It is international women’s day: is there a reason to celebrate?



Every year, the Commission, like many organisations, the International Women’s Day on March the 8th.

Is the 2014 edition a reason to celebrate at the European Commission? One year ago, the Commission invited Anne-Marie Slaughter to inspire us. She told us that for an organisation to be efficient it is results that count, the place and the time of work should be less important.

Where are we now? The Commission has refocused its approach on time and place indeed. It now controls where we work and how long we work. This is the main novelty in our staff policy. Has anyone told Mrs Slaughter what we did with her inspirational ideas?

Should we celebrate? Why not! Let us not give up on the Commission’s female talents, let's show that it is by making the most of the talents of staff, and not their conformity to a time clock, that will lead to result.

The Commission’s female talent can be untapped further. Flexibility helps women (and men) to organize their lives and work better, and can make the Commission better.

Negotiations on the implementation of the new Staff Regulations have started and so let us seize this occasion to insist on reconsidering the modernisation of staff rules, in particular for women.

TAO-AFI will do its best to introduce new elements to these negotiations in order to take into account women's needs, such us reconciling family life with working life, more flexible working time (including the removal of "core time", an increased access to teleworking, the possibility to register working time carried out outside the workplace), and monitoring of their career development. There is an urgent need to restore women's confidence which has been seriously put at stake by the discriminating 2014 Reform of the Staff Regulations.

To conclude, dear colleagues, on Woman’s Day, TAO-AFI would like to thank you all for all the efforts made during the last year and to invite you to send your suggestions on how we can allow the women at the Commission to both live well and work well.

Tomorrow it is 8 March 2013, another international women's day,

and what have we done?



Women can'thave it all” (…) I believe that we can “have it all at the same time.” But not today, not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured…says Anne Marie Slaughter, Professor at Princeton University and former Director of Policy Planning for the US Department of State, the first woman to hold that position and key note speaker during the equal opportunities campaign organised by DG HR.


We can argue how much of this is true for women working in the EU institutions nowadays: Are we making progress? The response is yes. Is there still room for improvements? Definitely yes!


After decades of equal opportunities strategies in the Commission, we are now at the fifth edition, which aims at ensuring everyone can make the most of their talents, and a respectful and flexible work environment. It sets targets for the number of women in senior and middle management positions and the recruitment of women to AD posts.


So Do we have it all?


More than half of our officials in 2012 were female; female officials make up 66% of AST and 42% of AD non-management positions. Representation of women at senior management level was at 27% (nearly seven times more than in 1995). These figures reflect a favourable though inconclusive evolution. Moreover, female colleagues can now telework and work flexible hours, true, but it is worth saying these rules are nonetheless still not applied generally or sufficiently at the different Directorate Generals.


At the same time, the institutions discuss a reform that intends to raise work hours, introduce restrictions into the flexible work regime and create a new category of secretaries (probably mainly women), who will have to have a suitable correspondence between the level of qualifications and the level of responsibility and of remuneration with a real career plan. We will remain vigilant on a correct implementation of these rules. Flexible working hours usually benefit women more as they predominantly deal with children. This is a reality that has to guide the implementation of these rules.


Perhaps do we have it all is just the wrong question; perhaps the question is what are our priorities ahead? As Dr Slaughter points out, equal opportunities can be reality if we reform our work patterns, but would she have a more challenging work life balance and lower pay for secretaries in mind? Let us not remain condescending with the positive trends so far. This is a permanent struggle that concerns us all.


TAO-AFI would like to thank all women in the Commission who brought their drive and energy to work and spent many hours working in the office to give the best of themselves.

Many of whom on the top of this:
have to reconcile family with working life,
have to balance career and family ambitions,
have just had a baby,
have an older relative to assist,
have less time to spend for themselves… 

These women are keen to keep their commitment to their jobs, even when it means having to juggle work and family life every day. In their support, TAO-AFI looks forward to the implementation of the Commission's strategy on equal opportunities for women and men, aiming to attract, develop and maintain a balanced workforce; promote a more flexible working environment; and ensure ownership of the strategy at the highest level.

TAO-AFI invites Vice president Sefčovič to take this strategy duly on board when pursuing the Reform of staff regulation. By imposing longer working hours and lowering salaries for secretaries, this reform represents a clear discrimination against women in the Commission.

Thanks again!