News Article

Boosting Female Participation in Directive Positions

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 05/26/2021 - 12:38

You can watch the video of this panel here.

The struggle for gender equality has been raging for decades. As time went by, women's needs changed and barriers to equality were gradually broken down. The fight, however, was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which slowed down the growth and career ambitions of many women. As Mexico moves into a new year and starts to leave the pandemic behind, efforts to achieve gender equality are once again taking center stage in companies' strategies. During the panel “Is the Future of Business Female?” held on May 26 at Mexico Business Forum 2021, female leaders proposed valuable actions to support companies as they work towards equality.

The panel opened up by moderator Andrea Villar, Industry Analyst at Mexico Business. She exposed how workplaces still have a long way to go before women achieve equal access to the same opportunities as men. “Despite women being the majority of the population, only three out of 10 women participate in Mexico’s formal employment sector; however, many women also take on unpaid work at home,” said Nazareth Black, CEO of Zacua. She also pointed out that during the COVID-19 pandemic, seven out of 10 women lost their jobs, which contrasts with current employment figures. Black explained that in order not lose the pre-pandemic gains women made on inclusion “there is a great area of opportunity to support women in leadership positions by creating initiatives and actions that will take advantage of the skilled and talented women that are willing to work in the post-pandemic era.”

In the post-pandemic recovery, companies could also take a leaf from a startups’ mindset in making equality a priority value, said Elisa Rebolledo, General Manager at Casai Mexico. “(At startups) we look for the best people for directive positions, regardless of their gender or race. Startups focus on capacity, not prejudices that do not relate to work.” Rebolledo also encouraged companies to wake up and see the actual realities of their employees. “The pandemic was the perfect example of how damaging gender roles are. By remaining home during lockdown, women faced the challenge of taking care of a home due to strict gender roles, which placed a great emotional and productive weight on their daily lives.” To end this, “companies should have in mind that male employees who are married to working women also need flexible times and have equal free time to help at home,” Rebolledo said.

Some labor sectors can also be improved in order to foment women’s participation, Maite Muñiz, Co-Founder of Truora, explained. “Software is a sector where women are not predominant; we have to normalize our presence on this sector because women are capable.” Muñiz explained that on the technology sector there is still stigma and gender roles are prevalent, which has kept women away from tech. “Despite women being more demanding with themselves, men are easier to convince to enter the sector; women still put limits on themselves.”

Anasofia Sanchez, Head of LatAm at Waze, said that these self-demanding patters become unsustainable for women, especially if companies enforce them. “Unrealistically high expectations on women damage their physical and mental health. Companies must provide necessary support for the demanding positions that women face at home and work by sharing equal recognition and offering flexible time for their male partners.” Black added that the “Wonder Women figure has been romanticized but society and companies that foment those patterns are taking a mistaken approach.”

In that sense, users are also acting as judges of a company’s policies. “To date, we are seeing people choose more ethical or inclusive brands that align with their own values, this is the best way to speak up to impact a company performance,” says Black. She also mentioned that “women should not be ashamed of wanting to be mothers and to have a family. Companies play a big role in allowing them to tie their goals of having successful careers and families.”

Companies also have a key role in promoting inhouse training that support women fulfil their directive position goals, said Brenda Lora, Managing Director of FrontierView. “For the company, it is easier to invest on inhouse talent rather that to look for it outside. This way they can match expectations with reality.” Lora explained that new jobs that demand more analytical, tech and data skills can benefit from inhouse training to promote current employees. This training will also incite diversity on C level positions, said Muñiz, and “open the conversation to new subjects.” She added that inhouse training should have female role models to encourage other women to reach their goals.

Lora pointed out that at a global level, companies are taking action and opening up to recruiting women of other cities, not necessarily capital cities or big hubs. “Companies full of men are simply not a reflection of the actual word, it just means they are focusing on one gender, “said Sanchez.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst