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A NOVEL IDEA FOR A BUSINESSWOMAN TO STAY FIT T

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Ladies, have you ever thought of taking a ballet lesson instead of using the gym, while in n Russia? Read our guide to learn more! e! PAGE II GETTY IMAGES

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This special advertising supplement is produced and sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) and did not involve the reporting or editing staff of the International New York Times.

Monday, December 7, 2015

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DESPITE LARGE NUMBER OF FEMALE MANAGERS TION IN RUSSIA, EXPERTS CAUTION THAT WOMEN ARE MOSTLY ACTIVE IN SMALL BUSINESSES How do Russian women thrive in the highly competitive world of business? Read about their keys to success on Page III.

Tina Kaledina is a young consultant working in the male-dominated oil and gas industry. Here, she comments on the challenges. Page III

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Bridging the gender gap Some multilateral organizations evaluate gender equality in Russian business differently than in the Grant Thornton survey. According to the World Bank, there is a large gap between male and female incomes in Russia. On average, women earn 30 percent less than men. Contrasting the Grant Thornton report, the International Labor Organization said in early 2015 that Russia ranks only 25th place when it comes to the proportion of women in managerial roles (39.1 percent). The organization says Jamaica has the highest percentage of female managers (59.3 percent). “We still haven’t reached the normal proportion of 50:50 concerning men and women in business management positions and if we consider that there are more women in Russia than men, then the proportions would not be 50:50 but somewhere around 40:60 in favor of women,” says Elena Yakhontova, professor at the Ranepa Higher School of Business Management. She says there are still significantly fewer female business managers than male.

Small business In small businesses, Yakhontova says, the share of companies that women establish is about 50 percent. “These are owners of an endless number of cafes, bakeries, farms, pharmacies, dental clinics and consulting companies,” she adds. “The origins of discrimination are in the mentality. For now, the prevailing stereotype is that men make better managers.”

Key positions Despite these difficulties, women occupy four key positions in the Russian public arena. According to a rating published by the Ekho Moskvy radio station, the most influential woman in the country is the Chairwoman of the Federation Coun-ment, Valcil, the upper chamber of Russian Parliament, entina Matviyenko. he Russian In second place is the Chairwoman of the rst Deputy Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina. The First d place. The Prime Minister Olga Golodets is in third a is Tatyana fourth most influential woman in Russia Golikova, head of the Account Chamber of Russia, a special government organ responsible for effective budget spending. he Forbes 2015 Only one Russian woman, however, made the he world — Elrating of the most influential women in the vira Nabiullina. The careers of such women are similar.“There are many hontova.“In small female deputies in the ranking,” saysYakhontova. and medium-sized businesses, there are many women in d the positions of leading roles — they simultaneously hold owner and manager.” er in the beginning Nabiullina started her government career of the 2000s as first deputy minister of economic developy economic reforms ment. Her supervisor was the author of key in the 2000s, German Gref. The Account Chamber’s Golikova was working at the same ategist, then Finance time as first deputy of another reform strategist, Minister Alexei Kudrin. neral director of NoGolodets held the position of deputy general rilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel and copper. ost influential women Yakhontova is certain that one of the most ty chairwoman of the in Russian business is Bella Zlatkis, deputy est bank. state-owned Sberbank, the country’s largest ad of Rosimuschestvo, She also mentions Olga Dergunova, head st of the state’s assets. the government organ that manages most ussia and then worked She was also the president of Microsoft Russia ank, VTB. for Russia’s second-largest state-owned bank, In 2002 the Wall Street Journal placed Dergunova on the list of usinesswomen in Europe. the 25 most successful and influential businesswomen g, women still have a long While these success stories are encouraging, way to go in Russia. ■ALEXEY SERGEYEV JOURNALIST

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While Chechen women live in a society managed by age-old, patriarchal traditions, they try to adapt to the modern world, where women doing business is a natural occurrence. Page IV

hile Russia is believed to have the largest proportion of women in senior managerial positions in the world, women are mostly active in small businesses. In the medium and large business segments, they usually work as deputies. According to the ‘Women in Business: From Classroom to Boardroom’ survey carried out by the Grant Thornton auditing firm, Russia has the world’s highest proportion of female top managers. The survey says that women occupy about 40 percent of senior management positions in Russian companies. Georgia is in second place (38 percent) and Poland in third (37 percent). Yet in Japan, women occupy just 8 percent of senior management positions, in Germany 14 percent and in India and Brazil 15 percent. Women in Russia are successful in information technology, retail trade, media, production, transportation, communications and politics, according to the survey, while men occupy the highest positions in the oil, gas, and metallurgical sectors. Globally, the number of female top managers increased from 19 percent in 2004 to 22 percent in 2015.

