By Cristina Simón, Professor at IE Business School and MBA IE Brown Director.
Opinion column previously published in Spanish in the newspaper Expansión.
I found a pleasant surprise summer the article published by Ana Botín, president of Santander, analyzing its positioning on the current role of women and demonstrating feminist. And not because I did not know her side, which has already revealed as president of Banesto promoting diversity policies of gender and flexibility.
The interesting thing is the provocative of this position -besides using the feminist term, that has connotations and such disparate interpretations-
coming from a person of her influence in the business world. As it was expected, it has rained all kinds of replies and comments. I allow myself to ignore the ones that allude to their lack of conscience social -reclaim the role of women in society should be everyone’s business regardless of the segment social, cultural or economic-. There is no doubt that someone in the Botín position can contribute extremely valuable to this change, given that high levels business are one of the most macho contexts I know. And before that someone is offended, I want to make clear that I am talking about the context and not about the will of individual persons, that there will be everything like everywhere.
Actually, the structure of companies is so macho in itself that does not lack any special momentum of men to maintain it. The structure of work, the schedules, the styles of interaction and leadership … The most basic rules of the game, that is, the attitudes that are asked of an employee towards their work have emerged from societies with a very clear division among those who work and those that are dedicated to home and children.
Without a doubt, a very efficient system for a society what are we leaving back by leaps and bounds. And the only way to pace these changes in the company is that a critical mass of women be consolidated into levels of real decision, as directives and executives. A proportion of women enough to not feel that show as They can make you lose professional opportunities. As always, the areas of human resources can design policies that support these different attitudes, but without a leadership that makes them live in day to day will stay -As in so many companies- in statements of good intentions.
There are studies that demonstrate that the mothers of three or more children have competences of great value for the company: personal organization, negotiation or resilience, for example. Despise this potential for not leading by objectives or not assume a schedule flexible seems to me an error of book talent management. But I do not want to limit the speech to mothers. Although it is true that motherhood imposes a turning point in career (about everything in labor markets like the Spanish where is very difficult to make parentheses labor), the important is that the style of women is another one. Our scales of values are different. In last extreme, companies they progress because they respond to the demands of society where they are. Wherefore, it is nothing more and nothing less than a social imperative.