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Gender equality in top management

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 17.7.2015 14.38
News item

Project Manager Mia Teräsaho outlines the TASURI project and explains how equality can be increased in managerial career development and recruitment.

Text version of the interview:

What is the TASURI project?

The project Gender Equality in Top Management – Changing Practices in Economic Decision-Making (TASURI) aims to encourage equal gender representation in senior corporate management. The project was launched in November 2013, and it will run until the end of September 2015.

The TASURI project supports the objectives and actions of the Action Plan for Gender Equality adopted by the previous Government. It is carried out by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Gender Equality Unit and co-funded by the PROGRESS Programme of the European Union, which is funding around 15 similar projects within the EU.

A statistical study of male and female representation in corporate management was released in late June. Did it produce any new information?

The study of male and female representation in senior corporate management, which was conducted by Statictics Finland, explored the proportion of women and men in the senior and middle management of listed companies, the largest unlisted companies, and state-owned companies. It produced new information on unlisted companies and middle management, as there has been little information available on them previously.

Besides a chronological comparison of data, the study examined the various underlying variables. No previous study of the subject has been as comprehensive as this one but the information produced by various bodies has been scattered.

A study of recruitment practices for top corporate management was also released. Why is it important to study recruitment practices?

Companies' recruitment practices for top management have been studied fairly little in Finland from the point of view of gender equality, and the study of gender equality in the recruitment of top corporate management produced new information on the subject.

It is important to study recruitment practices for top management to contribute to more transparent processes and more open recruitment decisions and to identify areas of development in the field of gender equality.

In addition to listed and state-owned companies, the study focused on executive search firms. Recruitment practices and processes followed in the latter have also been studied relatively little in Finland.

The study report also contains recommendations for listed companies, state-owned companies and executive search firms on how to take gender equality into consideration in the recruitment of top management. For example, it is recommended that both women and men be included in the so-called long and short lists of candidates and that, when looking for potential individuals, recruitment be carried out systematically and searches extended beyond existing networks.

What are th e key results of the studies?

The key results of the interviews conducted for the recruitment study, for example, show that companies have engaged in many activities aimed at promoting equality, including equality in the recruitment of corporate management. However, this is not publicly visible in their strategic documents or on their websites. Companies should make use of these activities when building their public image and their image as an employer.

According to both the statistical study and the recruitment study, those on top positions in corporate management still follow a career path and education that are more typical of men than women. The statistical study also shows that managers mostly have technical training. Women managers have a wider educational background than men.

It seems that gender equality in senior corporate management does not increase by itself over time. The statistical study shows that the proportion of women in younger age groups is not very much higher than that in older age groups.

How will the results of the TASURI project be used after the project ends?

The aim is to distribute the results as widely as possible through our cooperation networks. The networks have been an important part of TASURI activities, and with active partners involved the project has achieved excellent results.

The statistical study has served as background information for the project working group on statistics. In early autumn 2015, the working group will issue recommendations for the compilation of leadership statistics by gender on a regular basis. The aim is also that the working group on statistics, i.e. the network cooperation between bodies compiling leadership statistics, will its work after the end of the TASURI project.

Further information about the TASURI project is available at www.stm/fi/tasuri (in Finnish).

Video: Kimmo Vainikainen