More courage for diversity

In Switzerland, over a quarter of a million women earn their living as entrepreneurs: as freelancers, as partners in the owner team, as entrepreneurs with employees. They make up 39 percent of all entrepreneurially active people in the country. This impressive proportion of women has grown without specific support and on their own initiative. Many of these women work in SMEs, which account for two-thirds of all jobs.

The widely lamented meager proportion of women in specialist and management positions does not primarily affect SMEs, but mainly large companies. And let’s stop with another myth: We don’t lose women managers to families; they move to their own company, not to the kitchen table.

So what can the big ones learn from the small ones? For example: companies, teams, processes and projects can be managed in less than 42 to 55 working hours per week. 40 percent of female entrepreneurs with staff work an average of 22 hours a week – and they are successful. Many entrepreneurs with a portfolio of board mandates, association activities and political commitment have proven for decades that leadership works with reduced time expenditure per engagement. Studies also show that productivity per hour increases significantly with smaller workloads.

My thesis is: heteronomy and expectations of presence, availability and work processes drive women out of the corset of corporate careers. And: Large companies tend to over-regulate and to be under pressure to conform. An SME or entrepreneurship in general allows for more individual diversity and compatibility.

What does this mean for the big companies?

Reduces rules. Managers of the future (and with them the legislator and the trade unions) need more courage for diversity and difference. Have confidence in the personal responsibility of all actors.