New measures by the European Central Bank aim to improve gender diversity
Thu 11 Jun 2020
American entrepreneur, Malcolm Forbes, once described
diversity as “the art of thinking independently together”. Today, diversity is beginning
as a quintessential workforce norm and institutions have started to acknowledge
the differences in their staff compositions that are deeply ingrained in the
fabric of their organisational culture. With many challenges remaining, the
independent think tank for central banking, OMFIF, has published its most recent report
sponsored by Mazars to embark upon the challenge of instilling diversity
measures in central banks. In particular, the report highlights
cultural, economic, social and psychological barriers which impede the economic
and professional empowerment of women.
Incorporating findings from a survey of 46 central banks and two multilateral organisations, the report shows that gender balance in central banks has seen improvements for a second consecutive year. However, the global score remains disappointing at 27.5, with a score of 100 representing perfect balance. So while central banks around the world are acknowledging the importance of fostering a more inclusive culture, only marginal improvements can be observed for women in senior positions. The challenge is, therefore, to empower women within decision-making roles to ensure an adequate level of representation.
Read more: Gender Balance Index 2020: Driving diversity
this challenge, on 14 May 2020, the European Central Bank (ECB or “the Bank”)
announced a series of new measures to improve gender-balance for its staff at all
levels. One of the ECB’s measures consists
of defining target percentages on the number of women appointed to new and open
positions. This measure also extends to targets on the overall proportion of
female staff. The ECB’s strategy covers the period up to 2026, which falls
within the mandate of President Christine Lagarde.
addition, the ECB has set new targets beyond managerial roles to include Lead
Expert, Expert and Analyst levels. The initiative aims to fill at least half of new and open positions with
women across all levels, increasing the existing proportion of women between
40% and 51 % on aggregate by 2026. These targets are also accompanied by a
range of other measures supporting gender diversity. The ECB announced that it
would report on the progress of its programme by publishing interim assessments
in 2022 and 2024.
initiative is not the first programme targeting gender diversity launched by the Bank. The
previous programme aimed to double the proportion of women in management
positions for the period 2013 to 2019. As a result of that programme, the ECB
exceeded one of its targets by achieving a figure of 30% of female senior
managers by the end of 2019. At the same
time, the proportion of women in all management positions rose from 17% to 30%,
which, while depicting a significant organisational change, was still below the
desired target of 35%.
programme introduced by the ECB not only aims to increase the percentage of women
in its workforce but also sends a strong signal to other central banks to
further improve their existing diversity and inclusion (D&I) measures. If
executed appropriately, the programme will allow the Bank to build a more
diverse boardroom which would prompt new ideas and experiences that help combat
complex corporate issues.
an organisation’s reputation is today assessed on multi-faceted levels. Be it
an organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme or a
diversity initiative, stakeholders are increasingly interested in the character
of a firm. A diverse workforce is seen is a strong indicator of the behaviours
and attitudes which persist within an organisation. Diversity acts as an emblem
of acceptance and the ECB’s programme adheres to this principle.
ever-evolving corporate norms, tangible efforts for diversity and inclusion are
now inevitable in today’s corporate arena. But broader legal initiatives should
be taken to end obsolete HR practices and the one-dimensional culture that we
still observe in too many organisations. Indeed, the OMFIF report acknowledges
that, while the progress on gender diversity made by central banks is heading in
the right direction, the pace of change is slow.
The ECB has currently designated a female governor, but the global reality is that one in five central banks has no women in senior positions. President of the ECB, Christine Lagarde, reminds us “(…) that gender is one of the many dimensions of diversity that we must all value as we should mirror the society we serve.” She also expressed that the ECB would want gender balance to be the norm now, rather than a revolution to fight later.
By Aamir Khan and Pauline Pélissier.
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