Women bring a needed talent in Human Resource Management

02 Apr 2011 02:10 | admin newsletter (Administrator)

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Women bring a needed talent in Human Resource Management!
An interview by Alessandra Zocca

Roberto Carlini

Mr. Roberto Carlini - head of the "Recruitment and End of Service" Unit of the Directorate General for Human Resources and Security of the European Commission - was interviewed by Alessandra Zocca (PWI).

PWI – Mr Carlini,you are heading the HR Unit "Recruitment and End of Service", which employs many women. Could you please tell us more about the percentage of women in your unit and more generally across the European Commission?

Mr. Carlini – According to the HR Report 2010, around 50% of employees are women of which more than 25% hold senior management positions. At “Board” level,  the European Commission has 9 women out of 27 Commissioners.

Within the whole Commission, the percentage of female staff for HR management reaches 80%while in my unit it is 90%; Indeed HR management is the third most women-intensive function in the EC, following Medical & Social Care and Secretariat & support functions.

The "Recruitment and End of Service unit" runs an annual operational budget of about 20 Million Euros and deals with about 3000 recruitment files per year. It counts about 6O employees in Belgium and Luxemburg and has recently been organised into 5 sectors (*) and 1 taskforce - three of them headed by women and three by men.

PWI – Impressive figures!  Are these percentages consistent across all the EU countries?

Mr. Carlini – Actually, the latest enlargement processes for the European Union (**) has brought about some changes to the traditional picture. Indeed, many more women with a strong scientific background have joined the EC. In some ways, it seems that the majority of female applicants for a HR management career originates from  the "Western" members countries, where the individual's genuine "passion" for people, is probably  also supported by a common tradition in this business community.


Roberto Carlini and his team

 Mr. Roberto Carlini and his Team

PWI - In your opinion, why are women so attracted by a career in HR management?

Mr. Carlini – For a number of reasons; basically managing human resources allows first of all regular contact with people, which is never monotonous. It also includes a balanced mix of rules and exceptions where a high level of judgment is required. Women, I have work with, in general, enjoy the possibility to demonstrate their high standards of professionalism and ethics, but they also appreciate the opportunity offered by HR management to be creative.

PWI – Roberto, could you please provide an overview of the tasks which the Recruitment Unit employees are involved with? What are the main challenges for the Recruitment Unit?

Mr. Carlini – Sure. The mission of this Unit is to guarantee an optimal recruitment for the whole EC (i.e. hiring the best resources at the right time for the right job), optimising the recruiting processes and setting the appropriate recruitment policies.
Our main challenge is the effective implementation of the "zero growth" policy for resources in a difficult social and economic environment for the whole EU.

PWI – How do you value gender diversity?

Mr. Carlini – Mixed teams are the best option, because they bring strengths from both genders, and increase people’s areas of improvement. Gender balance is one of the main pluses for the European Commission and a key factor in reaching its business objectives.

PWI – During your career and in your current position, have you noticed any significant differences between women’s and men’s behaviour and performance at work?

Mr. Carlini – I have to confess that on average the individual quality of women’s work is outstanding. I mean that ladies demonstrate high standards of competency, integrity, professionalism/reliability, ethics, quality orientation, and are willing to improve. Women‘s contribution has an essential and irreplaceable value.
On the other hand, I notice that at first women sometimes struggle or they are not comfortable at working in teams prefering their role as individuals, rather than as a team member. Of course there are several exceptions, but it tends to be more based on friendship or alliances. In other words, women seems to approach problem solving as an individual exercise, rather than a collective effort.
Additionally, women, despite good relationships with their female colleagues, tend to become more competitive and need to get their contributions noticed and recognised by their boss more than men.

PWI – What are the challenges for a male boss in leading women?

Mr. Carlini – I believe that four fundamental actions have to be put in place:

  • Inspire them with ambitious objectives to demonstrate that their boss believes in their potential

  • Provide growth opportunities through training, team work and project management

  • Lead by example: show them the ability to manage diversity and effective competencies management

  • Reward and celebrate results by promoting a woman’s visibility and career based on merit

PWI – What are your key recommendations for women aiming at "Board" positions?

Mr. Carlini – In a nutshell, this is my advice:

  • Demonstrate your vision and your ability to implement it

  • Dare to accept challenges

  • Invest in competencies and team work

  • Manage human resources effectively

  • Be flexible and positive in the change process and quickly recognise the opportunities it might bring.

In just a word I would say: Show "leadership".


Mr. Roberto CARLINI has been head of the "Recruitment and End of Service" Unit of the Directorate General for Human Resources and Security of the European Commission since July 2010. During his professional career, he has also been head of the internal audit, head of a large operational unit in the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra, Italy, and manager of a multinational consulting firm in Italy and in the UK.  His current projects focus on Business Process Re-engineering and policy making in the HR domain.

(*)     1. Recruitment of officials and temporary agents in Brussels, 2. Recruitment of Contract Agents in Brussels, 3. Recruitment of Seconded National Experts and Interim staff, 4. All recruitment operations and end of service in Luxembourg, 5. Relations with EPSO, Competitions and Selections, Task Force for internal competitions
(**) Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania

Disclaimer - Any views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of DG HR/European Commission, nor do they constitute a legally binding agreement.

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