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Second gen promoted to top post as Italy embraces gender diversity

Emma Marcegaglia, co-chief executive of her family's eponymous steel company, has been appointed chairwoman of Italy's largest state-owned company, following a shake up of state-owned firms by Italy's new centre-left government to try and change the country's masculine corporate culture.
Emma Marcegaglia is set to chair Eni – Italy's largest state-owned firm

Emma Marcegaglia, co-chief executive of her family's eponymous steel company, has been appointed chairwoman of Italy's largest state-owned company, following a shake up of state-owned firms by Italy's new centre-left government to try and change the country's masculine corporate culture.

Marcegaglia, 49, dubbed "Italy's iron lady" in the press, landed the role at energy group Eni.

It is not her first high-profile post outside the family business – she was the first woman to head Italian industrial lobby group Confindustria, and is currently president of Business Europe, the biggest lobby group in Brussels. 

Alessandra Ornati, a spokeswoman for the steel company, told CampdenFB that Marcegaglia would continue in her position of chief executive with the family firm, saying this was the essential condition she had laid down before accepting the post as chairman of Eni.  

Marcegaglia, a second gen who shares the leadership at the family business with her brother Antonio, was one of three women to be nominated to top posts in the government shake up.

Patrizia Grieco, chairman of smartphone and tablet manufacturer Olivetti, became chairman of electric utility company Enel, while Luisa Todini, a board member of state broadcaster RAI, was nominated chairman of Poste Italiane.

Italy is notorious for its all-male boardrooms, and its opaque governance structures, but the government, which is headed by 39-year-old Matteo Renzi, the country's youngest ever prime minister, has pledged to change Italy's corporate culture in a bid to attract foreign investment.

Italy suffered two years of recession between 2011 and 2013, and now has record levels of levels of unemployment, currently standing at 13%.

Renzi said he was "particularly pleased" with the "strong presence of women" now in state companies, adding it would bring help bring female representation in these firms into line with other big European companies.

More than 500 jobs at state-owned or state-controlled firms were available in this week's shake-up, something critics have derisively dubbed the "nomination sweepstake" because it gives Renzi a chance to repay favours following his appointment in February.

However, the government has hit back saying the changes are not an isolated event, pointing out businesses can no longer rely on domestic banks to raise capital, and change is therefore a necessity to attract foreign investment.  

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