Italy, #diverseboards and a reason for hope

It seemed just too difficult, too corageous and brave. A work of so many years. So many “no’s”, so many “it’s impossible”…

Finally, Italy did it and set a good example.

Italy’s law on gender diversity for Board of Directors of listed companies (Law n. 120/2011, dated 12 July 2011, the so-called “Golfo Mosca Law”), comes into force tomorrow, 12 August 2012.

Starting tomorrow, in essence, Italian listed or State controlled companies will need to appoint a fifth (to become a third at the following mandate) of board members as part of the “under represented gender”.

Even before tomorrow, this law has been implemented earlier by a number of Italian corporates, during the Annual General Meeting season of 2012: exceptional women were selected, overall corporate governance improved. Italian companies have rightly taken it as a great opportunity to make better use of their Boards, on the basis of more merit and competency-based selection.

I have separately described this as a great sign of good things coming and more to come.

Here, I want to take a moment to celebrate the coming into force of this law as a reason for hope.

With this, I celebrate the work of Lella Golfo and Alessia Mosca, two outstanding ladies whose own differences were turned into a joint strength. With them, I celebrate all the very many exceptional female leaders, whose talent is already making a difference for the better in Italy and in Europe.

Tommaso Arenare

www.twitter.com/tommaso_arenare

Snap judgements, the Savannah and that “reply” button we hit too quickly

This is about identifying and avoiding wrong judgements we make as a result of an unconscious bias, dating back to millennia ago.

Such as when we say…

How come I was so wrong in assessing him when we first met?

Or even:

I wish I had waited a bit longer before replying to that email…

These and similar questions and observations come across so very often, when I talk with people about mistakes we make when we interact with people, select them or react to them.

Humanity is thought to have taken its modern form some 200,000 years ago. Back then,  when we used to live in the Savannah, in small closely knit family groups, most of our key decisions where about a “Fight or Flight” dilemma, when we would face dangerous animals or other dangerous human beings and we had to decide, in as little time as possible, if the best way to save our life was to fight or flight away.

A snap judgement, as the word implies, is our habit to make a decision about people, or reacting to people, unconsciously, in a matter of very few seconds (I would better say milliseconds) after we meet with that someone or we face a situation we consider as a challenge. A snap judgement is a very precious and important habit, which we have developed over many millennia. Over time, though, it has become highly dangerous if we can’t identify and address it properly.

We can change this to our benefit.

Let’s remeber that our brain has largely remained the same, after millennia of evolution. It’s the same brain which helped our ancestors make the right “Fight or Flight” decisions.

Think about today, though: our immediate reaction to that bad email we’ve received, or to that difficult situation we had to face during a meeting, or many similar situations, they all bring our brain back to the Savannah and our fight for survival.

But now we know.

We know that’s exactly when we need to acknowledge our inner feeling of fear, pause and take the time to decide differently. This may require, for example, postponing our decision to the next day, or perhaps involving a friend or colleague we like in re-assessing the elements with us, before we decide.

All of this can be far better than a snap judgement.

Let’s think about it next time we make a judgement about someone we meet or when we decide how to respond to a challenge we face, or when we select leaders for our organisation, as well as when we choose friends or partners in our daily life.

Yet, we may just need some extra time.

That little extra time will result into us reacting more effectively to challenges or selecting better, more talented people, who complement us and bring the added value of difference and diversity, as well as the benefit of far greater personal satisfaction.

Tommaso Arenare

 
 

Female leadership, Italy, diversity and the beauty of leading by example

This is about celebrating gender diversity and exceptional women in Italy sending a message in favour of exceptional female talent anywhere.

On 7 May 2012, in Brussels,Viviane Reding, Vice President of the European Commission, in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Lella Golfo, Member of the Italian Parliament, Alessia Mosca, Member of the Italian Parliament and Federiga Bindi, Director of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura of Brussels united to celebrate and send a message (picture below).

The case of Italy was chosen as a best practice for both a properly working law on diverse boards and the positive effects of its early implementation on overall corporate governance.

Federiga Bindi, Alessia Mosca, Viviane Reding and Lella Golfo on 7 May 2012 in Brussels

Lella Golfo and Alessia Mosca are two exceptional and exceptionally different Italian women and leaders. Both Members of Parliament elected for the first time in 2008, they are, under many points of view, different. Their stories are different, they belong to different parties, they come from different parts of the country, they differ for many aspects.

Diversity, though, is exactly why they succeeded together.

They united, they shared forces, shared thoughts and emotions. They combined different points of view. They listened to each other, they partially adapted their thoughts to each other’s. They managed to turn their (and their respective parties’) differences into a law, which perhaps neither of them would have been in a position to achieve if alone.

Italy’s law on gender diversity for Board of Directors of listed companies (Law n. 120/2011, dated 12 July 2011, the so-called “Golfo Mosca Law”), coming into force on 12 August 2012, requires, in essence, that Italian listed or State controlled companies appoint a fifth (to become a third at the following mandate) of board members as part of the “under represented gender”.

It does so in such a way that it works.

In fact, not only did Alessia Mosca and Lella Golfo lead the approval process of a visionary law. They also continued to work for its early and effective implementation.

As this law mandates for shareholders to change a number of board members, Italian companies have rightly taken it as a great opportunity to make better use of their Boards.

Hence, whilst not yet in effect, this law was actually implemented earlier by a number of Italian corporates, during the Annual General Meeting season of 2012: exceptional women were selected, overall corporate governance improved. Some leading Italian global companies, such as Fiat Chrysler for example, implemented a smaller board, with a view to fostering its effectiveness.

A great sign of good things coming and more to come.

Exceptional female talent is ever more crucial for the success of Italy and Europe, in one of those defining moments, as difficult as they are, where proper and effective use of talent and leadership can, and will make a difference for the better.

 

 

Tommaso Arenare

www.twitter.com/tommaso_arenare