business, Gender
Yesterday the Parliament hosted a conference on breaking gender stereotypes in small and medium-sized businesses. It brought together female and male entrepreneurs from across Europe to debate and share best practice on how to overcome sexist stereotypes in business.

Such discussions are vital for several reasons. They aim to make the work place fairer for all employees, encouraging people to be recognised for the skills they bring to a business rather than just for their gender. But this conference was also organised in order to help SMEs increase their productivity. It is essential that, especially during an economic downturn, the EU supports its smaller businesses. And smaller businesses can only truly maximise their resources if they allow their staff to flourish with supportive work-life measures for women and men and with equal opportunities for all.

For me, this conference is what Europe is all about: bringing together different national experiences to forge progress across the continent. Notions of ‘intercultural dialogue’ and other EU projects can sometimes seem unconnected with the everyday life of Europe’s citizens. But here is an example of exactly that dialogue in action. It will have a dramatic impact on citizens if it means that work places become fairer and more flexible for both men and women.

Of course, I can never understand why the Tories are so dogmatically eurosceptic. Perhaps if they had attended this excellent meeting they would have seen just how much Britain stands to lose if the Tories take us further away from Europe.

You can find out more about this EU programme here: