Finnish businesswomen’s leadership can be a model for their Saudi counterparts. This was the message given when some top executives from Finland Chamber of Commerce (FCC) held a meeting in Riyadh earlier this week.
Finland has been promoting businesswomen as leaders on company boards through self-regulation. This was stressed during the interaction held between the businesswomen of the two countries at the meeting organized by the Embassy of Finland on Monday. They exchanged ideas on businesswomen’s development program.
Leena Linnainmaa, deputy chief executive at the FCC as well as in-charge of the award-winning businesswomen leaders program of the Finnish chamber, made a presentation on promoting women as business leaders.
"The idea is to see more women as business leaders on company boards through self-regulation without quotas," Linnainmaa told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
She added that more women are needed on the boards of companies as they need the best people as leaders and not just the best businessmen as wider talent pool benefits the companies.
Linnainmaa, who also chairs the European Corporate Governance Network www.ecgcn.org, said that FCC's businesswomen leadership program won last year the best corporate social responsibility (CSR) project at the World Chambers Federation competition in Italy.
About the objectives and structure of the program, she said: “This mentoring program consists of meetings between a mentor and a mentee, as well as seminars, networking events, and meeting with headhunters. We also evaluate the results of our program through surveys among participants and the results are excellent.”
She pointed that promoting women as business leaders benefits all around the world. Statistics show that women have not yet reached their full potential in the corporate leadership positions. Changing the status quo requires new attitudes among women, employers and the whole society."
Following the interactive program with Saudi businesswomen leaders here, Linnainmaa said she was very positive. “They are hardworking and ready to take up CSR activities at different levels as they are already serving well in various capacities.”
On joint cooperation in this field, Linnainmaa said: "As we held talks with the authorities here, we are expecting Saudi women to see in Finland how we mentor the women business leaders."
She informed that a decade ago, even in Finland, the ratio of businesswomen leaders was low and women were mostly working in lower paid sectors. Now the situation is altogether different, especially as the FCC launched the mentoring program on Women's Day in 2012.
Anne Horttanainen, FCC director, said women executives in Finland are seeking more business responsibility. Likewise, Saudi society too has to give space to women, thus promoting women business leaders to take up challenges and opportunities at various levels.
Horttanainen, who is responsible for the mentoring program for women executives, said there are many ways to promote women business leaders, including making a strategic and targeted decision to promote women leadership in the listed companies for suitable works, recognizing the talent potential among the employees and ensuring that women are considered in the talent management process, diversifying women skills, providing mentoring for women in their career path and bridging the confidence gap by creating space for women with due respect, safety and security.
She noted that continuous dialog with these programs help to register women’s sustainable development in many ways.
On the FCC's mentors program, Horttanainen added: “The mentors are very experienced top level business leaders, often directors and CEOs in listed companies, who help us promote women business leaders on regular basis with women taking up top positions.”