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Helga-Stödter Prize for women leaders presented

Two firms win award for their efforts towards gender equality in management - a year after launch of women's quota

The Hamburg-Holstein transport company (VHH) has won the Helga-Stödter Prize for Mixed Leadership in the “large company” category while the Hamburger Feuerkasse won the award in the “small and medium-sized enterprise” class. The award by the Chamber of Commerce Hamburg and the Helga-Stödter Foundation honoured Hamburg-based companies, who have gone to exemplary and prolonged efforts towards greater gender equality in executive positions.

Emphasis on flexibility

The VHH raised the share of female managers, among others, from zero in 2009 to 67 per cent in 2015. Apart from that, the company has diverse measures for promoting qualified women, according to the jury. Personnel acquisition targeted women in particular and provides further education and coaching offers. These measures are in addition to job sharing, part-time executive positions, part-time training and flexible work hours as well as the possibility of working at home.

Women’s network

The jury praised the Feuerkasse’s consistent concept and the overall, strategic approach towards “proactive promotion of women in management”, founding a women’s network as well as a mentoring programme for female department heads and staff. The Feuerkasse had given the Provinzial NordWest Holding many incentives on concrete ways of implementing “mixed leadership”.

During his address to 250 guests at the awards ceremony in the Albert-Schäfer hall, Fritz Horst Melsheimer, Hamburg Chamber of Commerce President, drew an interim balance a year after the introduction of the women’s quota. He criticised the fact that the “desired breakthrough has not been achieved so far”. This applies mainly to positions on the board of directors and echelons of senior management rather than supervisory board mandates. “A great share of group and company management in large German firms does not identify with the quota and meets only minimized statutory requirements,” Melsheimer complained.

Further measures needed

One way of alleviating the situation would be a “career system”, he added. This means: “Job sharing at executive level, part-time leadership positions, home office, a mandatory requirement to shortlist women applicants and mentoring programmes – this combination would be a step in the right direction.” And childcare infrastructure has to be suitable – both in day-care centres and in companies.

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