Towards more women in…. everything February 14, 2020

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A blogpost by Dewi Van De Vyver

Yesterday we attended the 125th anniversary of the VBO-FEB.

As Flow Pilots we value the efforts of the federation to represent the concerns of the Belgian entrepreneurs in politics and society. Its new vision for 2030, Creating value for society, is one we surely endorse.

Yet, the venue, attended by over 2000 people, did not represent this society. The majority of attendees had more than reached the respectable age of retirement and was white male. On stage, white men. In the picture movie overlooking the presidency of Bernard Gilliot, besides our Queen Mathilde, all men. The occasions shown were all very important international and European summits where our future is being discussed. No women, no diversity. Checking the board of directors we can find 3 women on a total of 43 members.

We talk about the dangers of bias in AI but how about the bias in these society steering federations? What future are they creating? Surely not one where women are represented. Let alone minority groups.

When Pieter Timmermans and Bart De Smet (new president) presented their vision for 2030 and spoke of collaboration and inclusion one could only wonder who they have in mind. When Pieter Timmermans thanked the audience for their inspirational, innovative entrepreneurship half of my surroundings were taking a nap. Partly related to their respectable age but mainly because the focus area’s supporting the vision for 2030 are a missed opportunity. They are neither inspirational nor forthcoming.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully acknowledge the tremendous efforts all those very senior white male entrepreneurs have made over the years to create the prosperity we are living in today. But they do no longer represent the future. The focus area’s presented are not going to get Belgium in the top 3 of most competitive economies because they are not representing the way society is heading for.

I can only hope that more messages like these reach the Board of Directors of the VBO as well as its CEO and new chosen president, so that by 2030 we might make the shift towards an equal, sustainable and feasible future for all of us.