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Enrichment through diversity lunch with EWMD

The ECCT, together with the British Chamber of Commerce Taipei (BCCT), hosted a Special Lunch together with the European Women's Management Development network (EWMD) featuring guest speakers Brigitte Ott-Gobel, Founder of the Ott-Goebel-Youth Foundation and Dr Marie-Therese Claes, Professor of International Management at the University of Louvain. At the event speakers shared a European perspective on mixed leadership and how the European Women's Management Development network (EWMD) is working to help women in business.

The event was one of a series of the activities arranged for the visit to Taiwan by an international delegation of 35 female managers from EWMD. The delegation included representatives from companies such as Ernst & Young, Procter & Gamble, Union Investment Bank, TÜV Rheinland, Continental, Lenovo, Thomas Cook, Union Investment Bank and others from the tourism, consumer goods, banking, investment, tax consultancy, automotive, computer, telephone, internet, relocation and pharmaceutical industries.

EWMD was founded in 1984 with the vision of improving the quality of management with respect to women and men, children, age and the cultural diversity of Europe.

EWMD links professionals from all areas of business, education, politics and culture. Since its founding it has expanded to represent about 900 members in 40 European cities as well as others in the United States, South Africa and Asia. Around 20 large multinational corporations are members.

The organisation's major goals are to increase visibility and participation of qualified women in leading positions in all kinds of organisations, to raise quality levels in management, to enrich management culture by increasing the proportion of women and diversity, to contribute actively to political discussions and support scientific research at an international level.

The topics of focus include women in leading positions, management topics and business leadership, leadership styles and best practices, knowledge exchange in the network, work-life balance and patterns, life cycle awareness, role models for high potentials, lifestyles of successful women and equality of opportunity.

EWMD activities include networking events, workshops and webinars, national and international conferences, platforms for its corporate members and international delegation trips, such as the current one to Taiwan. A global board supports the international exchange between members and EWMD chapters in different countries.

In her presentation Dr Marie-Thérèse Claes said that, at the time EWMD was founded women who wanted to succeed in business were told to act like men. At the time there were very few successful women in business or academia and things did not change much for the next 20 years. It has only been in the past 10 years that some progress has been made. This can partly be attributed to quotas (a mandatory percentage of women). While the idea of quotas is controversial, both for men and women, and she herself was initially against it, she has since realised that sometimes change like gender diversity can only be achieved through legal requirements.

While women still bear most of the burden of child-rearing, more men are taking on more responsibility.

In her presentation Brigitte Ott-Göbel spoke about her experience at Daimler, where she set up a network to help women in management to exchange experience. At first she did not receive any encouragement but she finally got the board to agree. A similar network was set up at Bosch. Daimler eventually became a member of EWMD in 1999. The group now hopes to set up a chapter in Taiwan.