Last week I attended the breakfast session in B.Amsterdam, at the invitation of Sodexo and Topvrouwen.nl. In three alternating panels, top women and men, such as Sophie Bellon, Marry de Gaay Fortman and Sander Graft, talked about moving the needle on gender balance. The dynamic interviews showed that even in the Netherlands gender balance is not yet self-evident. Only 2% of CEOs are women. But not only the figures are important, it’s also about equality in everything.
Gender balance and equality are significantly better in countries where a women’s quota applies (such as Norway, Italy, Belgium and France). However, culture is also an important factor for success. Research shows that organisations with a balanced man-woman composition are often better balanced with a better overall performance. Not surprising, once you realise that a customer base is a reflection of society, which is also a balanced distribution of men and women.
The creation of gender balance is a responsibility for both sexes, and accordingly also a shared journey towards the right proportion within an organisation. And even if men and women do speak a slightly different language, together you should go looking for each other’s strength and find a good balance in your organization. This applies to both gender balance and diversity in general.
Ladies were given tips – also from the men in the audience – to be curious, to show themselves, to express ambitions and pursue their desired career path with a positive mindset.
At the end of the morning I realised that I am pretty proud of the gender balance in my immediate surroundings. In my opinion, the facility sector scores fairly high. For instance, in our executive community I see among the Facility Management & Real Estate Directors an increasingly balanced composition of men and women. And in our own organisation, Hospitality Group, women are well represented too. In fact, I would like to appeal to male top executives, because they can be represented even more strongly in our inflow.