Gender equality in Finnish companies´ leadership still challenging

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Gender equality in Finnish companies´ leadership still challenging

Only a fraction of Finland's largest publicly listed companies are managed by women, according to a survey commissioned by OP Financial Group.

Nearly 40% of companies responding to OP's Corporate Pulse survey said they have faced challenges in trying to achieve gender equality in leadership positions, said OP in a press release on Monday.

A clear majority, or 68%, of Finnish companies that responded to the survey have taken action to promote gender equality in leadership positions.

"Based on the responses, large companies consider the realisation of gender equality in leadership to be an important theme. In practice, many companies are still taking their first steps in promoting gender equality. According to our survey, as of the end of May, just 6% of the 50 largest companies based on market cap listed on Nasdaq Helsinki have a woman as the top executive," said Katja Keitaanniemi, Chief Executive Officer of OP Corporate Bank.

About 38% of companies that responded to the survey said they have faced challenges in trying to achieve gender equality in leadership positions. A slightly larger percentage, 44%, disagreed with the statement.

Businesses, and large companies in particular, are facing increasing requirements relating to the diversity of personnel.

For example, an EU directive approved in 2022 requires that listed companies must have members of the underrepresented sex holding at least 40% of non-executive director positions by 2026.

The purpose of the directive is to increase the number of women on boards of directors and to focus attention on the selection process.

Nearly a third of companies responding to the survey said they would like to see more concrete ways to promote gender equality in leadership positions.

"Last year, women accounted for 34% of executives and 43% of non-executive directors at OP. In other words, promotion of equality still requires our attention and the work is not yet completed. For example, we try to encourage OP employees with children to use their family leave more evenly, in accordance with the 2022 family leave reform," said Keitaanniemi.

Keitaanniemi said that one important way to promote diversity is by consciously paying attention to diversity of expertise and experience when making hiring decisions and by engaging in open dialogue about the necessary expertise. For example, it would be helpful to take a critical look at the kind of industry expertise required from applicants.

"Many companies easily fall into the habit of selecting more of the same type of expertise, unless they make the effort to examine what is important in the here and now and how to increase the diversity of collective thinking. There have been successful cases in the past in Finland where a CEO coming from another industry has brought with them a new perspective on things," said Keitaanniemi.

A total of 100 Finnish companies with a turnover of at least 100 million euros responded to the survey, which was commissioned by OP Financial Group and implemented by Taloustutkimus Oy.

The survey was conducted by phone in April–May 2024.

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

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