'More than lip-service needed in bringing women to key roles'

Jan 25 2013, 21:42 IST
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Christine Lagarde Christine Lagarde
SummaryThe discrimination against women is not much different whether it is developing world or advanced economies.

Top women leaders, including IMF chief Christine Lagarde and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at WEF, today demanded more than "lip-service" in brining women to economic decision-making roles and wanted an environment where they are not denied their rightful place.

Speaking at a session on 'Women in Economic Decision- Making', Lagarde said that women are doing a wonderful job wherever they have got the leadership positions, be it in banks or other sectors.

The discrimination against women is not much different whether it is developing world or advanced economies, she said.

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"But, at the same time, It matters a lot across the world to have gender diversity. It matters a lot, whether in developing or advanced economies," she added.

Viviane Reding, Vice-President and Commissioner, Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, European Commission, said the business results are indeed better when there are women in economic decision-making positions.

"But I do not favour a quota system. I want women to be there because of quality. Therefore, we have made provisions in EU that enables best of the women into decision-making positions. I want to break the glass ceiling. So, this law also has an expiry date so that there is a natural process for women getting into top positions."

Reding further said: "We have prepared a a searchable database of women who have done MBAs and who are board-ready and can be immediately put on the boards of the companies. INSEAD, Harvard and many top business schools are on board for this programme."

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer and Board Member of Facebook, said that organisations have a clear cut role to play.

"They need to ensure that there is no discrimination, lack of flexibility etc against the women. It matters a great deal for companies to have better gender diversity at the workplace, the research and studies have shown that," she added.

Lubna S Olayan, Deputy Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer, Olayan Financing Company, Saudi Arabia, said women education has been very high for quite a while, but opportunities for them have not been so.

"What is very important is that there has to be a change from the top and then we can move and learn. In Saudi Arabia, earlier women only had medical and teaching professions for them, but later there came areas like banking and gradually more areas have opened up," she said.

"It should not be lip service alone and quality

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