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On 21 March 2013, the Business Forum – the 2013 highlight of Equality Pays Off – enabled 165 representatives of companies, multiplier organisations and institutions from 31 European countries to trade knowledge and strategies on how best to access current and future female talent.
After a multimedia presentation on how the labour market is changing and a keynote address from Françoise le Bail, the European Commission’s Director General for Justice, small discussion groups and workshops saw intensive exchanges between CEOs, HR directors and diversity managers. They focused on finding better ways to attract and promote female talent and ensuring that measures to implement equal pay for equal work are embedded in corporate structures. In his keynote Thomas Sattelberger, former Member of the Management Board of Deutsche Telekom AG and Continental AG, urged the participants to see gender equality and equal pay as a corporate responsibility.
First-mover companies in the field of gender equality presented their experiences in applying good practices . To facilitate interaction, the Business Forum used an extra iPad-App enabling participants to send messages and questions and to discuss key findings on the twitter wall. One key conclusion was that gender equality is not just a fundamental right, but also a pre-condition for future economic success. Many participants saw a need for further European level events like the Business Forum. During these events, companies could discuss the challenges and difficulties they face in their company and inside their national context to ensure full support from management and the backing of both male and female staff for measures to implement gender equality.
The shift of Europe’s economy towards more complex technologies and more service-oriented industries increases the need for highly skilled workers. The future business success of European companies will be determined by their ability to manage two major challenges: demographic change and imminent skill shortages. At the same time, statistics show that the labour force of women in the EU is not being used to its full potential and in some cases gender equality is still far from a reality. This is where Equality Pays Off, an initiative by the Directorate-General for Justice, begins: its comprehensive approach aims at supporting companies in tackling this labour market challenge by promoting equality between men and women and hereby reducing the gender pay gap. Through its unique approach Equality Pays Off assists companies in tapping the existing and future female talent pool in a better way.