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Busy girls’ guide to staying fit in Moscow and St. Petersburg

Attention shoppers: Holiday gifts in Moscow and St. Petersburg JOE CRESCENTE SPECIAL TO RBTH

It can happen to anyone. You’re stuck on a last-minute business trip that seems to drag on right up to the holidays. Yet, you still haven’t been able to finish (or begin) your holiday shopping. Those still looking for gifts while in Russia this holiday season can check out this shopping guide for Moscow and St. Petersburg. With the ruble conversion rate for foreign currencies so favorable at the moment, this is an excellent time to stock up on gifts, trinkets and stocking stuffers.

Moscow

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RBTH looks at the best places in Moscow and St. Petersburg for businesswomen (and men) to keep fit. Successful businesswomen in Russia travel a lot and work hard, which creates a demand for services in the health and fitness industry. From skating rinks to sophisticated spas and gyms, Moscow and St. Petersburg have much to offer fitness-conscious women.

MOSCOW The lowdown on skating rinks When temperatures drop below zero Celsius, skating rinks replace parks and bicycle paths in Moscow, turning into an ultimate destination for everybody from teenagers to businesswomen. More than 20 outdoor rinks are open for skaters. Among the true gems are a skating rink in Moscow’s Gorky Park and the largest artificial ice rink in Europe on the main avenue of the All-Russia Exhibition Center (VDNKh). Gorky Park’s all-weather rink is poised to be the most technically advanced public spot in Moscow this winter. Inspired by a dreamland from John Lennon’s legendary song “Imagine,”it boasts 33,000 manageable lightemitting diodes (LEDs) under the ice. Be ready to be gripped by its massive light installations and Christmas atmosphere. If you are here to hone your toe loops and Axel jumps, ask for an instructor’s help. The Russian Guinness Book of records recognized the VDNkh rink as the country’s largest ice-skating venue. While the All-Russia Exhibition Center has had a skating facility for 50 years, in 2014 it was expanded to its current size of 60,000 square meters (646,000 square feet). Last year, guests complained about large crowds but the organizers promise there will be express lanes at the entrance so that up to 4,500 people can enjoy skating at the same time. Both rinks charge $16 for skate rental, while the entrance fees vary from $5 to $8 depending on the time of admission. The rinks are open every day (except Monday) between 10am and 11pm.

An al fresco dip A good morning alternative to run-of-themill gyms is an outdoor swimming pool. To get that exhilarating chill on your skin, take a dip in Chaika lido, conveniently located near Moscow’s Gorky Park. One of the oldest pools in the city, it dates back to the 1950s. Chaika has two modern outdoor heated swimming pools with a comfortable water temperature of 29 degrees Celsius. Apart from these, there is a fitness center with boxing, yoga and aerobics classes, as well as a tennis court, mini-golf and saunas. The best hours

to swim are between 7am and 9am, when the pool is not crowded. Take a look at the venue via its online video camera. A one-day pool pass costs $30, while a onehour pass costs $16. Both cover swimming and indoor sports classes as well as boxing and a sauna. Additionally, visitors will be charged $7 for a mandatory hygiene examination certificate (valid for 3 months). The venue is open between 7am and 10pm Monday to Saturday and 8am to 8pm on Sunday.

Best spa to recoup Moscow, Russia’s epicenter of beauty services, has a plethora of salons and spas, but for those who want something exclusive with a central location, impeccable services and a wide variety of products, try the Iridium Spa inside the St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya hotel. Located in an 18th-century building that was once the residence of Count Orlov-Davydov, Iridium is an ideal place to relax after business meetings. It offers 15 types of massages, including one with warm volcanic stones; hypnotic foot and leg massages, and anti-jet lag massage for frequent flyers. An ideal combination after a busy day is a swimming pool, jacuzzi and revitalizing seaweed facial, followed by rejuvenating massages. If you’re a St. Regis guest, all the spa services (swimming pools, gym and Turkish sauna) are included in the booking. Alternatively, you can make an appointment and buy a spa day pass for $70. Massage price ranges between $60 and $300. Spa facilities are open 24 hours, while spa treatments are available between 10am and 10pm.

