The Covid-19 pandemic represents an unprecedent challenge for people, governments and companies all over the world. This study focuses on the Italian context and analyses the reaction of women-led companies to the severe reduction of revenues they faced after the outspread of the pandemic. We adopted an exploratory qualitative approach and focused on companies that implemented a pro-active strategy to cope with the economic downturn. Using secondary data extracted from newspapers and magazines and following a standard content-analysis procedure, we built a database of 378 Italian companies that in the period immediately following the outbreak of the pandemic (from March to May 2020) converted their production processes to realize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hand sanitizers and disinfectants. Results indicate that converted companies led by women are smaller than male-led ones; they are concentrated in the Center and North of the country, and mostly produce in the Textiles and wearing apparel sector. Moreover, to convert the production lines, they have established partnerships with other companies/organizations almost in the same proportion of male ones proving to be well integrated in the production system of the country. Women-led companies have also demonstrated a great attention to the need of the entire society, and more than male-led companies have implemented CSR activities. Comparison with data referred to female-led companies in Italy indicates that converted companies are bigger than the average Italian ones and more than the average adopt the legal form of corporation. Our results shed a light on the peculiarities of female companies and on their reaction to an economic crisis. Moreover, our findings increase the understanding of the role of women entrepreneurs in the economy and provide information for policy maker useful to identify policies and programs to support women's participation in economic activities and enhance their entrepreneurial attitude.

Covid-19 Pandemic and Women-Led Companies: An Exploratory Study of the Italian Context

Di Stefano, Cristina
;
Fratocchi, Luciano
2022

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic represents an unprecedent challenge for people, governments and companies all over the world. This study focuses on the Italian context and analyses the reaction of women-led companies to the severe reduction of revenues they faced after the outspread of the pandemic. We adopted an exploratory qualitative approach and focused on companies that implemented a pro-active strategy to cope with the economic downturn. Using secondary data extracted from newspapers and magazines and following a standard content-analysis procedure, we built a database of 378 Italian companies that in the period immediately following the outbreak of the pandemic (from March to May 2020) converted their production processes to realize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hand sanitizers and disinfectants. Results indicate that converted companies led by women are smaller than male-led ones; they are concentrated in the Center and North of the country, and mostly produce in the Textiles and wearing apparel sector. Moreover, to convert the production lines, they have established partnerships with other companies/organizations almost in the same proportion of male ones proving to be well integrated in the production system of the country. Women-led companies have also demonstrated a great attention to the need of the entire society, and more than male-led companies have implemented CSR activities. Comparison with data referred to female-led companies in Italy indicates that converted companies are bigger than the average Italian ones and more than the average adopt the legal form of corporation. Our results shed a light on the peculiarities of female companies and on their reaction to an economic crisis. Moreover, our findings increase the understanding of the role of women entrepreneurs in the economy and provide information for policy maker useful to identify policies and programs to support women's participation in economic activities and enhance their entrepreneurial attitude.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/183462
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