EY ROMANIA

  |  20.05.2013

Opening doors for women working in government

Who leads the public sector is important. Its leaders make decisions that affect millions of people every day. Public sector leaders — politicians, civil servants and board members — are responsible for the general welfare of their citizens and give protection to the most vulnerable members of society.

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Setting the scene

Who leads the public sector is important. Its leaders make decisions that affect millions of people every day. Public sector leaders — politicians, civil servants and board members — are responsible for the general welfare of their citizens and give protection to the most vulnerable members of society.

 

On a local level, elected and paid officials oversee public services that benefit everyone, from local schools, transportation systems and leisure facilities, to the day-to-day business of living, dealing with the nitty-gritty of garbage collection, recycling and parking permits. And, importantly, public sector leaders in the 21st century are dealing with complex, long-term, systemic issues such as the economy, urbanization, globalization, aging populations, health care and climate change. Many of these issues demand new solutions to leave countries and their citizens better placed for the future.

 

From a business perspective, too, the issue of diversity is of fundamental performance. As countries around the world jostle  for position in a world that is both competitive and shrinking, economic growth requires the efficient allocation of resources. But with half of the world’s population prevented from making a full contribution, economic opportunities around the world continue to be restricted.

 

Diversity of thought, experience and perspective is needed to respond to these challenges. Unfortunately, women’s access to the board room remains alarmingly limited, even in developed markets. And in government, women hold just 20% of cabinet positions around the world and are twice as likely to hold a social portfolio as an economic one, according to our research. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former US Secretary of State, alluded to these challenges at the launch of the Equal Futures Partnership in September 2012.

 

“We know that when women participate fully in their governments and economies, they and their families benefit, but so do their communities, their countries, and even the world as a whole,” she told her audience. “In democracies, all people — women and men — have an equal voice and an equal vote and an equal chance to run for office and to serve their fellow citizens. In thriving economies,  all people have an equal opportunity to start a business, own property, earn a fair wage, and support their families. And in stable and peaceful societies, all people’s human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected equally.”

 

Her comments have been echoed by Ruth Shaw, winner of the 2012 Public Service Award at the UK First Women Awards. “There is clearly a business case for equality,” she said. “Organizations can only succeed and grow if the best talent is not only employed, but supported and developed. As long as 51% of the population is not represented at senior levels then we are missing out. And of course it is morally and socially right to have gender equality. It is fair.”

 

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