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Frontpage News 2016 Changing women’s role in the Spanish society

Marta and Gabriela are part of 'Promociona' which focuses on female empowerment in Spain. The project is dedicated to promoting women into decision-making positions in companies. Photo Credit: FMO / Maria Knoph Vigsnaes

Changing women’s role in the Spanish society

  • "'Promociona' helped me feel more confident as a leader. I believe in myself after they gave me coaching and mentoring. I used to be more insecure and humble as a female leader." 

    These are the words of Marta Lamas Sanchez (45), Head of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at BT Global Services. She is one of the 186 women participating in the 'Promociona' project funded through the EEA Grants in Spain. The project is developed by the Spanish Confederation of Business and Organization (CEOE), and works to strengthen gender equality and work-life balance. By identifying female talents in leadership and developing the women through a tailor-made programme, the project is dedicated to promoting women into decision-making positions in companies.

    To date, 25% of the participants have already been promoted.

    "I am here. I can do this"

    "Through training at the business school and coaching we are empowered. The mentors make you believe that you can be whoever you want, and you start saying "I am here. I can do this". Everyone is pushing you in a very constructive way that makes you believe in yourself," says Marta Lamas Sanchez, who is now the Head of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at BT Global Services.

    Marta joined 'Promociona' in 2014 and is one of the 25 percent who have been promoted and given more responsibility. She has reflected a lot on how the project affected her as a leader.

    "In the beginning I was thinking: Is this project for me? There must be someone else who is more qualified? But after having received business training and mentoring, I got confident and started acting as if I deserved to be there," says Marta. 

    ES04-0007 After two periods including 186 participants, 25 percent of the women have been promoted. Photo credit: CEOE


    The participants in the 'Promociona' project have been carefully selected. Before they apply they need to meet certain criteria such as at least 15 years of professional experience; have a position with responsibility; and also have a formal academic education.

    "They have to go through a comprehensive academic programme in management skills, as well as English and leadership tests," says Gabriela Uriarte Taberna, Deputy Director of Training and Promote at CEOE. 

    ES04-0007 (2) After joining Promociona, the women started networking to ensure that more Spanish women are promoted to decision-making positions in companies. Photo Credit: CEOE

    After two successful periods of ‘Promociona’, the hashtag “SoyPromociona” is frequently used on social media among the participants and supporters.

    During autumn 2015, 'Promociona' launched their third initiative to promote women to senior management positions.

    The choice of children

    'Promociona' is just one step towards changing women’s role in the Spanish professional business community. Marta, a mother of two, thinks the main challenge is that women are worried they will no longer be able to take care of their children.

    "I was thinking: How am I going to manage this? You have to talk with your partner and tell him that you need his help with the children. It's a big change in the traditional family structure. In general I think that Spanish women would rather have children than a career," says Marta.

    Gabriela Uriarte Taberna thinks that it is not only a matter of the company but a matter of society and how they look at working women. 

    "In Spain, men are allowed to take paternity leave for ten weeks, but they rarely do," says Gabriela.

    When Marta had children, the company gave her the opportunity to work more flexible hours.

    "The company didn’t penalise me for working fewer hours for a period of time. It’s difficult to prioritise, but I think it’s good for the children that mom works, and that they think that I am someone important," she concludes.

    Read more about the Spanish 'Gender equality and work life balance' programme

    Read more about the EEA Grants to Spain


  • Country:


    Project title:

    Raising awareness, training , professional growth, the development of leadership and the promotion of women and of women managers in the business community in order to facilitate their access to decision-making positions within their companies

    Project number:


    Priority sector:

    Human and Social Development


    € 680000



    Project promoter:

    Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations

    Type of Institution:

    Employers' organization

    Project duration:

    30 months

    Project cost:

    € 941,176

    Grant from:

    EEA Grants

    The project aims to raise awareness of businesses, to train a significant number of talented women to expand their management skills to improve their access to positions of greater responsibility in their companies, and create an environment to favor breaking the glass ceiling of women, all driven from within their own businesses organizations, thus contributing to the overall goal of achieving a greater number of women managers in the management committees and boards of companies in Spain.The "Project Promoter" is the CEOE, the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations. To develop the project from CEOE, its partners and the involved Business School will seek the participation of listed companies, large, medium and small businesses from multi-sector level throughout the country. The long term general objective of the project is to achieve a greater number of women executives in Spanish companies’ steering committees and management boards. The project is also intended to drive cultural change.