ESG and gender equality for sustainable growth

Equal opportunities could potentially contribute an estimated €3.15 trillion to European GDP by 2050

To better understand the importance of gender equality from the perspective of ESG factors, it is sufficient to take a look at the estimates prepared by the European Institute for Gender Equality (Eige): if women had the same professional opportunities as men, European GDP could grow to €3.15 trillion by 2050. Therefore, that of equal opportunities appears to be one of the priorities to be achieved in the short term. Not only at the level of managerial positions, an area in which women are still few, but starting with guaranteeing the possibility of access to training, as well as professional qualifications.

Urgencies also underlined by European entrepreneurs from 24 countries interviewed for the Eurochambers Women Network Survey 2023. The survey analyzed the current state of female entrepreneurship in Europe with particular reference to companies led by women, with the aim of developing targeted initiatives in support of female entrepreneurs across the continent. The survey gathered over 800 responses that highlighted the resilience of female entrepreneurs in facing difficulties, their ability to welcome changes and to launch challenges with timeliness and foresight, as demonstrated by the data collected on the digital and green transition of women-led companies. At the same time, it emerged that women entrepreneurs need greater attention from public institutions as well as the introduction of targeted support measures.

In particular, the responses of the women questioned revealed that the main obstacles they are facing concern: bureaucracy and the related issue of access to finance in which still too often they do not have equal opportunities compared to colleagues; the possibility of a career and equal pay, which would require the promotion of role models in sectors dominated by men, attention to education, concrete possibilities of access to managerial positions.

The theme of gender equality from the perspective of ESG factors was also addressed in a round table organized by Eurochambers Women Network in collaboration with Unioncamere at the headquarters of Si.Camera, the Agency of the Italian Chambers of Commerce. Important ideas emerged from the meeting with particular reference to the implications of the directive on gender equality in company boards approved by the European Parliament at the end of 2022, which establishes that by July 2026 large EU companies listed on the stock exchange will have to adopt appropriate measures to ensure a greater presence of women on boards of directors. This is an important directive in the direction of gender equality, considering that in 2021 only slightly more than 30% of the board members of large listed companies were women.

The numbers show that a greater presence of women in top management has a positive impact: when the women’s share in the boards is between 30% and 40%, companies have a greater chance of obtaining better financial results, higher yields and better ESG performance. On the other hand, the theme of gender equality is fully part of the social dimension of a company and therefore one of the fundamental factors for assessing the social credit of a company and achieving sustainable business levels.