Let off steam The legendary Soviet comedy film “The Irony of Fate”starts with a scene in a banya, or bath house, a traditional experience that shouldn’t be missed for those who wish to get an extreme version of a Russian spa. Banya is not just relaxation in a steam house, it is more a ritual when you lie on a wooden bench and your partner beats you with a birch broom, an experience that opens your pores and makes you feel reborn. Moscow’s Sanduny bath house, the oldest public banya in the city, dates back to 1808, when Sila Sandunov, a Russian actor, opened it on Neglinnaya street. Since then, Sanduny has featured in a number of legendary movies by Sergei Eisenstein (“Alexander Nevsky” and “Battleship Potemkin”) as well as in Brat-2 (Brother-2) and “Red Heat,” with James Belushi. This amply decorated venue —like a blend

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of the Pushkin museum and a Roman palace — has sections for both men and ladies. Admission to the ladies’ section costs $30 for three hours. For more privacy, rooms with separate steam houses cost between $123 and $250 for a two-hour stay. Bookings are required. Women’s Sanduny is open from Wednesday to Monday from 8am to 10 pm.

ST. PETERSBURG Ballet for everybody It’s hard to remember a more powerful Russian brand than Russian ballet, with the names of Anna Pavlova and Maya Plisetskaya being long-time trademarks. Attending a Russian ballet is one of the main reasons thousands of foreign tourists travel to Moscow and St. Petersburg. If you’re fascinated by “Swan Lake” in the Mariinsky Theater and are in St. Petersburg for a brief business trip, it could be exciting to take some ballet classes as an alternative to the hotel’s gym in the evening. Isadora ballet school, one of the most popular dance facilities in St. Petersburg, boldly advertises itself as “Ballet for everybody.” Those who are absolute beginners could try the basic classes. All the teachers at Isadora have a performing background and will make participants feel at ease. A single, one-hour class costs $9. Don’t forget to take tights/leotards, a tank top and ballet slippers.

When in St. Petersburg, keep your soul fit Nothing could be more rejuvenating than art and classical music, especially when you’re in St. Petersburg. Shostakovich Academic Philharmonia is a true gem of Russia’s northern capital. Over the course of its 200-year history, the Philharmonia has welcomed Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt, Hector Berlioz and other geniuses who have performed on its stage. Dmitry Shostakovich played his“Leningrad Symphony No. 7” in Philharmonia during the 900day siege of Leningrad (1941-44), along with other famous composers and performers. The venue is always full of upcoming concerts, including the International Winter Festival at Arts Square in December, and events with European composers performing the best of Schubert, Schumann and Bach. Don’t miss this concert hall — it is one of the few ways to keep your soul fit. Tickets to the Philharmonia usually cost between $9 and $30. Online purchase is available on its Web site. ■ANASTASIA MARKITAN

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Chaika has two modern outdoor heated swimming pools with comfortable water temperatures.

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› www.gum.ru

TsUM TsUM, the acronym for the Central Universal Department Store, is another of Moscow’s legendary shopping emporiums. Located across the street from the Bolshoi Theater, TsUM offers expensive, but high-quality wares in a building constructed in the Gothic Revival, or Victorian Gothic style. This shopping center features an enormous selection of top-end footwear, women’s clothing, bags, children’s attire, Apple products and design items for the home. Best for: A classy gift for your children or spouse.

If not for the modern bathrobes, you could confuse yourself for a Romanov in Sanduny’s high-ceilinged palace of marble. The traditional banya has been enhanced to include modern Russian comforts. Every time I look down at the slippers I took from Sanduny, I smile with a happy recollection."

› www.tsum.ru

BREFFNY MORGAN

Detsky Mir Russia’s largest shopping outlet dedicated to children features Legos, Barbies and most other global brands, as well as sports attire, clothing and cribs, seats and other items for new parents. In addition to its numerous locations in Moscow, there are several branches of this store in St. Petersburg as well as in most major cities throughout the country. Best for: Presents for kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces and new parents.

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I was happy to find the coziest patio-style swimming pool in Moscow, in the St. Regis Iridium spa. Divided into two parts — a swimming pool and a whirlpool — it gives you a feeling of a total rejuvenation as you move from the calm waters of the main pool to the warm stormy jacuzzi tub.”

