Informations and abstract
Keywords: labour market, equal opportunities policy, gender inequality within organizations, quality of work, women's studies
The female employment rate in Italy is still among the lowest in Europe, in spite of the progress that has taken place over the past 15 years. Horizontal and vertical segregation continue to characterize the presence of women on the labour market. The results obtained from a longitudinal research carried out on about 300 firms in Piedmont that have over 100 employees is as follows: From 1996 to 2001, there was not a marked improvement in the internal gender composition within the majority of firms mentioned previously. There were, however, quite a few firms that, without doubt improved their gender balance. although the situation got worse in other firms. Case studies carried out on 12 companies (2 in the textile sector, 5 in the electrical electronics sector and 5 in the metal-mechanical sector) emphasized a parallelism between the utilization of policies that were acquainted with equal opportunities and organizational policies aimed to improve employee competencies and encourage participation and stimulate organizational learning processes. The above mentioned firms took advantage of public incentives intended to realize equal opportunities policy. The results obtained from many public programs aimed to promote equal opportunities confirm the outcome of the research carried out. Two types of companies took advantage of the incentives: 1) public and private enterprises that were not affected by international competition; 2) companies where equal opportunities depended on an overall policy aimed to enhance individual competences and ameliorate company performance. Therefore, if, the aim is to conciliate work and daily life and equal opportunities, together with an innovatory strategy within the entire economic system, we have to watch the second type of companies with great attention.