Why is it important for more women to hold leadership positions?

Rio de Janeiro, March 8, 2024 – In March, we celebrate International Women’s Day, a date that symbolizes the historic female struggle for gender equality. Commonly, the entire month is dedicated to debates on relevant and current issues that need greater attention from society, such as domestic violence, femicide, and inequality in the labor market. In this context, it is important to reflect on the importance of the female presence in companies, as well as their participation in leadership positions.

Data from the Continuous National Household Sample Survey, from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, indicate that, in the fourth quarter of 2022, of the total male population, 72.1% participated in the labor market. Já do total da população feminina, apenas 52,7% estão inseridas no mercado de trabalho. This scenario highlights the inequality that exists between men and women in the Brazilian labor market.

In addition to the quantitative inequality in the labor market, the inequalities faced by female professionals are also noted, which include moral and sexual harassment, sexism rooted in small everyday attitudes, wage inequality, and double shifts. For this reason, promoting the inclusion of women in the different sectors of the market and gender equality in companies becomes imperative, in order to eliminate any discrimination, oppression and injustice against them and guarantee the same opportunities for both sides.

Organizations that value women’s work and encourage the growth of female employees have plural visions and drive innovation, in addition to building a more inclusive, welcoming, and inspiring environment for all. In this context, it is worth noting that gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to have above-average returns and 21% more likely to obtain above-average financial returns, as pointed out in a report conducted by McKinsey & Company.

Simply hiring women in large numbers, however, is not enough when the company has an all-male leadership staff. Gender equality must reach all corporate levels, especially board and management positions, so that women can have a voice and decision-making power to make a difference.

In this sense, a Financial Intelligence survey carried out with 218 companies listed on the Novo Mercado and Level 2 of B3, points out that only 12 listed institutions have women who chair the board of directors and only 5 are CEOs. A recent survey by B3, based on 343 listed companies, indicates that out of every 100 companies, 55 did not have women in statutory management positions; and in 36 out of every 100 there was no female participation among the board of directors.

Did you know that according to the Conference Board’s report The Ready-Now Leaders, companies with at least 30% of women in leadership positions are 12 times more likely to be among the top 20% in financial performance? A survey conducted by Leadership Circle based on the analysis of more than 84,000 leaders and 1.5 million evaluators shows that female leaders appear more effective than male colleagues at all levels of management and age groups.

Unfortunately, women don’t have an easy path to senior leadership. In fact, it is often difficult for them to imagine themselves in these positions. Most of the time, they are more challenged than men and need to bring more results in order to be eligible, always seeking to demonstrate legitimacy.

For this reason, when a woman reaches a leadership position, she has a firm and confident character to impose her authority, always seeking to deliver the best, without fear of reinventing herself. Because of this challenging journey, the leader cultivates patience, relational skills, and multitasking.

I believe that the more women in leadership positions, the more women will gain confidence and be inspired to put themselves in management positions. Particularly, during my professional career, I never thought about taking on the position of CFO. When the opportunity arose to take on this very important position, I was strongly encouraged by my mentor, who is my main reference in the corporate world.

Finally, it is essential that companies encourage women’s access at higher hierarchical levels, promoting an organizational culture more focused on inclusion and equity, bringing benefits not only to the business, but also to society.

Article written by Jessica Von Moegen is CFO of EDF Renewables Brazil.

About EDF Renewables:

EDF Renewables is a global energy company that develops, constructs, and operates renewable energy generation plants. A key player in the energy transition worldwide, EDF Renewables implements competitive, responsible projects within the EDF Group, generating value. In all the countries where it operates, our teams are committed daily to local stakeholders, combining their expertise and innovation capacity to combat climate change. By the end of 2023, EDF Renewables operated a net installed capacity of wind and solar projects equivalent to 12.8 GW worldwide. Primarily present in Europe and North America, EDF Renewables continues to grow and position itself in promising markets such as Brazil, China, India, South Africa, and the Middle East. Despite its strong involvement in onshore wind and photovoltaic solar, the company also operates in offshore and floating wind, as well as in new technologies such as energy storage, floating solar, and agrivoltaics. In Brazil since 2015, EDF Renewables Brazil is an important player in the renewable energy sector, totaling over 1.8 GW in viable solar and wind energy projects in Bahia, Minas Gerais, and Paraíba.