their ideas, problems and questions with 47%. And behind, fostering and maintaining an open door policy among middle and senior managers with 42% and paying attention to individual working styles and adapting their approaches with 41%.

Compared to all these measures, more than 80% of businessmen consider their viability very likely once the pandemic is over. In some cases, this belief that they will continue with the same emphasis and even with more intensity rises to over 90%. “Many of these measures have proven to be effective in terms of productivity, travel cost savings, and corporate cultures that further encourage daily interaction with teams, so we found that many of them will continue to do so. be applied in a post-Covid ”, Assures Marta Alarcn, partner of Grant Thornton.

Main characteristics of new leaders after the pandemic

The impact of COVID and the importance of real-time decision making have increased awareness of the traits a good leader should have. According to the Grant Thornton survey, the three most important traits that the Spanish manager, male and female, consider to be the most important for the future are adaptability to change (55%); innovation (40%) and managerial skills (38%). Immediately behind comes the bond (with 32%), the ability to collaborate with other managers in the company (with 30%) and the courage to take risks in the exercise of their responsibilities (26%).

“The featured managerial skill these months has been empathy, a style of leadership that we didn’t have ten years ago, more social, empathetic, communicative, that keeps things going. To reach this type of leader, the task of the Spanish company is to continue to promote inclusive environments, collaborative environments where everyone feels safe to contribute ideas ”, concludes Isabel Perea, Audit partner at Grant Thornton.

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