Debriefing workshop, Brussels

We’re not done yet: after AGMs’ visits EWSDGE strategizes next steps of the gender balanced leadership campaign

  • Debriefing workshop 3th of July 2015 | From left to right: Myriam van Varenbergh, National Coordinator BENELUX, Prof. Jackie Jones, National Coordinator UK & Ireland, Dr. Katalin Prandler, National Coordinator Hungary, Fatima Ribeiro,Policy Officer – Directorate General for Justice and Consumers, Birgit Kersten, National Coordinator Germany, Margarete Hofmann, Vice President of the German Women Lawyers Association (djb), Sabine Overkämping, EWSDGE Research Director, Sylvia Cleff Le Divellec, National Coordinator France, Julie Hosteing,note taker France, Nathalie Leroy, National Coordinator France and Kamelia Angelova, National Coordinator Bulgaria.

(06.08.2015) On July 3rd, 2015, the National Coordinators of the project „European Women Shareholders Demand Gender Equality“ (EWSDGE) got together in Brussels to round up the visits of annual general meetings (AGMs). Within the EWSDGE gender-balanced leadership campaign over 75 listed companies in 11 EU Member States had to answer questions on the absence or underrepresentation of women on Supervisory and/or Managing Boards and in other leadership positions. Since most AGMs have now taken place, the meeting provided the opportunity for a lively exchange of experiences.

The EWSDGE National Coordinators presented their interim reports and discussed the findings with each other. The experiences had been mixed. The reactions of both Executive and Supervisory boards, as well as the ones of the shareholders on the issue of women representation in management were diverse. Stereotype responses were striking in countries like Hungary or Bulgaria. The EWSDGE-speakers and the note-takers however, were mostly warmly greeted. It had been an advantage to be able to point out the support by the European Commission. Moreover, the legal professional background of the EWSDGE-speakers ensured that the visited companies showed a businesslike demeanor.

The European Commission was represented at the workshop by Fatima Ribeiro, Policy Officer in charge at the Directorate General for Justice and Consumers.

At the beginning of the project, only a few EWSDGE National Coordinators had previous experiences with AGM visits and posing questions to the boards. Now, all parties involved identify completely with the EWSDGE project. Where at the beginning everybody wanted to know how to implement the project, now the question is how to go on. Concretely, how will we organize the visits of the AGMs in 2016 and further on. This enthusiasm of all participating women lawyers from the different EU Member States can already be accounted for as a big success.

Also during the workshop, the next steps necessary were discussed. In the fall of 2015 the project team and the National Coordinators will focus on working on an analysis and a documentation. The final conference in Brussels will take place on February, 11-12th, 2016 at the Representation of the State of Saxony-Anhalt to the European Union.