Confindustria elects first-ever female president

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In March 2008, the executive board of the Confederation of Italian Industry (Confindustria), the largest Italian employers’ association, nominated Emma Marcegaglia as the new president for 2008–2112. Ms Marcegaglia will be the first-ever female president of Confindustria. Her mandate will officially start on 21 May during the organisation’s annual assembly. Ms Marcegaglia is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the successful family-owned Marcegaglia iron and steel enterprise.

The Confederation of Italian Industry (Confederazione Generale dell’Industria Italiana, Confindustria) has elected its first-ever female president. On 13 March 2008, the Confindustria executive board, the managerial body of the association, nominated Emma Marcegaglia as the future president of the confederation by a large majority of votes (95%). She will succeed the current President, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, who has held the position since March 2004 (IT0404101N).

On 23 April, the date of the next board meeting, Ms Marcegaglia was due to present her new collaborators together with her work programme for the next four years, 2008–2012. The official election to the post will take place on 21 May, during Confindustria’s annual assembly.

Profile of new president

Ms Marcegaglia was formerly the president of both the Association of Confindustria Young Entrepreneurs (GI Confindustria) and the European Confederation of Young Entrepreneurs (YES). She is considered a strong, dynamic and successful woman. The future Confindustria president currently holds the post of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of her family business, the Marcegaglia Group, an iron and steel manufacturing enterprise founded in 1959 as a small artisan laboratory. Today, the company operates at international level in the iron and steel sector and has an annual turnover of €4 billion. Furthermore, the company employs 6,500 people and boasts 50 production plants in Italy and abroad.

Ms Marcegaglia has stated that her nomination represents a ‘symbolic and significant event for all women’, adding that her management of Confindustria will not involve any drastic modifications of the work carried out by her predecessor, Mr di Montezemolo, with the exception of some ‘new introductions’.

She has intervened in the debate concerning health and safety at the workplace, defining it as a ‘fundamental priority’. In order to deal with this dramatic emergency, the future president intends to set up a vice-presidency of Confindustria which will be responsible for the management of problems in this area of working life. Ms Marcegaglia has confirmed that the employers disapprove of the decree set out by the government regarding workplace health and safety (IT0804039I), questioning ‘this logic of sanctions as a solution to the problem of accidents at the workplace’.

Positive reactions to nomination

The nomination of Ms Marcegaglia as the new president of Confindustria has met with the approval of all of the social actors and political parties.

Political views

The outgoing Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, is confident that she will ‘guide Confindustria firmly and wisely in this period of transition in Italy’.

The Minister for the Family, Rosy Bindi, considers that ‘a woman leading Confindustria is good news for Italy’ and that Ms Marcegaglia ‘has already demonstrated that her human and professional qualities are more than sufficient to tackle this new challenge’.

Former Minister for Equal Opportunities in the Berlusconi government, Stefania Prestigiacomo, highlights that ‘her appointment is an important indication of the evolution of Italian society, the sign that another glass ceiling for women has been shattered and that the entrepreneurial world is rapidly changing’.

Trade union views

The trade union organisations also supported the nomination of Ms Marcegaglia. According to the Confederal Secretary of the General Confederation of Italian Workers (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro, Cgil), Carla Cantone, Ms Marcegaglia ‘is an able woman who will be an important president aware of useful and democratic industrial relations’.

The General Secretary of the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Trade Unions (Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori, Cisl), Raffaele Bonanni, is certain that the new president will consolidate the positive relations between Confindustria and the trade unions.

Furthermore, the General Secretary of the Union of Italian Workers (Unione Italiana del Lavoro, Uil), Luigi Angeletti, considers Ms Marcegaglia to be ‘a person that well knows the Confindustria and the trade union movement. She will be more than able to carry out her duties as president: the industrialists have made the right choice’.

Commentary

Following many years of divisions and heavy political interference in the choices of the organisation, due mainly to the work of President di Montezemolo, Confindustria has recovered a solid internal unity, organising its actions independently of political forces.

Ms Marcegaglia certainly represents the figure of a successful entrepreneur – a person who is able, if necessary, to work autonomously with the trade union organisations in an effort to establish the agenda of social change and modernisation of the country.

Vilma Rinolfi and Domenico Paparella, Cesos

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