Art Lebedev This shop features a unique array of high-quality artsy gifts crafted by cutting-edge Russian designers. Shoppers don’t have to come with an exact idea in mind, but more likely they should come when they don’t know what to get someone. It’s more than likely this store will have just the right gift. Known for its offbeat and hightech themed magnets, ice trays, key chains and umbrellas, the shop also sells top-end coffees, candies and jams. Best for: Stocking stuffers and small gifts. › store.artlebedev.ru/offline/psm

Art Salon on Starosadsky For those who want to impress, this outlet features a wide assortment of high-end vases, pennants, rings, puppets and dolls, hand-painted lacquer boxes, matreshka dolls, bags and Christmas decorations. While nothing is cheap, the quality is very high and the favorable ruble conversion rate at the moment should help. Much of the jewelry is made using precious jewels and stones. For those looking for something one-of-a-kind, the shop also sells meteorite fragments, including from the one that landed near Chelyabinsk in 2013. Best for: Gifts for lovers of art and the finer things in life. › www.art-gemstones.ru

› www.detmir.ru/

Dulyovsky farfor porcelain factory Those seeking a classy gift for someone special may like this official factory store, which stocks elegant tea sets, mini porcelain statues of the Kremlin and motifs from Russian literature and folklore, decorative plates, bowls and other tableware. The collection is not entirely staid, however, and features numerous quirky options and dining sets for children. Best for: Tea aficionados and little princes that demand porcelain place settings. › dulevo.ru

St. Petersburg

YANA TERSKIKH EVENT MANAGER

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Isadora ballet school is a very special place with an atmosphere of a last century women-only private club. As an absolute beginner, I attended several classes on body ballet and classical ballet techniques. I would recommend it for those who feel bored in a gym and want to try something totally different.”

Passazh The closest thing that St. Petersburg has to GUM (historic shopping outlet), the Passazh shopping gallery was founded in 1848 in the heart of Nevsky Prospect. Shop for top jeans brands, leather goods, cosmetics, handmade gifts, antiques and jewelry under a 180-meter, or 590-foot-long, glass ceiling. To recuperate, take a break at the second floor coffee bar, which offers a splendid view of the premises. Best for: Presents for those that love handmade goods and antiques, clothing and cosmetics. › www.passage.spb.ru

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GUM GUM, which stands for State Department Store, is probably the bestknown outlet in the entire country. In operation for more than 100 years and stretching several hundred meters along one of the Kremlin’s walls, GUM features high-end perfumes, cosmetics, footwear, underwear, watches, eyewear and furs. While the store is crowded around the holidays, it is still worth the trip. Best for: A classy gift for your spouse, colleague or boss.

Lomonosov Porcelain Factory Better known than Dulyovsky’s collections, the Lomonosov factory has more of an imperial feel to its wares. Founded in 1744, its offerings include elegant tableware featuring classic and avant-garde designs, porcelain statues of tigers and polar bears, gorgeous vases and decorative Easter eggs. The factory also take special orders for those who need sophisticated gifts for important people. There are several locations downtown and shops in Moscow and other Russian cities. Best for: VIP gifts, stocking stuffers and elegant table sets.

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Galeria St. Petersburg’s largest mall in the city center features everything from clothes and shoes to electronics, food and alcohol, books and children’s gifts. There are frequent concerts here to keep shoppers and browsers en-

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tertained, and the complex is conveniently open late until 23:00. Many world-renowned brands — such as DKNY, Calvin Klein and Armani — have their own boutiques here. Best for: Those who need to get something for everyone under one roof. › www.galeria-spb.ru

Gostiny Dvor Listed last, but not least, St. Petersburg’s oldest shopping center, Gostiny Dvor, was founded in the mid-1700s and has been depicted in numerous artworks. Its more than 13,000 square meters (140,000 square feet) house gifts large and small, expensive and reasonably priced. A number of highend global fashion brands have set up here, including Versace, Georges Rech and Duchamp, but there are also many good options for those on more limited budgets. There are also many small shops selling crafts and souvenirs. Best for: Whatever is left on your list. › www.bgd.ru


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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES A global media project sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta www.rbth.com

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A woman working in a male-dominated industry VALENTINA KALEDINA PARTNER

If someone is capable of managing, it doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman, says one. Another says women are effective problem-solvers.

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How Russian women succeed in business management Leading businesswomen tell RBTH that the keys to success for female managers in Russia are being client-oriented, persistent and experienced. When it comes to Russia’s economy, experts believe that women are mostly active in consumer-oriented sectors.“A lot depends on the sector in which the company operates,” says Ekaterina Rumyantseva, director of the Kalinka Group, a real estate company. She adds that heavy industry, minerals, construction and agriculture are more male-dominated fields, whereas beauty services, fashion and light industry are mostly suited to women. “There are sectors in the economy, for example real estate, finance, the media, trade, catering and others where men and women can equally succeed,” says Rumyantseva. For instance, managing a real estate business that deals with apartment sales on the secondary market is easier for women, while working with serious investors in the construction market is more of a male job. A manager of a large public relations agency in Moscow who spoke on condition of anonymity said that PR in Russia is generally considered a woman’s field. Yet to work with large companies headed by former armed forces personnel, agencies hire male managers. “Once, we arrived at a meeting and the general director of a large company sat with his back to us the whole time because he did not want to negotiate with a woman,” she says. There are exceptions, however, in the Russian market.“Electrical engineering is a rather conservative and male sector,” says Elena Semenova, general director of Phoenix Contact Rus. “But if you follow certain rules and understand how the sector functions, then it does not matter if the company is managed by a man or a woman,” Phoenix is the Russian branch of a German company that supplies automatic management systems to large oil and gas companies in Russia.

