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Are We Really in the 21st Century?

By Carlos Herrero - Extrategia de Comunicación y Medios


By Carlos Herrero | CEO - Wed, 06/07/2023 - 10:00

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We are in the 21st century, but it seems that rationally and vitally we have remained in previous centuries. The 21st century, crowned by artificial intelligence and all its challenges, continues to give way to questions on many aspects in all fields, including the economic and business segments.

On April 24, Madrid hosted the second forum of the Women Economic Forum Iberoamerica, exported from Mexico, with two fundamental themes: women's economic independence and women's succession in family businesses.

More than 20 speakers addressed the topics with wisdom, perspective, and ... realism. Basic issues, such as balancing family and professional life, the wage gap, women's entry into the workforce, and lack of access to management positions and boards, made an appearance in a mixture of analysis and demands.

Sentences that seem to be taken from a country barely in development continue to impact us: "The inclusion of women in the economy is still an Achilles' heel;" "We are going backward;" "Today, more than 30 of the world's leading economies would not sign an agreement on women's dignity;" "Women are not committing enough to certain business positions;" "Public policies are facing other problems but not the inclusion of women." "Only 24% of teachers in Spain are women."...

And here comes the big question: Are we really in the 21st century? It seems that centuries of experiences, lessons, and decisions have not bequeathed us the progress that we apparently believed we had achieved. We are in the century of artificial intelligence (AI) but we are going backward in the inclusion of women. Where is the logic? From what perspective can we see coherence?

Cani Fernández, president of the National Commission of Markets and Competition; the president of Michelin, Spain and Portugal, María de la Paz Robina, who began her career working in a workshop; and Adiaratou Iglesias, Paralympics gold medalist in Tokyo, disabled, ambassador of Iberdrola, were present at the forum.

Women like Patricia Balbás or Sonia Moya, who, although not yet 30 years old, are already part of the Family Business Council; Francesc Noguera, CEO of Altamira Dovalue; and the communication director of RIC Energy, Patricia Vázquez were there. From from the academic world, there were María Enciso (family business) and Belén Mainer (gaming); representatives of the UN, such as Ana María Salazar; and communication entrepreneurs: Lucía Casanueva and Rocío Márquez; Beatriz Crisóstomo representing women in innovation, since she develops for Iberdrola; and journalists Laura de la Quintana and Julia Montoro, among others.

All these women are and will be demonstrating their value for the economy and society, yet this representation fails to reach all women.

Having these clear and evident examples, it is not well understood why these attainable models do not permeate society. There are likely to be reasons for analysis, projection, leadership, communication, and transformation that converge. But we are in the 21st century. We cannot wait much longer for all these perspectives to transform society.

This meeting, with the concept of female leadership among businesswomen, academics, journalists, athletes, and social leaders, put us in front of the true mirror of this 21st century that has not yet established the basic foundations of an inclusive society.

In this context, the exceptional witness and committed ally of the forum was the newspaper El Economista, with its director Amador Ayora, commercial director Gabriel González, and their entire team. As a great observer of reality, El Economista and its social networks presented all these comments, with a call to put hands to work in the development of women's leadership, starting with their inclusion.

When all the big data, business analytics, and AI platforms clearly show that women are transforming the economy and are indeed an engine of it, it is inconceivable that not only is there no efficient inclusion but also that we can still see a backward path. Perhaps the progress we thought we had made was not really much progress at all. Perhaps an acceptable gender perspective has not been enough and in some cases it has even gone astray.

Companies are well aware that they are not yet in the best of all worlds with respect to inclusion. To that end they seek, with good intentions, leadership quotas and the presence of women on boards. And certainly some are succeeding. But all these measures are palliatives, not solutions. They are measures: important, yes but not decisions. We are trying to fix the dress or the suit but we are not getting it right from the beginning.

And there is no point in resorting to blame, because we are all involved in this issue of inclusion, including women, who in certain circumstances have chosen less committed or less visionary roles in the economy and in business. Realism can only lead us to know, understand and learn from facts and data. If we succeed in transforming this status quo into learning, we will have taken a giant step forward.

And if this is happening in the capitals of each country, imagine other cities with less possibility of proposing these forums for reflection. In Mexico, for example, steps are already being taken. Torreon, Coahuila, for example, will host the next Women Economic Forum Iberoamerica in October. The inclusion of women must be universal and cannot be limited to certain countries or cities.

We still have a long way to go before this 21st century seriously surprises us regarding the inclusion of women. The data are evident and their analysis allows us to assess them. We just have to move from words to action.

Photo by:   Carlos Herrero

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