Switzerland is one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. It ranks third in the OECD in terms of GDP per capita. It is consistently ranked among the best countries in terms of quality of life. Yet, the role of women in business management is an area where Switzerland needs to improve its standing.
Women have joined the Swiss workforce in large numbers over the past few decades. Their educational attainment has risen substantially to the point where more women than men now attend universities.
Swiss women are playing a key role in their country’s development journey. Women leaders and entrepreneurs in Switzerland are working hard to serve their nation by growing their businesses. Gender diversity on Swiss boards has increased by 55% in the last decade. Additionally, Switzerland climbed back into the top ten countries in the 2021 Global Gender Gap Report, with the narrowest gender gap score in its history.
Even after such progress, there are still areas where women are not given equal opportunities. In this blog, we will look at the role of women in the Swiss economy, the challenges they are facing, and how increasing their role in management can help Switzerland close the performance gap with other developed countries.
Switzerland is has a highly educated female workforce. According to Federal Statistical Office (FSO), women in Switzerland have made significant progress in the field of higher education, particularly in the last two decades. In 1999, only 9.8% of women aged 25–34 and 14.4% of men aged 25–34 had a higher education diploma. In 2019, the proportion of young women with a higher education diploma rose to 42.3%, compared to around 34.7% for men.
FSO also states that Swiss citizens’ choices of study and profession are becoming less gender-related than before. More and more women are studying subjects that were traditionally male dominated, such as science, mathematics, statistics, engineering, and construction. This has tangible positive impacts on Swiss business culture.
2. Wage gap
Switzerland is a country where gender wage inequality is still significant. A recent UNHRC report states that there is around an 8.1% wage disparity between men and women on average. The difference is largely observed in the higher-earning tiers of the workforce, where women earn 16.8% less than men for doing the same job. The difference in lower-level segments is around 9.3%.
Women have risen to management positions across the economy. This also narrows the overall gender wage gap in Switzerland. According to the FSO, wage disparities were 12% in 2016, but have since fallen to 11.5% in 2018 and 10.8% in 2020, and now it is around 8.1%. The process of closing the wage inequality gap is slow but steady. It can be and should be accelerated.
3. Leadership positions
Despite documented progress in education and in fixing the gender wage gap, women continue to be underrepresented as entrepreneurs and in leadership positions in Switzerland. According to a Credit Suisse’s gender diversity report, the share of female directors on Swiss corporate boards is only 13.4%. Women account for only 6.7% of Swiss executive teams, compared to a global average of 13.8% and a European average of 12.6%.
It is evident that Switzerland lags significantly when it comes to integrating female talent into senior corporate positions compared to both the global context and its European neighbours.
Let’s look at some of the challenges that women face, the advantages they have as well as opportunities that may lead to new success.
1. Women bring diversity to the workforce.
Men and women will inevitably have different backgrounds and experiences, which will shape their approach to business. The advantages of workplace diversity are enormous. It boosts workplace productivity, company culture, and employee retention.
2. Women leaders come with exceptional soft skills required for business leadership.
Women always bring something unique to the table. They lead in a variety of ways, with their own set of management and interpersonal skills. Women are said to have a number of advantages in soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, motivation, tenacity, and the ability to multitask.
A study conducted in 2016 with 55,000 participants from 90 countries discovered that women outperformed men in 11 of 12 emotional competence skills. It is evident that women excel at qualities such as communication, empathy, and self-awareness. Women leaders can transform the management style and effectiveness of an organization.
1. Inclusive government policies
In 2019, the Swiss parliament approved a government proposal calling for better representation of women at the top levels of large publicly traded companies. The new regulation, which is part of a revamp of Swiss corporate law, mandates that companies allocate at least 30% of positions on boards of directors and 20% of positions on executive boards to women over the next five and ten years, respectively.
This is a good first step. It shows hope for the future of gender equality in Switzerland. It will also provide numerous opportunities for women to pursue careers in management services.
2. Women as entrepreneurs and managers
Women have become more active in entrepreneurship in recent years. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the percentage of women entrepreneurs in Switzerland remains lower than that of their male counterparts. Only 7.2 percent of women were ready to participate in entrepreneurial activities in 2021, compared to 12.3% of men.
Today’s start-up culture allows women to be their own bosses and earn their own wages. It will also assist them in balancing their careers and families. Running their own businesses allows women to collaborate with and hire other ambitious, like-minded women, fostering a new generation of female leaders.
3. ESG: A chance for women’s empowerment
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) field is booming, and women are well-represented in ESG decision-making roles. Women currently lead ESG units at many big firms such as JInvesco, Bank of America, and Fidelity Investments. Reports suggest that women control 32% of the world’s wealth and add US $5 trillion to global wealth. By incorporating ESG strategies into gender-oriented wealth management, women can have substantial positive impacts through ESG investment.
If you are a woman entrepreneur, CEO, or impact investor, get in touch with us. We are happy to assist in you and your organization in your sustainability journey.