AXA and Bocconi: gender equality for a more equal society

All data produced by Bocconi’s AXA Research Lab on Gender Equality

Gender equality ed female empowerment to build a more equitable, inclusive and resilient society. This was discussed at Bocconi University, during a round table sponsored by the European Commission which also saw the participation of Minister Eugenia Roccella, as part of the event organized by AXA Research Lab on Gender Equality, in collaboration with AXA Italia and AXA Research Fund. As the Minister for the Family recalled, in her institutional greetings, gender equality is a lever for a society that is not only more equitable but also more dynamic and the Government’s actions fit into this sense, such as for example the recent launch of a deontological code for businesses focused on the protection of women and maternity or the provision on the reorganization of business incentives with the inclusion among the general principles, of enhancing the contribution of women to the economic and social growth of the nation.

“Gender equality is still one of the major challenges we have to face: today in the world 2.4 billion women do not have the same rights as men and this inequality is not only a question of injustice, but an obstacle to economic development. Suffice it to say that globally it costs over 16 trillion dollars and to win this battle a collective approach is needed, where universities have a key role”, highlighted Giacomo Gigantiello, CEO of the AXA Italia insurance group. Paola Profeta, Director of the AXA Research Lab on Gender Equality and Pro-Rector for Diversity, Inclusion and Sustainability at Bocconi University emphasized how much there is still to be done. “Despite the progress made so far, women are still penalized on the labor market. The obstacles are manifold – from the penalization of mothers to the burden of care divided asymmetrically between men and women, to the widespread social norms and stereotypes that still see women as protagonists of the family sphere and men of professional careers. All of this has a clear cost for the economy and society, in terms of lost talent and limited performance. Paternity leave, gender quotas, promotion of the presence of women in STEM disciplines, removal of stereotypes can help create a cultural context at work that favors gender equality and women’s empowerment”.

Insurance can play a central role, not only in terms of products and services, but also in terms of training, investments and the adoption of new policies. In this context, Maria Bianca Farina, President of ANIA and the ANIA Foundation, focusing her speech on the urgency of acting on the issue now, recalled how gender equality is a key issue for the insurance sector: for example, women represent approximately 50% of the workforce in companies, with an increasing number of female managers. Ania also collaborates with numerous Italian universities to train future women leaders.

The central moment of discussion and international debate was the round table moderated by Kirsty Leivers, Global Head of Culture Inclusion and Diversity of the AXA Group, which saw the participation of Paola Profeta, Director of the AXA Research Lab on Gender Equality and Pro-Rector for the Diversity, Inclusion and Sustainability of Bocconi University; Anne Boring, Director of the AXA-Sciences Po Women in Business Chair; Monika Queisser, Head of Social Policies at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Simone Innocenti, Chief HR, Organization & Culture Officer of AXA Italy.

Among the themes that emerged from the discussion and corroborated by the evidence offered by the studies produced by Bocconi’s AXA Research Lab on Gender Equality: the still insufficient diffusion of STEM disciplines among girls. On this issue, the Lab has found that the lower presence of women in scientific specializations is linked to various factors, such as for example too competitive environments and the use of multiple-choice mathematical tests, in which women tend to perform less; the need to intervene in an incisive way on the still too widespread sexism in male-led companies, an issue on which the OECD has already drafted a guide intended for all member countries to help them manage unequal power relations and structures and harmful norms; increasingly favoring inclusive policies in companies: from increasingly extended paternity leave, to mentoring and empowerment programs for an increasingly widespread and aware female leadership.

The meeting ended with a message from Antonio Parenti, Director of the European Commission Representation in Italy, who took stock of the road already taken at European level and the strategic commitments on the issue of gender equality.