Female shareholders, a blind spot for economic power

As in politics, women began to find their place in the economy and its instances of power. Different initiatives have focused on promoting gender parity on boards of directors (Boards of Directors). While the proportion of women is growing there, the inequalities remain wide.

“In Switzerland, according to the latest figures, there are 16.9% of women on boards of directors and 23.9% in a decision-making role”, indicates Dominique Faesch, president of the Swiss Circle of Directors (CSDA). While in Europe, around a third of board seats are held by women.

Since June, a reform of the law of public limited companies has set the share of women in CAs at 30% and at 20% for management. If these thresholds are not respected, the company must explain it and indicate the measures taken to remedy it. “It’s very light as an incentive, but it is an incentive despite everything,” Judge Dominique Faesch.

Beyond regulation, the issue of parity in companies can also come from shareholders. In 2015, l’association European Women Shareholders Demand Gender Equality (EWSDGE), born from a German initiative, led a campaign on the subject at European Union level. For two years, the members of EWSDGE used a minority stake to speak in 125 general assemblies to challenge companies on the issue.

The role of female shareholders

On the other hand, it is more difficult to know the proportion of women within these general assemblies where the voting rights of business owners are exercised. Between institutional shareholders and the fragmentation of individual shareholders, it is complicated to draw up a statistical picture, but investment in companies is still considered a male domain. Various initiatives are now being put in place to encourage women to invest, based on the observation that this is an essential element of financial independence.

The Zurich-based start-up investment platform Go Beyond has around 40% women in its ranks. “We imagined the platform and the approach to attract women by giving them the possibility to learn at the same time as they invest, by proposing investments with a positive impact on the environment and society and by giving flexibility to allow them to adapt their investment to the time and money at their disposal, ”explains its co-founder Brigitte Baumann, who also created Efino, a platform intended to support the learning of entrepreneurs and business angels in the field of young shoots.

The impression of lacking knowledge in a world considered to be very technical remains one of the main obstacles to female shareholders. But to invest, it is also necessary to have starting capital, and on this point the economic inequalities between women and men are also a key blocking point.

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