Events Ascame/ March 7, 2024/ Featured, Institutional

One of the voices that has contributed most to the empowerment of women in the economic and business sphere, especially in the industrial and technological sectors, is that of Blanca Sorigué, the first woman to assume the position of Director General of the Zona Franca Consortium of Barcelona. Her commitment to the fulfillment of the SDGs by the Consorci led her to found and form part of the Women’s Council of the Zona Franca Industrial Park of Barcelona, in addition to participating in the Board of Directors of the Women, Business and Economy Observatory (ODEE) of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce. In 2021, she promoted the Barcelona Woman Acceleration Week (BWAW), a debate forum in which ASCAME has participated and whose objective is to reflect on gender equality in all economic sectors, both locally and globally. In 2023, Sorigué was considered one of the 100 most influential women in Spain, according to ‘Forbes Women’. She has several awards in recognition of her contribution to gender equality, parity of rights and conciliation in the business sphere, including the ‘Equipara Award’ of the 2019 Company of the Year Awards or the ‘Silver Ingot’ of Logistics Award. In the following interview, Sorigué reflects on the main odds to overcome to move towards full equality, both in the Mediterranean and worldwide.

In your opinion, what are the main challenges facing the Mediterranean today in terms of gender equality, social inclusion and women’s empowerment? Are they the same challenges in both the northern and southern fringes?
The Mediterranean region has several challenges in terms of gender equality, social inclusion and women’s empowerment, which need to be reviewed and addressed according to each region’s casuistry, taking into account its socio-cultural, political and economic aspects. It is necessary to focus on gender inequalities and stereotypes, to promote access to education and economic resources, and also to boost women’s decision-making capacity in each of the regions. It is necessary to create a comprehensive and collaborative approach in the Mediterranean region among all key actors, public and private, to effectively promote and advance towards gender equality, as set out in the United Nations 2030 agenda.

What is the impact of inclusive businesses on the economic and sustainable development of a country and a region such as the Mediterranean?
Inclusive companies have a positive impact on the economic and sustainable development of a country and a region such as the Mediterranean. In fact, for example, according to the results of the Esade Gender Monitor (2023), 71% of the companies surveyed perceive that female CEOs are much more active in equality, inclusion and diversity. This shows that the role of women in companies is even more decisive and beneficial for the work environment and, therefore, in the economic results of the companies.

Female CEOs are much more active in equality, inclusion and diversity. This shows that the role of women in companies is even more decisive and beneficial for the work environment and, therefore, in the economic results of the companies

What are we talking about when we refer to the concept of “female leadership”? Is it only related to a greater presence of women in managerial positions or does it include more variables?
A greater presence of women in senior management positions will not only generate positive results in the company itself, but will also serve as a role model for other young women and men, boosting their participation in historically male-dominated areas. This change will require reinforcing public-private collaboration and the commitment of society as a whole to create equal opportunities and foster the identification of new generations with diverse roles in the workplace. It is essential to collaborate to promote female leadership at all levels, from senior management to other levels, to think about the importance of supporting female leadership from the educational sphere to the workplace, because this leadership must be an attitude that contributes to break down stereotypes.

Why is there so little female presence in STEM careers? How can we reverse this situation?
It should be taken into account that the STEM sector is gaining prominence as a key factor in the development of the economy and Industry 4.0, so boosting the presence of women in this area is essential. However, only 23% of the people working in the IT sector are women, as indicated in the 2021 study by the National Observatory of Telecommunications and the Information Society in collaboration with the National Institute of Women. In this sense, the Esade Gender Monitor 2023 report highlights the unconscious biases, the difficulty in balancing professional life with personal and family life and the lack of recognition in the tasks performed as the main obstacles. Moreover, these are sectors where historically there has been a majority of men, an important fact, since girls and young women do not have or do not conceive of women as references in these areas. Therefore, it is necessary to implement programs of diversity, equity and inclusion, to value the female figures that have triumphed and are triumphing in these fields, to act from schools, and to contribute from the public and private sector to promote interest in careers that have -and will have- a great demand.

To increase female presence in STEM careers we need to implement programs of diversity, equity and inclusion, in addition to female figures that triumphed in these fields, and contributing from the public and private sectors to promote interest in these careers

What equality policies that you have promoted from CZF can be transferred to other companies and institutions in the Mediterranean?
At CZFB we are committed to the 2030 Agenda throughout the year, not only on International Women’s Day, March 8, or on other dates. Therefore, contributing to SDG 5, focused on equality, is a priority for us. With this strategic axis of our institution in mind, in 2020 we created the ZF Women’s Council, a consultation and coordination body for the different equality policies that are carried out in our productive area. This body, the first of its kind to be created in the industrial area, aims to promote gender equality and equal rights. At the moment, it represents 23 companies installed in the Free Trade Zone and our idea is that it will continue to grow. On the other hand, we also promote the Feel the ZF Power initiative, through which we take girls and teenagers to the companies that are part of the Zona Franca de Barcelona, without gender bias, so that they can see on the ground areas where they can develop their professional career. And I would also like to highlight that, during the celebration of SIL Barcelona, the leading logistics, transport, intralogistics and supply chain fair in Southern Europe, we are holding the Women in Logistics event, where we explore the role of women in the logistics sector and reflect on how to boost their representation in this industrial sector, which is so necessary and important for our economy. Any of these initiatives could be transferred to the Mediterranean, where public and private collaboration is essential to encourage policies and initiatives that promote gender equality in the region.

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