Latvian business leaders focus on the benefits of gender equality

The “EQUALITY PAYS OFF” workshop in Riga attracted 36 participants from the largest Latvia‘s companies and social partners. The event held on March 6, 2013 was organized with the support of the Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia.

In their opening speeches, Mr. Pēteris Krīgers, Chairman of the Free Trade Union Confederation and Mrs. Inese Stepiņa, Deputy General Director of the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia noted that women have long been an integral part of the labour market in Latvia so that people don’t view female employment as an issue. Both speakers stressed the need to overcome gender stereotypes that are still strongly influencing Latvian women’s employment.

Trainers Gunta Misāne and Inese Bērs focused the workshop on the impact of organisational structure and communication of companies’ activities on gender equality. Participants agreed that in Latvia, the lack of opportunities to work part-time, limits women‘s chances of entering the workforce at all. For companies so far failing to recognise the benefit of offering part-time work, a good starting point could be offering more flexibility choosing the place where work is undertaken.

Participants underlined the urgency and importance of approaching students early on to offset skill shortages which are set to become a major challenge in Latvia due to both demographic change and emigration. Establishing sustainable and long-lasting contact to students – for example by offering them jobs or internships – enables them to get to know a company and its employees in practice and significantly raises the likelihood of them opting for the company after completing their studies.

Companies need to communicate what they are doing to enhance gender equality in order to attract top talent, but also in order to contribute to a sustainable change in corporate culture. Participants stressed the need for action to make small and medium sized companies aware of the benefits of gender equality.

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