Michaela Bakala’s foreword – Top Czech Women 2015

January 27, 2016
The 11th annual edition of the TOP Czech Women contest was in a certain way exceptional. Although, I don’t actually like using the word “contest”. As it is not so much about competing, it is more about appreciation. But what made this year special? The fact that we decided to pursue a natural expansion of the TOP Czech Women survey. Not only did we search for women who are an asset to Czech business, we also looked for those who prove rewarding for our whole society. Reflecting tangible instances of corporate social responsibility from the companies and institutions which these successful women work for was an additional priority for us in the selection process. So things did not only turn on the attained career position; the added value of the personality as such, and the overall impact of the assessed woman, were also important. From the more than three hundred nominees, the expert judges chose 25 TOP Women of Czech business and, in a new feature of the compiled results, also 25 women who are successfully profiling themselves in the public sphere. This development too made the evaluation of the chosen candidates somewhat more demanding this year than it was in the past. Within the publishing house, we had a long debate with the jury over the means of selection and the evaluation criteria. Review the results for yourself. It is certainly worthwhile giving some thought to them and discussing the outcome because the Czech Republic can be truly proud of its successful women. A female Czech manager, director, entrepreneur, politician, scientist or patron is no longer a rarity, and I hope that we have contributed a little to making that a fact. Still, it seems to me that there should be even more women serving in managerial and public sphere roles. We are not doing well enough in comparison to other European countries. Why is that? I believe that increasing the amount of respect and trustworthiness shown towards capable women is a natural process in our society, a process that is moving in the right direction. Is it therefore truly necessary to speed things up with directives? Society is rather divided on this point. I am, however, convinced that it is good thing to air and discuss women’s roles and their professional employment and successes. We should value how we still live in a free and open society and how we are not obstructed from obtaining education and life experiences both at home and abroad. Developments in recent times have also been apparent in relation to collisions between cultures which have distinctly different approaches to women and minorities, frequently cruel approaches. In my eyes, it is important to build relations between men and women on the basis of a partnership, and in no way on a foundation of differences and rivalry. We should also not forget that the way both sexes treat each other largely stems from our families. Us women have a marked influence on the family, the upbringing of the children and, in that case, on the future of us all. It surely follows that we should value the men who accompany us through our personal and working lives. Without many of them, we would not today be what we are. It goes without saying that without courage and positive belief in oneself the majority of successes would not at all be attainable. I therefore want for the start of the year to mainly wish all Czech women – though not only them, of course – lots of self-confidence, strength and determination. I hope that they can add more courage to our society as a whole. It is solely a self-confident society that will manage to take on new, until now unfamiliar challenges and successfully negotiate them. Allow me to thank the organizers, partners and all those who have contributed to bringing visibility to the successes of women in Czech business and public life. I would also like to thank all those greatly valued and successful ladies who have participated in our survey. I very much appreciate your attitudes to life and your life stories. Congratulations! Michaela Bakala

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