Lagarde: Two women on the Governing Council are not enough

In addition to green monetary policy, the president of the central bank is apparently increasingly concerned with inequality – not only between the rich and the poor, but also between men and women. What are the consequences?

ECB President Christine Lagarde is not only concerned with the stability of the euro.

Nprecisely on the subject of “green monetary policy”, “inequality” is increasingly preoccupying the President of the European Central Bank (ECB), Christine Lagarde. A week ago she had warned of more general social inequality caused by the crisis, now she expressed her concern in an interview that efforts to achieve gender equality could suffer a setback.

Lagarde said that inequality between the sexes (“gender inequality”) still exists, for example in access to the labor market and also in different wages (“gender pay gap”). In the industrialized countries of the OECD, the “pay gap” is still 13 percent. Women are working more and more, but are still under-represented in management positions, both in the private and public sectors. The corona crisis made the situation even worse for women, said Lagarde.

During the crisis, women took on almost 70 percent of the medical care work and thus exposed themselves to greater health risks. They were “active on all fronts” during the lockdown and often had to look after the children in addition to work. And now, according to experiences from other crises, the risk of losing their job or losing wages is even greater for them. Lagarde stated that ECB Executive Board member Isabel Schnabel and that they are the only women among 25 members of the Governing Council is not “as it should be” either.

Social inequality could increase

A week ago, Lagarde had spoken as a guest speaker at the annual meeting of Arab central bank governors. There, too, she devoted herself to the topic of inequality. In addition to a more relaxed monetary policy, structural policy is also necessary at the moment to ensure that the changes are sustainable, she said. Digitization is currently indispensable and desirable for many things – but history shows that technical upheavals sometimes led to more inequality in the beginning. “In order for the changes to be sustainable, it is crucial that we do not overlook those who could be replaced by technology, but create the framework conditions so that they can live prosperously in a more digital world.”

Quota for women in the ECB

Lagarde had already announced in May that the ECB would encourage more women in its workforce and had therefore launched a new model that would give more consideration to women in both recruitment and promotion. The program is to apply until 2026, i.e. within the term of office of Lagarde, the first woman to hold this post. “We want the gender balance to be the norm now,” said the ECB President. The ECB should reflect the society it serves.

The program contains targets for the proportion of women among new hires as well as for the entire workforce and certain salary levels. For new hires and promotions, the proportion should be at least 50 percent everywhere. The proportion in “senior management” is to increase from 30.8 to 40 percent by 2026, in management as a whole from 30.3 to 36 percent, among the leading experts from 33.3 to 42 percent, among the experts from a total of 41, 9 to 47 percent. Only analysts are planning a decline from 52 to 51 percent.