The 8th March is International Women’s day. This day was created during a time when women had no rights at all, to remind us of a fight that started many centuries ago. However, several years after there is still work to do in terms of gender justice.
For legal purposes, men and women are indeed equal before the law and there is no discrimination, at least in the Western world. However, the same cannot be said when we talk about the business sector where the majority of management jobs are held by men.
"What we see is some problems in the labour market because there is a tendency to direct leadership positions towards men, creating an imbalance in equal opportunities," said Ana Antunes, meeting place manager of MAR Shopping Algarve.
However, in the Ingka Group, to which the shopping centre belongs, "both equity and diversity are part of our DNA and worldwide we have the numbers to show it. Over 60 percent of jobs are held by women, and 66 percent of leadership or management positions are also held by women. We are clearly implementing actions so that there is equal opportunity for both men and women", she said.
According to Ana Antunes, she is living proof of this growth and that it is possible in the company. "I started working here in 2016, a year before MAR Shopping Algarve opened to the public, and when I joined our organisation I was working as a deputy director of operations and I was in charge of all the operations and technical facilities.”
"In the case of Portugal, both Ingka Group shopping centres are being led by women. I am at MAR Shopping Algarve and Sandra Monteiro is at MAR Shopping Matosinhos and we are both examples of an internal progression within our organisation”, she said.
"I am very proud to belong to Ingka Group, where we share values such as health, well-being, equal rights, and equal opportunities for both men and women”, she added.
However, it wasn't always like this for Ana Antunes. The current director of the shopping centre worked in the construction area as a civil engineer. At the time, she told me that there was a lot of gender discrimination.
"I felt discrimination in construction and to this day it is still felt, especially on the building site, where we have construction workers who are all men and when there is a female element that is part of the supervision team, project management or site management and is basically monitoring the evolution of an entire project there is a prejudice”, she said.
“Unfortunately we can still see situations where a woman when she is clear and assertive in her leadership is considered bossy, and if a man has that attitude he is considered a strong leader. Unfortunately, this reality still exists”, Ana Antunes told The Portugal News.
To put a stop to this, Ana Antunes thinks that the companies themselves have to set an example: "The companies play such an important rule. If we have a company that already has these core values, we are basically contributing to society to develop in a more fair and balanced way. A large part of the work also depends on the companies", she pointed out.
"Whoever leads a team is leading by example. We are influencing a large number of people, not only those working here, but also their families, their friends and the whole of society."
"Companies play a key role in gender equality"
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