UNIDO’s panel session at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2019 focused on elevating women’s leadership in large businesses to foster economic growth

UNIDO’s panel session at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2019 focused on elevating women’s leadership in large businesses to foster economic growth

SAINT-PETERSBURG, 6 June 2019 – The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in cooperation with the Council of the Eurasian Women’s Forum established under the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, organized a panel session on ‘Women executives in building successful business models’ on the first day of the 2019 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

“Discussing the role of women executives is particularly relevant in the context of common aspiration to attain inclusive and sustainable industrial development at all levels”, said UNIDO Director General Li in his opening remarks. “Evidence suggests that gender diversity at the executive’s level is highly beneficial, while decreasing disparities leads to improved decision-making, higher performance and, as a result, to greater outputs and increased sustainability of companies.” Director General Li stressed the need to support women and girls in developing skills and knowledge needed to take full advantage of digitalization and the Fourth Industrial Revolution and thanked Russian counterparts for their long-standing and continuous support: “We are very pleased to have the Government of the Russian Federation accompanying us on this rewarding, yet challenging journey towards enhanced participation of women in inclusive and sustainable industrial development”, he concluded.

Deputy Chairperson of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Galina Karelova welcomed the participants and remarked that “we have developed efficient stable and friendly relationship with UNIDO in implementation of initiatives to promote women in economics, politics and the social sphere”. The Deputy Chairperson mentioned numerous successful projects implemented by the Council of the Eurasian Women’s Forum. “Today’s session highlights the increasing interest in potential measures that would support women’s economic empowerment globally’’ said Deputy Chairperson Karelova. 

Panelist Irina Gaida, Partner at Strategy&, part of the PwC network, highlighted that women as clients increasingly dominate consumer decision making, that investors seek not only profitability, but also greater socio-economic impacts, while labor markets are competitive only when they can attract and keep the most diverse talent pool. She further stated that “it is clear form recent studies, conducted globally and in Russia, that companies which had women in their executive boards scored significantly higher in terms of both capitalization and profitability”.

Managing Director for the Czech Republic and Slovakia at HP Inc. Erika Lindauerova underscored the importance of corporate cultures based on inclusion, diversity, tolerance and openness. “Diversity is important for businesses as more diverse companies perform better while young workforce is increasingly more attracted to businesses with open and inclusive cultures,” said Lindauerova.

Doris Lippert, Head of Digital Advisory Services at Microsoft Austria, noted that hiring processes should be inclusive towards qualified female candidates. She highlighted that personal success stories widely shared at various platforms are important to inspire new generations of female leaders and decision-makers.

UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador Veronika Peshkova stressed that women’s empowerment not only supports the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but also significantly boosts economic growth. “The full inclusion of women in economic activities would allow adding 28 trillion dollars to the global GDP – the equivalent of the combined economies of China and the US,” stated Peshkova. She called for establish an International Advisory Board for Industries in the field of women’s economic empowerment that would bring together long-standing UNIDO partners to provide advisory services and develop related policy proposals. “Capitalizing on this network of partners, we will upscale efforts to promote women’s economic empowerment”, said Peshkova.

Julia Solovieva, Director for Business Operations on EMEA Emerging Markets, Google Russia, highlighted that gender inequality can be addressed though “increased female self-esteem fostered by robust mentorship programmes, investments in education and open dialogue on the importance of eradicating gender stereotypes.”

Anastasia Kalinina, Head of Regional Agenda - Eurasia, World Economic Forum, underscored profound gender gap in politics and decision-making around the world, as well as in certain industries, including ICT. “The principles we should all strive to adhere to eradicate gender gaps are: committed leadership, behavior models change and new values, supporting women’s leadership” stated Kalinina.

The panel also featured prominent discussants Ms. Renée Jones-Bos, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Russian Federation, Ms. Nadiya Cherkasova, Chairman, Committee for the Development of Women's Entrepreneurship "OPORA RUSSIA", Ms. Valeriya Seledkova, General Manager, GEFCO Russia, Ms. Olga Sorokina, Managing Partner, O2Consulting, Ms. Tatiana Terentieva, Head of Human Resources, State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom,  Ms. Anna-Maria Treneva, Head, Facebook, Instagram & Messenger in Russia and Ms. Evgenia Tyurikova, Head, Sberbank Private Banking.

Closing the panel session, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Gulnaz Kadyrova highlighted the importance of a constructive cooperation between UNIDO and the Russian Federation targeting women’s agenda; she invited UNIDO to further actively participate in global forum events jointly organized with Russian partners.

The panel session, moderated by Jacek Cukrowski, Chief of UNIDO’s Europe and Central Asia Division, aimed at exploring action-oriented approaches, best practices, and solutions on how to foster women’s leadership in industry, particularly in large companies, in order to boost inclusive and sustainable industrial development on the national, regional and global levels. It attracted more than 70 participants, representing federal and regional governmental bodies, large businesses and international organizations. A diverse panel of speakers reflected on models and practices applied to promote women’s leadership in large companies and the socio-economic benefits arising from a broader women’s participation in industry.

Find out more about SPIEF 2019 here.

Watch the livestream of the UNIDO session (in English and in Russian) here

More pictures from the event are available here.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Solomiya Omelyan

Programme Officer

Regional Division - Europe and Central Asia

United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)