Czech Public Sector has decreased female representation in management to second lowest EU level

A current study of companies owned or operated by the Czech State reveals lower numbers of women in top management and on boards compared to the country’s average. Even worse, the researcher from the Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences found a negative trend over the past trend years in the Public Sector in the Czech Republic. In this respect, the country now holds the second lowest position in the EU while a positive trend is reported for the private sector, especially for companies located in Prague.

The first detailed analysis of the representation of women in the leadership of strategic companies in the Czech Republic, among others, showed that the proportion of women on the supervisory boards of companies listed on the stock exchange is the second lowest within the EU and that women are highly underrepresented in those companies. While in European Union member states the share of women in those positions reaches nineteen percent on average, Czech companies only rate seven percent. The only EU country with a lower percentage is Malta.

The analysis was conducted by the NGO ‘Business for Society’ and the Open Society at the Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences as part of the long-term project ‘Diversity 2013+ – Getting women on board’ (more information on www.diverzita.cz). The chairwoman of the platform Business for Society, Pavlina Kalousová, was not surprised by the results: “We had clear indications from the market that in private businesses naturally the situation improves. For example, the signatory companies of the European Charter for Diversity demonstrate that they have learned to work with diversity and start to understand that women in leadership are economically worthwhile. So, while in the private sector we can clearly see an upward trend in the last 10 years, the situation in state enterprises and companies with majority state ownership, as well as in companies quoted on the stock exchange has not only not improved, but has rather got worse.”

The study used data valid for 31.12.2013, which show that of the 33 surveyed State-Owned Enterprises only four had Supervisory Boards led by woman. The largest female representation on the Supervisory Board was found for a Research and Development Institute that has a female representation of 100% because its three-member board is made up of three women. Detailed results of the analysis have been published in a special annex in the Hospodářské noviny, a daily newspaper in Prague with economic focus.

For companies on the stock exchange, the authors of the study focused on the distribution of power in those companies, which should be affected by the European Commission Directive on statutory minimum of 40 percent representation of women in administrative and supervisory boards. “Six of the thirteen companies listed on the PSE do not have a woman on the board or supervisory board; only three of them have a woman on the supervisory board,” comments Petr Jansky from the Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences.

“Most debates about diversity are conducted only in terms of quotas and talking about them, especially in relation to private companies. Our analysis shows that in the private sector, the state should rather use positive trends and above all support companies that are already working well on the representation of women,” concludes Pavlina Kalousová.

A number of previous studies in different context had already shown that the Public Sector, especially public administration, is not role modelling the high standards it proclaims and even regulates for the private sector. Research in Germany showed that also progress was slower in the upper ranks of key Federal administration bodies compared with the same slate of leading private sector employers. “This gap does not come as a surprise. For companies have started to focus on changing their male dominated corporate culture while the Public Sector continues to focus on formal aspects and processes”, comments Diversity expert, Michael Stuber, who is working in both areas. He also observes that in the public and political sphere, the discussion still contains many gender stereotypes when it comes to family issues or work/life balance. “This continues to undermine the valuable work to overcome unconscious bias – and also subconscious or even conscious”, he criticises.