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Women in the boardroom: the Italian experience of law vs. embedded tradition

Patrizia Riva, Roberta Provasi
International Journal Of Economics And Business Research ISSN: 1756-9850
JR-SIE (Versione 2.0 - 18/09/2013) : E Journal Rating AIDEA 2015 (Bozza) : C - 2015-01

On August 12, 2012 in Italy came into force the law 120/2011 - also known as the Golfo-Mosca law from the name of the two women who were able to have it approved - which established boardroom gender quota. From that moment a great goal has been reached: listed companies and state-owned companies need to fulfill the so-called “quota rosa” – a compulsory percentage of women - in the composition of the boards of directors and in the supervisory boards. According to the new Italian law 1/3 of the board members must be women. European standards are even more favorable to the presence of women in the board, and predict that by 2020 the presence of women in the boards must be at least of 40 percent of members. The research is aimed to illustrate the effects and the changes brought by the new law in the Italian companies and to analyze the cultural debate that has strongly brighten up the Italian scenery. The different approaches to the matter are drowned up and analyzed. The traditional approach consider the imposition by law of women in the board a choice contrary to the principles of meritocracy and free competition in the labour market able to disqualify the position of women as professionals and managers. The ground-breaking approach, on the contrary, affirm the law was crucial to overthrough the invisible barriers - defined as the glass ceiling - that, in the special Italian cultural environnement, have been penalizing for ages the career advancement of women. From this second perspective legislative action was needed to solve situations of evident unfair inequalities and to promote a cultural change. Only with the help of a strong kick off it has been possible to move from the traditional standstill situation and to hope in a positive future trend even without additional regulatory constraints. The research also outlines the presence of women in the boardrooms in other Europe countries in order to carry out a comparative analysis.