Isabel Vaz Defends Gender Diversity in Entrepreneurial Leadership

“It is a duty of top management to guarantee the development of a culture of meritocracy and equality of opportunity from the outset to all collaborators, respecting individuality and through the implementation of clear incentives in the field, for it to become a reality.”

Isabel Vaz, Luz Saúde CEO, synthetises this way her position regarding the promotion of gender equality in entrepreneurial leadership, adding: “Gender diversity in leadership at all levels of an organization provenly translates into better results and higher value for businesses.”

The topic was debated in the conference Leading Together, which took place at the end of February in Lisbon and was promoted by INSEAD’s Association of Former Students, in partnership with McKinsey & Company, where Isabel Vaz was a guest, alongside Ana Marques, NOS executive director, Sofia Tenreiro, Cisco Portugal general manager, and António Mexia, Grupo EDP CEO.

In this conference, a pretext for the presentation of a study tracing the portrait of the country in this regard, questions related with the need for corporate policies of gender equality were discussed, as well as the entrepreneurial practices in Portugal and the necessity of change towards gender parity. It was also approached the experience of some of the managers present, both concerning their own career, and the results of incentives created by them in that sense inside their businesses.

In this regard, Isabel Vaz explained that this equilibrium will only be possible if there is real parity between men and women “at all levels” of the entrepreneurial structure, respecting individual expectations and creating conditions for its materialization. 

The study conducted by the consulting company McKinsey reveals, among other aspects, that women represent only 13% of companies executive boards and 12% of executive commissions in Portugal, although it is proven that businesses with more female presence in their leaderships show better performance.

The same study states that countries with higher percentage of female leadership reach those indicators by different ways – entrepreneurial practices oriented for that purpose, legislative initiatives such as quotas imposition or incentive policies –, thence not existing a unique recipe for success in this matter.

Lastly, the study indicates that Portuguese companies start to gain awareness of this situation, taking initiatives towards the promotion of this gender equilibrium.

The conclusion, however, is that there is still much to do, in Portugal, in this respect.

Luz Saúde: women in 40% of leadership positions

On International Women’s Day, celebrated today, 40% of intermediate leadership positions at Grupo Luz Saúde are occupied by women, showing a rate quite higher than the national average. And this is one of the few companies on the stock market with a female CEO.

Portugal’s entrepreneurial portrait is rather different: women are the majority concluding university (58%) and entering companies, but the numbers are reversed in favour of men as one goes up the hierarchy: only 8% are in executive commissions and 6% reach presidency.

Gender diversity generates numerous benefits for organizations, including higher levels of creativity and innovation, higher client satisfaction, better investment decisions and better performance.