The Business and Professional Women’s Club Berlin e.V. leads the way towards more equality between men and women in the working world with the EU-funded project SWOPS. The aim is to develop innovative HR tools for the sustainable transformation of corporate cultures. towards the end of October 2015, the four international project partners from France, Germany, Sweden and Austria met in Swedish Motala to share their preliminary results. The transnational finding is alarming: HR managers are often frighteningly powerless.
Good laws alone cannot increase the proportion of women in leadership positions,” says Henrike von Platen, President BPW Germany.” SWOPS identifies the factors that hinder decision makers from offering equal opportunities to men and women. Such tools are needed in order to accompany changes in the companies and to create a sustainable economy.”
In all four partner countries where four SMEs were interviewed by counselors on their staff on-site management, structural deficits in terms of opportunity fairness could be identified. In particular, in some companies, a clear definition of the existing decision-making functions was missing, a corresponding organizational chart was rarely found. In some companies, HR executives were lacking essential decision-making powers for their function. Especially in traditionally run family business, this always leads to trouble. Often recruiters had no power in the company or find themselves in the so-called “sandwich position”. This is where the consulting model SWOPS provides support, for example in improving communication between management, employees as well finding agreement on clear rules and the balanced distribution of responsibilities and roles.
In Sweden, the SME consultancies lead to the question of dissolution of gender stereotypes. There is still an urgent need for action, particularly in the STEM professions. Employers in Austria mentioned a challenge in change processes with the willingness of the workforce: To introduce innovation, as well as flexible working arrangements or offers for families and care periods, both motivation and active support of employees are crucial.
With regard to the fields of action for the consultation model to be developed, Cornelia F. Kramer, 1st Chair of BPW Club Berlin and SWOPS project manager, makes clear that it was necessary to consider the corporate culture in addition to the “Country Culture”: “The consultative person must be the ‘ice breaker’ and provide his or her own strategy for the successful implementation of changes. For the success of the consulting the management commitment is essential. I am convinced that with SWOPS we give many companies in Europe an effective tool at hand that brings positive effects for the economy.”
SWOPS stands for structural change oriented personnel strategy. The employer branding tool is funded by the PROGRESS program of the European Union and co-financed by the Berlin Senate for Labour, Integration and Women (SenAIF; Germany) and the Senate Östergötland (Sweden) and was initiated by the BPW Club Berlin.
In addition to the Berlin RKW GmbH, which is responsible for the content control, other international partners are involved: the European employers’ association Centre Européen de Ressources of Groupements of Employeurs (CERGE), Poitiers, and at the regional level the Centre de Ressources of Groupements d’Employeurs (CRGE), Poitou-Charentes, France. In Austria, the 130 enterprises with comprehensive cluster for sustainable waste management in Styria ARGE.at and in Sweden the SME network of location Developer Tillväxt Motala.
Sophie von Zezschwitz
Tel. (030) 650 046 34
BPW Club Berlin
Communication & Public Affairs