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From gender inequality to 50/50!


As of January 2022, the new binding female quota came into force, requiring at least one-third of the supervisory boards of many financial institutions, among others, to be made up of women. Thus, it is pleasantly surprising that a new cabinet is made up of 50% men and 50% women! Time to adjust the norm, or even better, to stop approaching it from a disadvantaged point of view.

Fortunately, it is being discussed more often. In boardrooms. Sincerely and surely with the best of intentions. Yet, it is still a cultural and societal problem, and we have been highlighting the disadvantage is gender differences for years. Certainly more attention has been paid to it in the last couple years, and we are slowly progressing. So, the time has come to implement 50/50, the ambition WIFS advocates in all layers of organisations, institutions and across all sectors. We will not settle for this quota, but 50 per cent overall. There should be hard policy on the matter with demonstrable results. To prevent this great potential being missed and young generations ignoring sectors. With countless studies and piles of scientific evidence, the argument that there is a lack of candidates is now no longer a serious argument.

However, what is a serious impeding factor is the still existing differences in financial reward in equal jobs. Career barriers at equal-and even better-qualification. A strategy in which masculine forces such as winning, assertiveness and verbal dominance are the norm. Both in external positioning and internal relationships. This must change. Female leadership generates better dynamics within teams and consequently better decisions. In reorganisations, masculine strengths are mainly focused on maintaining self-positioning and self-interest. The feminine strengths are aimed at customers and employees. In countless places where members of WIFS work, this experience is identical; with masculine, ego is often central. With feminine, solidarity. So, it is about balancing these values, not the differences between gender. Women too can go overboard in harnessing their testosterone. Both men and women are increasingly speaking out in favour of a better balance. Yet we need policymakers to set criteria for this. Why?

At the same time, repeating past mistakes, with all their consequences, has proved to be no exception. The consequences of the financial crisis was felt by all and for many it still has a major impact on their lives and future. The current crisis places the responsibility for the solution on the next generation. Crisis management is often short-term and thus linked to masculine values, however, this slows down a sustainable recovery of trust. It is necessary to draw lessons from this for the future. There is an opportunity to build a more balanced and sustainable future with gender equality. This is certainly true for the service-oriented financial sector, especially with a brand-new female finance minister. It is possible!

The challenge we face in society is enormous. Restoring (public) trust. More diversity. Long-term sustainability. People-centred service provision. This requires a fundamentally different balance between shareholders' interests on the one hand and customers, society and employees on the other. The chances of success and the pace at which this proceeds will be much better when the right balance between masculine and feminine forces is finally realised through specific, directing policy. Whether this is within our parliament, business or specific sectors. This is not a gender battle or a feminist agenda; it is self-interest for the survival of a sustainably healthy Netherlands.

So, let 2022 be the year when 'chatter' is finally turned into action on all fronts on the road to 50/50!

WIFS was founded a decade ago just after the financial crisis. The prevailing masculine culture proved to be a major driver of high financial risks. Short-term focus, too much personal ego and a lack of empathy for customers, employees, social relations and sustainability. The balance is off and we need more female power at the top. Everyone agrees and all studies show that a better gender balance gives better long-term results. WIFS does not settle for one-third but goes for 50/50.