Social Impact In a conversation with Simona Scarpaleggia on International Women's Day

On International Women's Day, we get to know a strong woman. She is well known in the gender equality and diversity business. Her name? Simona Scarpaleggia. Simona mainly stands up for gender equality and diversity in the business context. She was almost 10 years CEO of Ikea, founded «Advance – Women in Swiss Business»,  a trade association with 120 Swiss companies, that are committed to get more women in management. Moreover, she's the Co-chair of the United Nations High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment».

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On International Women's Day, we honor strong women and celebrate the achievements they have made so far. This day also reminds us that gender equality is still not achieved in all areas. That means we must and may continue to work every day for an equal, diverse and inclusive society. Every step in this direction brings us closer to our goal.

Simona and equality
Simona has always had a good sense for human rights, she explains to us. She firmly believes that every human in this world has the right to be treated fairly and with respect. However, during her lifetime and career, she has often experienced that not everyone is treated equally and fairly. Although women make up half of the global population, they are unprivileged, discriminated and suffer from poverty and abuse, in fact, more than men. It’s clear that this situation is problematic for women as well as for men. During her career, she applied her personal engagement with gender equality in the business world.

Simona started with small, but very effective measures. For example: schedule important meetings at specific times of the day. Not before 10 am and also not later than 4 pm. These small-time adjustments allow women to combine family life with career. This way they can bring their children to daycare and pick them up again. Simona says: “I believe in people”. I firmly believe that people can make a change in a company. And why shouldn’t we make men and women's life easier so that they have equal opportunities?”

United Nations High-Level-Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment
At her work as Co-chair «UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment» the panel developed 7 principles and action-oriented recommendations for the private and public sector. The goal: to actively promote gender equality at a global level and thus improve the situation of women in business and politics! When it comes to strengthening the economic participation of women, two approaches are particularly important to Simona. On one hand, “Leave no woman behind”, that means, women from all economic areas should be considered in the preparation of the recommendations. Women from the agriculture, the informal sector, from the employment relationship and also founders and entrepreneurs. Only like that can an integral system be developed that benefits all women

The second approach:«Nothing done for women, without women». For Simona, it’s clear that women should be involved in decisions that affect their lives. It’s important to engage with women and find out their needs, where the difficulties lie, in order to consider them.

For a diverse and inclusive society
In our conversation with Simona Scaroaleggia, we also talked about general difficulties for women with migratory background. She believes that the cultural and political hurdles are the biggest challenge for a migrant. To overcome these hurdles, a lot of integration work has to be done, thinks Simona. Valeriana does something very valuable regarding inclusion and integration. They don’t only offer a workplace, but also schooling to acquire further qualifications. In addition, there is the German course to help with the language. With community work, they create the space to build a real community."

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