Women Leaders Program
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 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 most 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, statements, articles and contacts with companies.
Our Women Leaders Program has gained excellent results and could be used as a model in other countries. 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
program website naisjohtajat.fi
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
creates further CSR action
Background and targets of the program
The background of the program is the small number of women business leaders both in Finland and internationally. In many countries the business sector has remained passive and given the initiative to the public sector. The gender quota legislation enacted in many countries is a symptom of this phenomenon. The approach of the Finland Chamber of Commerce is that promoting business leaders through self-regulation should be the primary way forward instead of legislation.
We find it important that the talent pool of companies consists of the most promising persons, not just the most promising men as has been the case until recently. We believe that companies and the whole society benefit when women leaders find their full potential.
The Women Leaders Program has contributed and continues to contribute to the increasing number of women business leaders in Finland. The program has received huge media attention in the form of articles and interviews in newspapers, magazines and television. The program also contributes to the positive public image of Finland Chamber of Commerce
When expertise on women business leaders is needed, Finland Chamber of Commerce is contacted. Also many researchers have contacted us and we have been able to help many students are researchers.
Our work is known also abroad because we publish our women executives and directors studies also in English. Our representatives are often asked to speak at events in Finland and abroad at such fora as World Chambers Congress in Doha, Arab Women Leaders Forum in Dubai and Mixed Leadership – Sharing Best Practice conference in Berlin.
We also have an advisory role in the EU funded projects European Women Shareholders Demand Gender Equality (www.ewsdge.eu) and TASURI project run by the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
Financially we are able to cover the costs of the program through collecting a reasonable fee from the mentees of the mentoring programme and through sponsors who have offered the venues and catering for the seminars of the mentoring programme.
The project can be successfully adopted by other chambers of commerce everywhere in the world. The small number of women business leaders is a topic discussed everywhere in the world.