IKEA Romania, the Diversity Charter Romania, with the support of Sweden Embassy in Bucharest have launched a call for action among CEOs on a task force for gender equality within the Forum for Gender Equality, an event held on Friday, on the International Women’s Day.
The members of the Diversity Charter which joined the working group for the gender equality initiative are Dentons, Genpact, L’Oréal, Orange, Raiffeisen Bank, Sanofi, Unilever, next to other smaller companies in Romania. The network of companies and organisations joining this initiative are pleading for an even representation of women in the management positions, for equal pay for the same work and for equal opportunities for women and men.
At present, the initiative got together companies that have over 9,000 employees in Romania, aiming for further expansion.
Attending the event on Friday, Swedish ambassador in Romania, Anneli Lindahl Kenny, talked about Sweden’s strong expertise on gender equality, on its social and economic benefits for the society and voiced hope more and more companies based in Romania would join the initiative.
„We are very happy to be part of this initiative. I hope this initiative will see a more inclusive society in Romania. Gender equality is a fundamental human right. Negative gender bias is undermining our society. It makes economic sense to have a more gender equal society.
Sweden scores high on gender equality index, it has been a top priority of the country for decades, among political parties of all wings.
In the 70s we tried to promote women’s participation in work, since then we have heavily subsidized high quality child care, which made it easier for women choose working over staying at home with children. Even people will low salaries could do that.
I have observed that gender roles are more traditional in Romania, with less fathers on parental leave. However, I live next door to Herastrau park and especially on weekends there are lot of dads looking for their children.
In Sweden house work is evenly split at home especially in young couples. Studies have shown that when women are at the centre of boards the companies have higher revenue. Government, civil society and business societies have to work together and Sweden is very committed to this gender equality, all women and girls are given extra priorities.
This initiative aims at ending all discrimination against women, to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities in all levels of decision making, be it political, economic and public life.
The call for action in gender equality is a great step in the right direction to move forwards on the gender equality in Romania and I firmly believe that only if the private sector, civil society and the governments cooperate and benefit of the synergies of our various efforts, we can close the gender gap. In the future I hope to see many more companies falling into your footsteps of this initiative,” said Sweden’s Ambassador.
In his turn, Stefan Vanoverbeke, CEO IKEA SEE, stated that business leaders have the responsibility of enabling an equal gender working environment in their companies. He explained this is the reason why IKEA has encouraged the launch of this Call for Action at CEOs level, as the retailer would like this initiative to become a wheel of change. „We want to inspire other companies to take active actions to encourage an inclusion culture in their work. We want to learn one from another how to create a equal gender working environment, as it is better for entrepreneurs, for employees and for the society as a whole,” Stefan Vanoverbeke said.
The ambassador of the Diversity Charter Romania, Eugen Crai pointed out that the call for action on gender equality among CEOs, as well as the working group for gender equality launched today are strategically focusing on a set of priorities where Romania needs „substantial improvement”.
„In our European family, Romania ranks 25th out of 28 EU Member States in the EU Gender Equality Index (with a score of 52.4 points in 2015, and with Sweden ranking first, with 82.6 points). The four priorities around the Call for Action at CEOs level aim three fields where Romania scored very poor: <power>, <time> and <money>. We don’t offer flowers to women in Romania. Instead, we offer a structure that will work on gender equality all year round”, said Crai.
A research conducted by IKEA Romania in partnership with Ipsos at the end of 2018 shows that more than 40% of the men in Romania are aware of their privileged status at work compared to women. The study also revealed that 46% of the Romanian women had been personally exposed or knew someone who had faced gender discrimination at work.
Among the most important challenges women are encountering at work are losing their jobs after returning from maternal leave (50%), underestimation of their work due to prejudices related to the low value of the women’s work (45%), sexual harassment (45%), the employer’s inflexibility to tolerate days off due to children’s getting sick (40%) and low opportunities of promotion at work (35%).
The study also confirms that companies are expected to significantly contribute to the enforcement of gender equality at work.