Women at the top, help for female entrepreneurs
As reported in our last issue, in Spain a meager 8.5% of females occupy senior positions in companies, 0.5% less than in 2010. However, each day we see more businesswomen rising to senior management positions and becoming entrepreneurs.
HELP FOR FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS
BUSINESS ASSISTANCE FOR WOMEN PROGRAM (PAEM)
Its aim is to encourage the creation and consolidation of companies led by women and facilitate access to financing on favorable terms. With the participation of the Higher Chamber of Commerce, Microbank and financial support from the European Social Fund. www.e-empresarias.net
It aims to promote and strengthen businesses run by women. The Spanish State Secretariat, together with Microbank (La Caixa’s “social bank”) facilitates access to financing through miniloans without the need to put up personal collateral. participating in this project is the Banco Mundial de la Mujer. www.bancomujer.org
According to Elizabeth Lynch, head of the Women’s Leadership Program at the Women’s World Banking (WWB) organization, “businesswomen are powerful role models for other women, including their own clientele, and gender diversity in leadership positions favors common sense in business.” Despite this, men and women still do not have the same opportunities when it comes to developing businesses, as has been recognized by the European Parliament in its Resolution on businesswomen (31 May, 2011) urging Member States to promote the establishment of businesses by women as one of the ways to achieve a more sustainable form of growth.
In Spain there is still much to be done. Thus, in 2010, according to data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor project, only 36.4% of Spanish entrepreneurs were women, representing a drop of almost six percentage points since 2008, attributed to the effects of the economic crisis.
Despite the difficulties, and in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy, we must promote an entrepreneurial culture, foster innovation and ensure that no ideas that can generate growth and employment end up stymied for gender reasons. To overcome the current crisis we need all the talent available, that of both men and women alike. Wasting it would be suicide.
Business BCN recently held its Business VIP event, attended by prominent Barcelona executives and entrepreneurs. At the lunch/debate attendees disscusedand exchanged ideasabout the role of womenin the business andinstitutional sectors.
The guests had a chance to enjoy a delicious meal while discussing a range of issues, such as worklife balance, women’s wages, and the role of women in corporate leadership positions. In the presentations Anna Molero, from Barcelona Activa, stated that the current labour situation is difficult for everyone but, at the same time, her institution harbours hopes that businesswomen will start companies, based on a major program they are developing.
Meanwhile, Ana Izquierdo, explained how her association aims to encourage women to start up enterprises in the field of technology. Carme García Ribas, Director of the Master’s in Women’s Leadership of the UPF, highlighted the importance of promoting training so that professional women can take on their personal and professional projects and bloom as they learn to head up organizations, companies, political entities, etc., bringing an approach to gender and talent which has not taken off, for different reasons. And Gemma Ravasi, with the Hotel Majestic, expressed her confidence in women and their professional capacity.
Over the course of the event there were interesting professional anecdotes from some of the attendees, and opportunities for some profound reflection on the professional position of women compared with that of men. Carme Garcia, for example, asserted that “we are different but desire equal rights. We’ve worked so much on equality that is has become twisted. It would be worthwhile for us, together as women, to reflect on our identity and to have the self-awareness to reconsider our attitudes and fears. And then there is the question of cooperating with men. They are not the enemy. Rather, the cultural model which surrounds us is, which places us in this difficult position.”
Along this line businesswoman and mother of four Ana Maiques had this to say: “I do not have time to think. I run the company, family, and I move forward. I don’t feel much guilt about anything. I’m a professional, I do my job well, I think my children are really happy, and I want my children to grow up with a hardworking mother. I don’t always have time for me, personally, but I get around to it. I don’t consider myself to be especially meritorious, but I think I’ve made a difference along the way.” The meal came to a close with several memorable comments and phrases, the following highlights among them.
Manager and Co-owner Iradier Club Mujer
Greatest achievement: Creating Iradier Club Mujer, in operation for 32 years and employing 175 people.
“Women have a long way to go in companies. We have made a lot of progress and it is becoming easier and easier to find women with positions of responsibility in companies, but we are far from done. A good option for women is to create their own businesses, as in this way they can better balance their professional and family activities, distributing their time in a more flexible and satisfying way. “
Business Development Manager Starlab
Greatest achievement: starting a company and a family at the same time, and being happy with both results
“I think we need to “naturalize” the debate. There are great men and women working in key sectors. We women joined the labor market later, but I’m sure that the facts will demonstrate that our role in the economic world is not only growing, but essential.”
Entrepreneur and consultant Ellas 2.0
Greatest achievement: Vice-president at HP, taking the large-format printing business from a mature business to 20% annual growth in 2 years.
“As women we are the ones who put the brakes on ourselves. There are powerful and successful women in business, but they often adopt masculine values. I think that we women have to contribute by introducing feminine values, such as cooperation at work, as it has been demonstrated to produce better results.”
General Director and Co-founder BCN Touch
Greatest achievement: Launching a tech company in Barcelona during a tough economic period
“Women should go for it more and start businesses. Getting up and working in something you love is a blessing.”
General Director and Co-founder NewFormacion
Greatest achievement: Launching an online education company in Malaga.
“Women has a great skill to entrepreneurship.”
Consultant for the Dona i Empresa (Women & Companies) Foundation/Director of the Women, Business and Economics Observatory for theBarcelona Chamber of Commerce
Greatest achievement: Having a daughter and raising her in goodness, love, generosity and rectitude. On a professional level, working in what has represented my passion in life: promoting women’s economic independence through career development and the creation of businesses; specifically, creating the first microcredit program for women entrepreneurs.
“Women run, organize and create firms with a different style. Women today are in a position where they can lead without imitating masculine patterns. Female leadership meshes with the skills necessary to lead today and the companies and organizations of today and tomorrow: horizontality, communication, empathy, power sharing and natural leadership.”
Controller, Family Office y Presidenta del Comité de Igualdad de GAES, GAES Centros Auditivos
Greatest achievement: Chairing the GAES Equality Committee, one of the biggest challenges in her career.
“Equality is increasingly present in all areas of life. We’ve come a long way, but there is still a long way to go and many inequalities yet to be overcome. It’s not about discriminating against men, but generating more opportunities for women.”
Founder Gild International; Bcnin
Greatest achievements: my three children, husband and my four businesses. Integrating into a new country.
“You’ve got to have ambition, perseverance, and not be afraid to ask for advice. Women represent a powerful force in the business world, but they still sometimes lack confidence, and hold back when it comes to going for it and overcoming their own barriers.”
Director of the Majestic Hotel & Spa / Director of Operations Majestic Hotel Group (MHG)
Greatest achievement: Having the opportunity to head up a great team, carrying out one of the greatest refurbishment projects the Majestic Hotel & Spa has ever seen.
“Female talent exists and there are more and more women running companies. I think we have much to contribute and businesses that committed to mixed management teams work best. The key is to hire good, talented professionals, regardless of whether they’re men or women.”