Making the change: diversity in the Swiss workforce

By Hana Skreta, Principal, Zurich

Changing company culture and mindset is a real challenge and success comes from driving a new cultural approach both as a project but also as part of the day to day. Leaders, as individuals and as business people, must deliver a mindset of change from the top. Accepting and acting on change, starting to think differently, setting an example, fostering a culture of inclusion and understanding unconscious bias are all steps towards emotional change. Mentoring programmes and empowering people with trust to do their job differently and encouraging a different approach will help a business retain its very best talent. Marta Ra, co-founder of Women in Sustainable Finance (WISF) says “We empower women to have belief in their own convictions and to rise by supporting others on the same journey.hange is possible if we inspire and support women who aspire and pursue transforming the  the finance industry to be more sustainable and inclusive.”

The Schilling Report, 2021 states “The Swiss economy has experienced sustained positive development in terms of gender diversity and has undeniably entered the awareness phase in this generational project. This is manifested in the record highs in the share of women on executive and supervisory boards. The share of women in executive management has increased for the first time by 3 percentage points (+ 30%) from 10% to the all-time high of 13%. The number of female CEOs has also increased from 3 to 5 – and will grow to 8 in the current year. The public sector already employs 21% women in management. A consistently broader gender diversity pipeline in all sectors enables us to look to the future with confidence.” The World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report 2020 ranks Switzerland a healthy 18 in its Index of rankings out of the 153 countries on the list. There is a movement for change.

There are three considerations a company needs to take into account says Ra:

  • Top management buy-in and model behaviour: Male executives need to change their approach; take paternity leave, leave work early sometimes to collect their children and take more responsibility for family life
  • Transparency on the pay gap: More countries are introducing regulation on pay per gender transparency, and we would like to see the same approach in Switzerland
  • Even quotas in recruiting: Ensuring the recruiting pool is representative of the population demographics would create a gender positive environment

“The launch of WISF was surprisingly smooth. Since inception in 2018, WISF has been very well received and welcomed nationally in Switzerland but also internationally within the global finance community. With a large international network and more than 2500 followers from around the globe we are frequently requested  to speak at conferences or  panels, give topic related lectures and are regularly quoted opinion leaders within the industry. We hear from conferences having difficulties in finding female speakers, especially in finance; however there are really no excuses anymore. Our international audience and members who come from various industries has continuously grown which also shows how much women have been waiting for a platform like ours. We are making a substantial change through all our activities and will continue with all our efforts to support women not only within the finance industry, but also across industries.”


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