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Co-inspiration between social and conventional enterprises to promote equal access to decision making positions in Belgium

November 2015
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One of the most important activities of the Gender Balance Power Map project consists in carrying out national qualitative studies aimed at taking stock of the access of women to decision-making positions in conventional and social enterprises in each partner country. In this national study, POUR LA SOLIDARITÉ analyses the situation in Belgium on the basis of two case studies.

In 2015, PLS conducted two in-depth qualitative case studies, one in a conventional enterprise and one in a social enterprise in Belgium employing less than 65 persons. The present research reveals that both enterprises invite women to hold middle and lowlevel management positions which are as a consequence mainly occupied by women. Top management positions are however dominated, if not exclusively held, by men.

The findings clearly show that the national legislative framework has no impact on small enterprises and that the resources scarcity (lack of time, of money, of formal HR services, etc.) is a strong factor hindering the development of sound talent search programs or equality gender policies.

Even though both types of enterprises have very different corporate cultures (a gender-neutral one in the conventional enterprise; a gender-sensitive one in the social enterprise), both organisations tend to reproduce unconsciously gender stereotypes.

The small size of the organisations however plays in favour of a broader range of arrangements and informal support structures helping women both fulfilling their professional objectives and balancing their private and professional lives.