Córdoba has a powerful productive map and, in tune with it, a rich and active network of long-standing business entities. In this world, and in a fairly symmetrical response to what happens in local companies, women still have a minority presence.
Although female participation and protagonism are growing, all the leaders consulted agree that gender equality in the field of business unionism is far from being achieved.
A survey carried out by The voice Out of 63 of the main and most active local chambers, federations, assemblies, and business associations (representatives of the economic activities with the greatest impact in the province), it shows that only 10 percent of them have a woman in her top leadership position. : The presidency. Some of those who occupy or occupied that place give testimony in this note.
If the gaze is broadened towards the entire conductive body of the entities, the number of women grows, but it continues far from reaching 50/50 with men.
The encouraging data: there is a coincidence that female participation increases in number and gains power, but so far it has been a slow process if one considers all that remains to be done.
For example, if the personal paths of the leaders who “arrived” are analyzed, most of them average at least a decade of previous active action within their entity. At that rate, and taking into account the still very low quota of women on this map, achieving a more equitable relationship at the highest level will take many decades.
Quota and gender areas
For some, such as Beatriz Bederian, president of the Córdoba Wood, Furniture and Equipment Chamber (Cammec), it is important to speed up the process in this and other areas with different tools. “Quota laws are one of them, also those that propose incentives and differential advantages associated with achieving equity,” he says.
The application of the former has been at the fore in politics in Argentina, and is already showing good results in the local and national legislative powers.
Another example, although with a different mechanism on the private sector, is the recent provincial law 10,719, which encourages the participation of women in company boards and in other organizations, through a certification that allows access to benefits if they meet certain requirements.
The truth is that at least the “conversation” regarding gender equality has already been installed in a large part of the business entities, according to their members. And some, such as the Industrial Union of Córdoba (UIC), are making progress in giving institutional impetus to the issue.
The entity aims to formally launch its Gender and Diversity Department this year, a space that seeks to be open and heterogeneous dedicated to pushing these issues within the organization and especially on the map of local industries.
The initiative is related to a national work with an epicenter in the Argentine Industrial Union (UIA), which in 2020 activated a similar department. Natalia Heyd Murad, CEO of + Latina (a partner with her two sisters) and a member of both entities for years, is a member of the UIA space and is one of the leaders dedicated to replicating it in Córdoba.
“The idea is to make it diverse and to work on raising awareness on the issue, promoting favorable legislation, good practices and articulation with other initiatives, such as gender programs of international organizations,” Heyd explains.
The leaders agree that another line of action is to work on the “contagion” and network-building effect: that women who enter the entities summon others, or make themselves visible to inspire peers to participate.
Natalia Heyd Murad
UIC, UIA, Agenda for Equality
The CEO of + Latina began her business union activity at the age of 26, summoned by one of the veteran leaders of the Argentine Graphic Union (Ugar). At the same time, she became the first president of that entity, and shortly afterwards also one of the women to join the ranks of the Industrial Union of Córdoba (UIC). There, almost alone in his genre, 10 years ago he joined the team of founders of the Department of Young Industrialists, the space that became a rich hotbed of business leaders.
“In 2012 the UIA chose me to participate in a United Nations workshop on women in leadership positions and believed that this set me off, made me aware of the importance of gender issues,” he acknowledges. Today, she works to activate a gender and diversity department at UIC.
UIC Executive Committee
She is one of two women (the other is Isabel Martínez) who make up the 17-member executive committee of the Córdoba Industrial Union (UIC). Between 2019 and 2020, she became the first of her kind to chair the Department of Young Industrialists of the entity, a space for generational replacement and greater transversality that in a way oxygenates and adds momentum to the UIC.
“We work alongside men, in a very natural way. We learn from each other, ”he explains. “Women have the attitude of adding more peers to these areas, I would say that we do business union evangelization, looking for new people to participate. And it is true that when women come among them, we are more excited. I think that in general, in entities and companies we are taking more active roles ”, says the managing partner of Juan y Félix Pasquale SRL.
Holder of the Wood Chamber
“The change has been happening but it is slow. Policies are needed that encourage equal participation of women and accelerate their empowerment, because obstacles remain. I believe that today the work to promote gender equality is decisive ”, says Bederian. It clarifies that this applies to many areas, including the management of companies and, among them, SMEs.
For the leader and owner of the Maconta company, “joint work” and complementary mixed work, and also between women, is fundamental. Precisely in the chamber is an example of the impact that the network effect or female contagion (leaders who add more peers to their entities or attract them from the reference) can achieve, since in an almost unprecedented case in Córdoba the entity has two consecutive presidents.
Secretary of fame
In the business union path that began 15 years ago, Soledad Milajer has been laying milestones: she was the first female president of the local timber chamber (today she is on the board of directors) and the first to achieve a relevant position (general secretary) of the national federation (Faima).
In this process, the importance of mentors, especially women, is highlighted. “Isabel Martínez (former president of the Córdoba Chamber of Metallurgical and Component Industries) was one of them; always very generous in transmitting this concept of ‘cheering up’ to women. Seeing and listening to her was always an inspiration, “he says. His successor, Beatriz Bederian, is another. “She was the woman who most supported me in the management,” highlights Milajer, who assures that she came to stimulate the female presence in the camera as something natural.
President of Afamac
Founded in 2007, the Association of Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers of Córdoba (Afamac) gave its maximum chair to a woman for the first time in 2020: Luciana Mengo, owner along with her brothers of Tres Eme SA (Silos Mengo), is an active member of the entity for 10 years.
Mengo’s achievement refers directly to that of a pioneer and still an active reference in the sector: Rosana Negrini, the head of Agrometal who became president of the Argentine chamber of the sector a decade ago. “Women with a vocation must join in participating without fear and not asking for permission. I never asked for it, nor was I ashamed, for example, of asking a president of Afamac years ago to allow me to go with him to see the minister of the area; although I did not have any position. Today the game is open and we have to take advantage of it ”, he urges.
The original text of this article was published on 03/08/2021 in our print edition.