BY: Andrea Lardani
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On October 26th, Grupo Wellness Latina, Global Women for Wellbeing and Universidad de San Andrés organized a conference in Buenos Aires about women´s wellbeing at the workplace. Novartis, Grupo Omint and Nestlé sponsored the conference. About sixty participants assisted, occupying almost a hundred percent of the auditorium.
Andrea Lardani, Director at Grupo Wellness Latina, opened the conference explaining that the term wellbeing has different definitions but some consensus exists about three characteristics of wellbeing: it is subjective, it has a cognitive aspect and an emotional one. So wellbeing is what we think and fell about our lives. Andrea also talked about the reasons of choosing this topic for the conference, why women if we are also interested in men’s, children´s and adolescents ´wellbeing? Women have particular aspects, as the possibility of breast feeding, that need specific responses from organizations. For this reason, we have invited different companies to tell us about what they are doing in this direction.
The conference was divided in two panels. A Data Panel and a Good Practices Panel.
Paula Ferrari, Topic Chair of Digital Inclusion at W20 Argentina and Regional Marketing Director of GSMA opened the panel talking about the conclusions presented at W20 Summit which took place on October 2nd and 3rd in Buenos Aires sharing very interesting data about the gender gap related to the use of internet and mobile phones. Pamela Suzanne, professor at Escuela de Negocios of Universidad de San Andrés talked about how to generate self-confidence presenting real cases as examples. Lucía Kazelian, Chief of cardiology hospitalization unit at Hospital Argerich and Member of the area Heart and Women from the Sociedad Argentina de Cardiología presented data about the principal health problems women face today. During her presentation, the audience was alarmed when Lucía exposed that 1 every 3 women die of heart disease or stroke, illnesses that tend to be more associated to men. For this reason, Dr. Kazelian emphasized the importance of preventing risks factors – such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, overweight and stress -. Regarding stress,María Migali , Commercial Director at Grupo Wellness Latina, defined it as a necessary survival response. Negative stress appears when we perceive that our resources are not enough to cope with a given situation. Regarding stress in women, María mentions three different positions in research: 1) Those who consider that performing multiple roles is a source of stress and conflict that reduces life quality; 2) researchers that present how multiple roles benefit women´s wellbeing as when they work they have more social support, economic resources and opportunities to excel themselves which increases self-esteem; and 3) those who view the effects of multiple roles in health and wellbeing in relation to how such roles are perceived by each women. This means, that performing a certain role does not generate stress per se, it depends on the cognitive attribution given to the experience. Closing the panel, Silvia Solá, lactation and childcare specialist at Grupo Wellness Latina shared updated information about the challenges for organizations on issues related to maternity in different stages: pregnancy, child birth and children in school. Companies that facilitate resources to support families in such stages benefit their employees as well as the business, according to Silvia.
This panel was subdivided in two rounds. The first one was moderated by Ariel Kievsky, Director de la Especialización y Maestría en RRHH, Escuela de Administración y Negocios. Universidad de San Andrés. The speakers were the following: María José Gomez Silva, Commercial Director for Latin America and Canada at Novartis; Daniela Mora Simoes, Director of Gestión & Desarrollo de Personas at Grupo Omint y Federico Spoturno, Member of international HR committee (Latin American & Caribbean Region) at Nestlé.
For the second round, the moderator was Mariana Lome, Director of Programa en Organizaciones sin fines de lucro Universidad de San Andrés. Presentations were given by Paula Altavilla, Latin America South Region Director Whirpool; Andrea Rodius, OTC Leader LAA South Region at Dow Argentina; Ana Laura Peña, Responsible of HR Benefits for Argentina, Chile, Colombia, CostaRica and Perú at Accenture and Paola Argento, Latin America South Region Director at YPF.
The principal practices presented by the speakers were:
- Extended maternity leaves
- Extension of paternity leave
- Flexible work policies
- Home office / telecommuting options
- Reimbursement of child care services
- Coaching during pregnancy
- Mentoring Programs: Women mentors of women
- Employee Assistance Programs
- Lactation rooms
- Workshops for men and women about unconscious bias
To end the Conference Nancy Board and Karina Müller from GW4W, mentioned the pending issues related to women´s wellbeing:
- Women have different health and wellbeing challenges than men. We need to better understand why.
- Barriers for women succeeding are different than for men.
- Women still provide majority of the care giving to children and aging parents/family. We need better support.
- Most health research has been done on men and male animals. Women have different physiology.
- Women, on average, get 20% less pay than their male counterparts. Financial stability impacts health and wellbeing.
- Depression and Anxiety is 2 times more prevalent in women than in men.
As final comment, Nancy outlines the need of increasing awareness in organizations, providing more trainings as well as generating solutions to support child and elder care responsibilities. Women represent 50% of the labor force, so it is crucial that next generations receive more support from organizations.