Breaking Barriers: Women on Boards Adria Initiative to Drive Gender Diversity in Corporate Leadership

28/04/2023

Today is the second day of the Western Balkans ESG Summit, which is taking place in Porto Montenegro. One of the highlights of today’s Agenda was the launch of the Women on Boards Adria Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to increase the participation of women in corporate decision-making in the region. The initiative is a joint effort of Sustineri Partners and partners of the Summit who believe that gender diversity on boards leads to better decision-making and better business performance.

Statistics for the Adria region shows that women hold a small percentage of board positions. Women on Boards Adria Initiative seeks to change this by promoting gender diversity on boards and encouraging companies to appoint more women to their boards of directors. The initiative will provide training and support for women who aspire to serve on boards of directors, as well as for companies seeking to increase their gender diversity. It will also advocate for policies and practices that promote gender diversity on boards, such as the adoption of quotas or targets for the number of women on boards,” said Biljana Braithwaite, CEO of Sustineri Partners.

We believe that gender diversity is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do,” said one of the co-founders of Women on Boards Adria Initiative. “Research shows that companies with more diverse boards perform better and are more innovative. We want to help companies in the Adria region realize these benefits by increasing the number of women on their boards,” notes Braithwaite.

This is a truly joyous moment that raises high expectations. Women are underrepresented in boards and leadership positions around the world. Change does not come easy, which is why this initiative is so important. Together we can make a difference,” said Hedwige Nuyens, President of European Women on Boards.

Without active participation of women in decision-making, there can be no true prosperity or stability. The education, skills, and experiences that women possess differ from those of men, and it is precisely in the synergy of different perspectives that good results are achieved and a more favorable social climate is created. Many data indicate that in companies where employers have provided equal participation of women in the decision-making process, a better business environment has been created, which has also affected the growth of business. That is why I am now strongly supporting an inclusive discussion and initiative for women to be equally included in all business and academic panels, under the same conditions as men“, said Brankica Janković, Commissioner for the Protection of Equality of Serbia.

Focus on the shift to gender inclusive corporate culture is of vital importance for Western Balkans economies. We need to embrace ESG standards, not merely comply but lead in effort to attract investments and position the region on European and global markets. We highly value partner initiatives reinforcing our efforts on regional level such as Women on Boards Adria, and expect it will empower and additionally drive the positive change in the whole Adria region. Integrating female talent in economic leadership positions is vital for stronger, more inclusive and resilient economic growth. It requires a synchronized action and must be our common goal“, noted Irena Radović, Executive Director of the Investment and Development Fund of Montenegro.

At the official launch of the Women on Boards Adria, this Initiative has taken its first official step in ensuring women get their well deserved seat at the professional and academic tables, as it invited the participants of the Summit to take a pledge for Gender Diverse Panels for Inclusive Discussion. When considering traditionally male dominated business sectors or academic fields, not only do women enrich the debate by bringing unique insights, experiences, and expertise to the table, their inclusion is crucial for ensuring more effective and well-rounded findings and conclusions. In fact, excluding them from panels or discussions can result in a narrow and biassed representation of ideas and can perpetuate discrimination.

The launch of Women on Boards Adria Initiative marks an important step towards greater gender equality in the Adria region. By promoting gender diversity on boards, the initiative aims to create a more inclusive and prosperous business environment for all“, concluded Braithwaite.

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