Discours de Lydia Mutsch à l'occasion de la 8e édition de la conférence sur le Cross Mentoring

"Diversity is a capital gain for a company (...)"

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"Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to start by thanking Ms. Rita Knott for the invitation to this 8th conference of the international Cross-Mentoring.

As a minister for Equal Opportunities and a fervent believer in encouraging a strong female presence in leadership positions. 

Therefore, I support the cross-mentoring system, as it has proven a real success over the years.

This year’s topic "Leading in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times" resonates with the current world situation.

It is in times like this, where strong, specifically female leadership has to shine through ambiguity and volatility.

Leadership skill is an extraordinary talent that is not possessed by many and often characterized as not being a natural skill for women.

Even though times are changing and more female leaders are emerging, we know that women still have low representation in decision making positions.

According to recent statistics, only 23% of women in Luxembourg are members of a board of directors; 16% of chairpersons are women on a board of directors and only 10% are chair persons of an executive committee.

These numbers are not at all satisfying. I’m proud that I am part of a government that intends to achieve a better balance between women and men in the field of decision making positions.

The goal is actually to achieve a 40% representation of the underrepresented sex on boards of directors by 2019.

Furthermore, the government also intends to achieve a 40% representation on the boards of directors of private companies where the government is a considerable stakeholder.

We may still be somewhat away from achieving our target goal, but nevertheless we are heading in the right direction.

Sometimes we get the impression that we live in a world where everything seems to be getting more and more unpredictable, unstable and challenging.

Due to these reasons, realizing gender balanced leadership team often may not seem to be the main priority for many companies, arguing that they have to cope with other challenges.

But equality between women and men is fundamental and it is a matter of basic social justice.

It is imperative that we continue to focus on this topic, because besides being a fundamental human right, gender equality is also a benefit in a competitive capacity, the work climate and wellbeing.

It really is a pity that we still have to talk about gender gaps in work force, still highlighting the differences between women and men instead of collaboration, synergies and complementarity between the two in order to promote their enormous, untapped potential.

The aim of mentoring is indeed to support a woman or a man in developing their professional skills and their personal capacities to focus on a leadership position.

Diversity IS a capital gain for a company, because women and men, as I have said before, complete each other in both the way they think and in the way they perform their duties.

The major role of my ministry is to shape policy and legislation in favor of gender equality at all levels of decision making, both political and economic.

It is true that equal treatment between women and men at all levels of a company and in society are anchored by law.

However, the gender balance has not entirely been titled in favor of both sexes yet.

A fundamental role of the ministry is awareness raising. This is done by publishing studies and reports that contribute to policy making as well as regular campaigns and conferences that are organized to highlight a gender imbalance in one of our key areas.

One of the main measures undertaken by my ministry to achieve a better balance between women and men is the program of positive actions.

It is necessary to keep voluntary measures such as the positive actions as they can help women to develop their potential and to give them support in their career development.

I believe that through the framework of the Cross Mentoring Program, men and women can learn from each other.

We admit that we still move in a male dominated area, but as long as we push actions and programs like the Cross-Mentoring Program and the Positive Actions, we will succeed in breaking open many of the one-sided "male made" rules that currently run the business world.

This will allow us to reach a higher percentage of women in leading positions, allowing the mentees to benefit more easily from female positions and points of view.

One major opportunity for us should be the use of the Cross Mentoring tool to promote women’s careers, giving them the possibility to build up a network required for their professional advancement.

We will indeed continue to support these initiatives as long as we haven’t reached an acceptable balance between women and men in the decision-making process.

The Cross Mentoring Program has been part of our program of positive actions for many years and I want to remind you that it focuses on the three main topics:

1) Equal treatment between women and men
2) Equality between women and men in decision –making
3) Equality between women and men in reconciling working and private life

Unfortunately, traditional role models are still firmly cemented in our minds and our conducts and still have big impacts on the way women and men act in business life and in particular in decision-making.

Let me remind you again that many studies have proved that a higher percentage of women in companies impacts positively on their performances in terms of organization, innovation, responsibility and income.

That is why it is crucial to have talented and motivated women and men at every level and sector of a company.

Equal treatment between women and men does not result in one single act, but through many acts at all levels of the company.

I would therefore like to end my speech by saying that we all have to continue in our efforts and make most of the tools that we have at our disposal in order to promote equal opportunities for everyone.

The Cross Mentoring is an important step to achieve gender balanced economic decision making, which is an enhancement for our companies and for our society as a whole.Thank you for your attention."