Young professionals are focused on development regardless of gender and area of interest: it could be a career in big business, startups, social entrepreneurship or science. This is their advantage: the new generation is not limited by anything in the realization of their ambitions. This opinion was expressed by Olga Dergunova, Deputy President and Chairman of the Management Board of VTB Bank, Director of the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg University (GSOM SPbU) at the conference "Women in Business: Leadership and Entrepreneurship" of the Vedomosti newspaper.
Olga Dergunova spoke at the session "Women in Business: Current Challenges and the Latest Trends in the Country and the World", which was broadcast live from the Vedomosti studio. Speaking about the specifics of the discussion of gender and leadership in the audience of the University Business School, she emphasized:
“We consider it necessary to tell students about successful cases not only in corporate business, but also in science, social entrepreneurship, motherhood, family, and give examples of women entrepreneurs in Russia in the 19th century. It is important to convey the idea that the models of success can be different — as well as the scope of application of skills and knowledge acquired in the university."
Olga Dergunova noted that it is significant that students, choosing teams for group work, consciously form gender-mixed teams. Such conditions are as close as possible to real ones, they allow you to train different role models that depend on a person's personal qualities, but not his gender. For GSOM SPbU students, 60% of whom are girls and 40% are boys, this is important. Especially taking into account equality in knowledge — Olga Dergunova recalled that the passing score at GSOM SPbU in 2021 was high and amounted to 95 in one subject.
The speaker emphasized that awareness, in principle, is a characteristic feature of the younger generation: “Earlier, alumni dreamed of a career in a corporation, now they want to start their career in different directions — in startups, social entrepreneurship, freelancing. And in order to make the right choice, they deliberately set aside about 10 years after graduation."
Another topic for discussion in the studio was the ESG agenda. Olga Dergunova noted that this is a good platform for learning to negotiate. It is useful to train the ability to negotiate in the process of production activities: “Respecting the employee's right to be different means, among other things, helping women, after returning from maternity leave, to catch up with the level of awareness lost during their time away from the team”.
Marina Medvedeva, Managing Director at Sibur, noted that in the near future the ESG agenda may become government-regulated. The topic of sustainable development came to the focus of the company several years ago. According to the speaker, women are aimed at achieving long-term goals, which will be useful for many years. For example, corporate culture, attracting young talent, stimulating and retaining them is an investment in the future, the social responsibility that the company promotes.
Speaking about gender inequality in the corporate environment, Inessa Galaktionova, Member of the Board, First Vice President for Telecommunications of MTS, stated that it persists. Although if all countries of the world came to equality on this issue by 2025, world GDP could grow by $ 12 trillion (these are the expert forecasts). Companies could support women in their efforts to maintain equal positions with men in their careers by creating flexible working hours, as well as providing distance learning and other measures during maternity leave, the expert is sure.
To empower female employees — and employees — AFK Sistema has launched internal entrepreneurial courses to empower professionals. Anna Belova, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors, Senior independent Director of the Company, spoke about this. As for the difference between men and women, it is not in approaches, but in the perception of the world and tasks, the speaker summed up.
The session was also attended by moderator Elena Rechkalova, Independent Director and Leader of the Women on Boards of Directors Community, speakers are entrepreneur and founder of the Garden City network Daria Lisichenko, General Director of Dozhd TV channel Natalya Sindeeva, General Director of Mary Kay Russia Alla Sokolova, and Tatiana Fileva, shareholder, CEO of S7 Group.