Larissa Best, pictured, is a professor, social impact investor and president of the Luxembourg Business Angel Network’s board
Photo: Mike Zenari/archives
Director of Equilibre, the Luxembourg think tank for gender balance in the workplace, Larissa Best says we should be striving to get more women on panels to ensure more female role models.
When we keep asking ourselves why we can’t find more women in senior management positions or in politics in Luxembourg and around the world, the narrative usually includes choices that women make, risk averseness, different priorities in life and many more. But, what if a major factor affecting women in leadership positions is simply the lack of visible role models. Ask yourself this: When you think of great inventors, business leaders or political leaders, how quickly will the first name that pops up in your head be a man’s name?
With 22.8% of worldwide national parliamentarians being women, according to the UN Women, we still have some way to go but there is no lack of women. Luxembourg actually ranks higher than that average with 28.3% according to the WEF Gender Parity Study of 2017. However, if Luxembourg is overtaken by Rwanda, Africa, with 68,3% women parliamentarians, we have some room for improvement.
Talking to the other 19 nations that are currently on my study trip in the US on women’s economic empowerment, you realise quickly that Luxembourg is a fantastic country with many benefits for women, most of which we all take for granted. Yes, Russia actually has International Women’s Day as a national holiday, but many countries still have no parental leave and barely any maternity leave to talk about. The gender pay gap is enormous for most other countries and women are still treated as second class citizens in many countries.
With all this reality hitting me full frontal, it made my mission even clearer. If we, as a small country, can achieve so much in so little time, we have the opportunity to become the thought leaders when it comes to female economic empowerment and an inclusive society overall, to shine the light for other countries, nations and societies which need and want to walk on the same path.
Luxembourg has always had a first seat at the table when it comes to thought leadership and making a change. Think of women’s voting rights in 1919 and our important role in conceiving the European Union. We have always been inclusive, which we can feel and see in the lack of extreme rhetoric. We have opened our doors for immigration multiple times in the past and are still open to talent to come to our country. So, I am positive and excited for the future because I know that Luxembourg has the potential to really make a difference and become the best practice for inclusion and gender diversity at all levels for years to come.
So, let’s get more women on panels. And when we have achieved that, let’s talk about diversity on panels. Different views always make for exciting conversations. When we create more women as role models in our society, the next generations will take it as a given, just as we do with all the rights and freedoms we have achieved so far. We are at the home stretch, let’s keep the momentum going.
Now, let’s get to work to make it happen.
Larissa Best is a professor, social impact investor and president of the Luxembourg Business Angel Network’s board. Until 21 March, Equilibre is inviting individuals to support its #NoWomenNoPanel pledge, to actively encourage diversity on panels.