Finland Chamber of Commerce won the first prize for its Women Leaders Program in the best corporate social responsibility project category at the World Chambers Competition in Torino. The World Chambers Congress gathered 1100 representatives from chambers of commerce of 110 countries. Altogether 79 applications were submitted to the competition, and 17 of them in the CSR category. Women Leaders Program was selected to the finals in Torino World Chambers Congress in Italy 10-12 June 2015. Deputy Chief Executive Leena Linnainmaa and Director Anne Horttanainen presented the project at the congress. The award ceremony was held at the gala dinner at the Royal Palace of Venaria on 12 June 2015 and Finland was declared the winner.
The small number of women business leaders, particularly directors, is an important and much discussed topic all over the world. In several countries binding gender quotas have been legislated for listed companies and they are discussed in many other countries. At least in some cases the background of the regulatory action was that the business sector did not take the leading role in promoting women business leaders. The Women Leaders Program of Finland Chamber of Commerce shows that the business sector can take the lead in promoting women business leaders and thus securing a more flexible regulatory environment for businesses when quotas are not legislated.
For already a decade, Finland Chamber of Commerce (FCC) is committed to actively promote women’s access to top positions. Promoting women executives through self-regulation is a strategic goal of FCC and we have created our Women Leaders Program to promote that goal. We find it clear that women executives can be promoted more efficiently through the active measures taken by the business sector than by legislated quotas.
One of the targets of our program has been to focus on having more women executives, while internationally more attention is paid to women on boards of listed companies. Directorships are, however, just the tip of the iceberg and the real issue is not dealt with if only directorships and quotas are discussed.
Our activities include a top-level Mentoring Programme for Women Executives, annual studies, a dedicated website (www.naisjohtajat.fi/en), statements, articles and contacts with companies.
Through the program, Finland Chamber of Commerce has become known as the number one expert on women’s leadership issues in Finland.
Elements of the program
- women business leaders studies
- mentoring programme
- program website www.naisjohtajat.fi/en
- articles, statements, speeches, video messages
- contacts with companies
- more women leaders
- data on women leaders available for public authorities, companies, media, researchers and the public
- self-regulation accepted as a solution instead of quotas
- extensive media attention
- positive public image
- financially feasible
- creates further CSR action
Finland Chamber of Commerce’s Women Leaders Program has gained excellent results and could be used as a model in other countries. It is scalable and can be easily modified to suite international needs. If you are interested in launching a similar Women Leaders Program in your country or would like to receive additional information on the program, please contact Deputy Chief Executive Leena Linnainmaa, leena.linnainmaa(at)chamber.fi, tel. +358 50 3561 183 or Director Anne Horttanainen, anne.horttanainen(at)chamber.fi, tel. +358 40 510 4907.