Europe Co's Should Focus on Women

June 18, 2002 ( - European companies must step up their efforts in retaining and motivating female employees - or risk further lagging their US counterparts, a new survey reported.

Of the 500 women business executives interviewed in the survey, 66% said stereotypes and preconceptions were a leading barrier to advancement.

Other barriers they cited included:

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  • lack of female role models,
  • lack of line experience, and
  • family responsibilities

Some 63% of the women executives who took part had children and 75% were married or living with a long-term partner.

Yet the survey showed that most respondents, both male and female, believed their careers would be harmed if they took parental leave, sabbaticals or other flexible work arrangements.

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Sheila Wellington, president of Catalyst, which conducted the survey, said European firms seemed to be undergoing a modernization process now, as they sought to deal with the continent’s ageing workforce and lagging productivity.

“This is an issue that can’t wait, as the birth-rate declines and as the population ages,” she said. “Smart European companies recognize the business case for inclusion.”

The survey, which covered 700 senior executives in 20 European countries, was sponsored by several multinational companies.