Work-life balance programmes best way to help increase the number of female executives
Sarajevo, 23rd January 2013 - According to the Women in Business report, prepared by professional audit and advisory service firm Deloitte and presented in a conference held in the amphitheatre of the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina, almost one-fourth of the respondents consider work-life balance programmes helpful for women in reaching executive positions in corporations1. Also, a higher share of female executives could be boosted by more flexible work options and performance evaluation systems that neutralize the effects of taking a parental leave.
The research shows that only 29 percent of the respondents know a large number of women occupying executive positions in their companies. On the other hand, similar results have been obtained regarding the respondents' perception of the differences between women and men executives.
"For example, the vast majority of the respondents find that the differences between women and men when facing business challenges, implementing long-term corporate development strategies and fighting for the firm's position in competitive markets are not significant. What distinguishes men from women is the level of compassion, and the perception is that women are more compassionate", says Sabina Softić, Deloitte Audit Partner.
The perception of the qualities of men and those of women executives differ among the companies. Women have been identified as more advanced in communication (50 percent), more honest (54 percent), more analytic (53 percent) and more capable of multitasking (63 percent). On the other hand, the study has shown that men are more self-confident in making decisions (34 percent).
Despite the differences identified between the female and male representatives, the study has demonstrated that people recognise that both sexes are capable of achieving measurable targets of their companies. As many as 6 (59 percent) out of 10 respondents believe that women and men perform similarly in terms of achieving financial targets, such as sales, profit and similar figures.
For women in top executive positions, professional recognition is accompanied by a series of challenges, which may be explained by our traditional heritage. As many as 93 percent of the Deloitte research participants think that businesswomen in Bosnia and Herzegovina are treated with respect. Although there are no official data available, the impression is that the number of women executives in Bosnia and Herzegovina is still low. High 43 percent of male and female respondents find that women are less likely to be promoted for their commitment and high performance. Also, almost 41 percent of the respondents find women executives generally less paid than their male peers.
Our study shows that women excel in professionalism, that they possess broader knowledge, exceptional ethics, multitasking capabilities and focus on detail. The profile corresponds with the traditional perception of financial executives, manager and chief operation officer roles. On the other hand, men are better in finding their way around the risks inherent to strategic planning and governance. They have been identified as good strategists and role catalysts (they function as change agents). "Obviously, the governance styles of man and women are complementary. Women's skills add to the daily functioning and organic growth of their companies. On the other hand, men's risk proneness puts them on the front line in case of mergers, acquisitions, or access to new markets. Clearly, financial performance and developing a sound climate in an organisation depend on the optimum gender mix i.e. balance at all managerial levels", concludes Softić.
1 The Deloitte member firms carried out the research involving around one hundred women and men executives in most successful companies throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina