The glass ceiling at the TOBB has still not been broken

The glass ceiling at the TOBB has still not been broken

The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) declared its new board of directors on May 16, a day after the elections for chambers and commodities. Once again, not a single woman was named on the board even though TOBB President Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu has always supported women entrepreneurs.

The new boards of Turkey’s prominent occupational bodies have been emerging.

The picture that emerged after the elections saddened women who have been advocates of strengthening the place of women in business life. In determining the names on the board of directors, in which Hisarcıklıoğlu had become president of for the fifth time, it was considered to bring together chairs of various chambers and commodities from different parts of Anatolia and to create a balance between the bodies. Yet, nobody had thought of women!

Hisarcıklıoğlu, whose acts I have been covering for many years, had supported women entrepreneurs in a speech he made in the eastern province of Van on March 8.

“Although 40 million women constitute half of our population, almost 20 million of them are not involved in the labor force. This is a tremendous treasure, not lying under the ground but over the ground. We cannot attain our goals without having women involved in the economy. In every country, development is dependent on human capital. We need women in our journey of making Turkey richer,” he said.

Actually, Hisarcıklıoğlu is a businessperson who supports women in taking part in work life. He led the establishment of the Women Entrepreneurship Council in 2007. He always supported the events organized by that council.

However, among the TOBB, which is the umbrella organization of 365 chambers and commodities with 1.2 million members, there were only three women chamber chairs and five sector council chairs. I could not get the most up-to-date figures but I do not think there has been any significant change.

Hisarcıklıoğlu had said he expected the representation of women to increase during the latest elections. Unfortunately, it did not come true as he had wished.

Not one woman has been elected as a substitute member, let alone a permanent board member, although there are many successful women who are industrialists, merchants and maritime traders.

Businesswomen were again defeated in the competition against men and were unable to enter the boards of their own occupational organizations. Thus, the glass ceiling was still not broken and this was reflected in the board of directors.

Turkey ranks 131st among 144 countries in terms of gender equality. The rate of women’s involvement in work life is 36 percent, whereas it is 51 percent in Europe. The proportion of female employers is only 8 percent and 18 percent among senior executives.

The Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK) has received the highest score in this field. Fourteen out of 142 business councils of DEİK have female chairs.

The Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) has also been mindful of this issue. There are three women on TÜSİAD’s board of directors.

The elections in the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) are in progress. The associations within the TİM, which has 60,000 members in total, have concluded the elections. We will see how many women will take place in the picture that will emerge after the elections for presidency and board of directors conclude in June.

On top of that, the number of seats taken by women in the next parliament after the June 24 elections is an issue of concern.

The Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGİDER) has made a call to increase the proportion of women in the parliament, which is currently at 15 percent with 82 seats, to much more.

Rifat Hisarcıoğlu, gender gap, sexism,