Italian managers?  There are too few and only a quarter are women –

Italian managers? There are too few and only a quarter are women –

Lights and shadows, comments Mario Mantovani, President of Manageritalia, presenting the results of his organization’s latest management report. It contains data on the Italian case and as a year of economic activity draws to a close it is worth trying to formulate an assessment on the subject. In the double key either master data statistics or reference to systemic effects and effectiveness of management performance. Manageritalia’s research relates only to the private sector (manufacturing and services), uses various other surveys and databases, provides us with a cross-section of executive and middle manager activities and ultimately sends a heartfelt message (if not an SOS): more managers are needed than today. Also because the shadows seem to outweigh the light. But before we jump to conclusions, let’s take a look at the statistics.

From a professional point of view, Italian managers represent 3.6% of the total workforce. A percentage that places us among the three European countries with which it is more meaningful to compare. France reaches 6.8%, Germany 4.2% and Spain also surpasses us with 4.1%. But not done yet. The absolute majority of our managers (53%) are over 50 years old (while the percentage of over 50s in the total number of employees is 39%). The data are quite similar to Germany but indicate higher seniority compared to France and Spain which end at 45%. A significant proportion of Italian managers – less than 10% – are over 65s. Also in this case we are not a country for young people and we note a low propensity of the system to invest in the new generations and their ability to innovate, explains Mantovani.

The gender gap

The painful notes don’t stop at young people: they come too when we move on to analyzing the genre by age. Only a quarter of every 100 managers are women, with the gap being particularly large in the 50 to 65 age group. This is also likely due to a lower average retirement age for women, the report says. Here, too, the comparison with France does not help us: the transalpine gender difference is significantly smaller. On average, women in Italy become managers earlier than men, which may indicate that more emphasis has been placed on gender equality in corporate behavior in recent years. At the same time, however, it is becoming more difficult for women to retain managerial positions, the report warns. For women, however, this earnings would be enough, says Mantovani, because the companies that employ the most women turn out to be better performers in terms of profitability, market share and labor productivity.

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Estimating the total number of Italian managers at 600,000, of which around 121,000 are on managerial contracts and the rest are middle managers, 68.6% are located in the north. Lombardy alone reaches 38% of managers and 43% of Italian executives. Less than 30% of executives (including middle managers) are women, while the percentage of female executives is only 20%. Even if one examines the region of origin of Italian managers, their Nordic character becomes clear. Not even the big central-southern cities like Rome, Naples, Palermo, Catania or Bari can keep up with the northern provinces when it comes to the education of the ruling class.

The proportions

In summary, Italian companies are largely run by managers residing in northern Italy, men and adults. It is true that in the north we find most of the multinationals and medium-sized companies that use managerial skills – says Mantovani – but in the south, and not only there, the presence of medium-sized and small companies weighs heavily, 70% of which are family-run and do not rely on outsiders. However, the report also provides data on another, counterintuitive, so to speak, trend. In the company size class between 10 and 20 employees, the number of employees coordinated by a manager is nine. In the upper classes, the number of employees per manager increases to 15, then to 28 and explodes to 60 in the size class over 250 employees It shows how in larger companies the level of responsibility and the coordination of employees by individual managers increases. The explanation could lie in the likely greater use of consulting-type contracts to cover actual managerial roles, but in any case the increase in employees per manager seems significant. And it makes Mantovani say that the hierarchical structure of Italian companies tends to become flatter.

The relationship

By creating fewer management levels, the company monitors employees less, promotes their involvement in the decision-making process, improves the speed of communication, but suffers from the lack of a reference person and clarity about the specific role as a counterweight. However, the decision to go flat appears to have been made and this trend is being driven by the service sector, which has very high employee-to-manager ratios in large companies. From quantities we move on to qualities. Is there a connection between the manager index and company performance? Do companies with multiple managers perform better? The answer that emerges from the report – apparently ignoring Manageritalia as the party’s representative organization – is positive. When there are proportionately more managers, average salaries are higher, ROA is higher, market share is larger, labor productivity is the same, and companies have more assets on average. Each additional percentage point of managers is worth +0.64% of average salary, 3.4% of labor productivity and +0.84% ​​of intangible assets.

However, it must be said that these results are again driven by the group of top 10% companies, while the worst 10% companies all have negative or non-zero data. An international comparison could not be missing from the report. In a world ranking of the use of typical managerial skills, Italy is below the middle line, led by Denmark, Sweden and Finland. The gap to the top of the class is extremely large, but Mantovani says we are within the European usage average and the same is true for other countries like the US and the UK. A speech for it, which even in the best interpretation only affects the private sphere: In public administration, it would be desirable to make more use of managerial skills in order to promote the realization of all Pnrr projects.

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