A t the end of 2013, Jenny Lahrin and Åsa Söderström Jerring were appointed to Vattenfall’s Board of Directors. By joining Eli Arnstad and Gunilla Berg, they gave the board a completely balanced gender diversity among the members elected at the company’s annual general meeting.
Of the current Executive Group Management consisting of ten directors, three are women.
The male-female diversity on its board and in leading positions assigns Vattenfall twentieth place in audit firm Ernst & Young’s list of the energy companies with the largest number of female board members and senior managers.
SOUTH AFRICA AT THE TOP
The audit firm has examined the gender diversity in 200 of the world’s largest state-owned energy companies on the basis of their turnover, and concluded that only 14 per cent of their board members are women.
South Africa’s Eskom is ranked first on the list, with women accounting for seven of its twelve board members.
Annika Viklund, Head of BA Distribution at Vattenfall, has worked actively to raise the number of female managers in her organisation for many years.
What do you think that Vattenfall can/ought to do to attract more women to senior management?
“I think that both genders are attracted by interesting services, both specialist and senior services in the energy sector, which is where lots of exciting things are happening. We need to continue our policy of open recruitment, talk about our interesting business challenges with our colleagues when we have external management vacancies and deliberately aim for greater diversity in our management groups.”
Why do you think that getting more women onto the boards is so slow?
“There are several reasons, but it does seem that boards tend to be quite homogeneous. For instance it’s quite common for nomination committees and owners to approach senior persons whom they know, who have held leading operative positions, and they have traditionally most often been men. In addition, the energy industry as a whole is male-dominated. As regards developments and among the member companies of the Swedish Energy Association, for example, there are almost thirty female CEOs of energy companies and many other women in senior positions today, so I hope that more women will be appointed to the company boards in the course of time.”
Why is it so important to have female board members and women in senior management positions in companies?
“I believe that diversity is enriching, in all industries and at all levels. A board with diverse experiences, backgrounds, genders and competences can approach a company’s key issues along a wider front, and a broad-based and competent board is a major support for a CEO. In addition, most industries have male and female customers, and if they and their boards can reflect this diversity, they have greater opportunities to see more aspects of their customers’ expectations, and can thus also understand their customers better and do better business.”
What is your feeling about quotas?
“As I think that good leadership as well as the right experience and knowledge should always be the dominant criteria here, and these qualities are shared by both genders, there should be no need for quotas. Certainly there are various occupational roles in several industries in which an increased level of diversity is needed – in both female and male-dominated sectors. So it may be necessary to apply quotas there to promote the under-represented gender for a time if it won’t otherwise happen. At Vattenfall, I feel we ought to attract both genders to the interesting roles available and get a more balanced distribution of the genders with time.”