Heavy industry, minerals, construction and agriculture are among the more maledominated professions.

The general director of Basic Element, which manages the assets of the billionaire Oleg Deripaska, is Gulzhan Moldazhanova, who was one of the 25 highest paid managers in Russia in 2015. According to Forbes, her overall income in 2015 is estimated to be $6 million, and she started with the company in 1995 as a secretary. She is the only woman on the list of the country’s highest paid managers. In its four-year history, the Forbes Russia rating has only had one other woman. In 2013, the general director of Nafta Moskva, Anna Kolonchina, earned $6 million. Her company manages the billionaire Suleiman Kerimov’s assets. “Managing a business in Russia is not easy in general, regardless of the gender,”says Irina Dobrokhtova, chair of the Board at BEST-Novostroi, a large construction company. “Perhaps it’s more difficult for women since they always have to combine business and taking care of the family,” she says.“Fortunately, this can be done without either side losing out.” Dobrokhtova says she is capable of balancing work and family life since her husband is also involved in the business. “If someone is capable of managing, it doesn’t matter if it’s a man or a woman,” says Oxana Vrazhnova, chair of the Board at MIEL, the largest network of real estate agencies in Russia. “Nevertheless, there are far fewer female managers, since women, in most cases, must also take care of equally important matters such as looking after the house and family.”

Working mothers earn respect All the women interviewed by RBTH compare business strategy with maternal instincts. “If business is perceived as your own child, then attention to the clients and the satisfaction of

their demands will have the highest importance,”says Kalinka’s Rumyantseva. She is convinced that a woman’s approach to business is client-oriented from the start, as that is what makes the company stable. “Men do business more dynamically,” she says. “For them it is natural at every stage of their personal development to learn new ways to deepen and expand their influence on the market. Which is why today they have one target audience, tomorrow another and the day after, yet another.” Rumyantseva says that her company has successfully worked in the elite real estate market for 16 years, while peer companies established by men either closed down or changed their profiles, since their owners took an interest in politics or were absorbed by construction or banking businesses. “There is strong competition in our business,”says BEST-Novostroi’s Dobrokhtova.“We try to win major tenders, and when I come to these tenders, I am usually surrounded by men.” She is certain that her solid experience helps her compete equally with men. As evidence of her success, Dobrokhtova has built 39 residential complexes in Moscow. Rumyantseva says when she first started working, businessmen avoided discussing serious issues with her, but with time that attitude has changed. Vrazhnova says the respect that working mothers enjoy in Russia is an advantage when managing. “Very often it is women who find a common language with clients, since they can identify and understand the demand quicker than men, and they can also propose a more effective way of solving problems,”she explains. She adds that age is much more important than gender. “Even a very successful 25 to 30-year-old woman may not always evoke trust. It needs to be earned and deserved. But when the client finds out that I have three children, then some issues are left out or are resolved faster.” ■ALEXEI LOSSAN RBTH

y foreign friends often ask if it is difficult for me, as a young woman, to work in the energy sector, where a lion’s share of the top-management is comprised of men. Sometimes I feel like agreeing with their misconception that women are sidelined in Russia. However, this is not true. Even in sectors that have been traditionally dominated by men — such as minerals, energy and infrastructure — there are quite a few women in managerial positions. Of course, women comprise just 15 to 20 percent of the work force in these sectors. In my industry, women enjoy the same rights in Russia as they do in other parts of the world. Plus, there is less competition in Russia than in other countries, which gives everyone the opportunity to find their niche. Here, gender is really not that important. It is more important to prove that you are a professional. Based on my own experience, I feel that women benefit from the fact they have a more subtle understanding of human psychology and the ability not to panic in difficult circumstances. I spend a lot of time in Russia’s energy-rich regions in western Siberia, a beautiful and harsh territory. On my first business trip there, I joined a group of engineers on a helicopter ride to view pipelines that were several hundred miles apart. On the way back, we were admiring the picture-perfect autumn Siberian forest. But 40 minutes into the flight, my colleagues started to panic. We were flying longer than planned because the pilots, who wanted to take a short cut, got lost. Under us was the endless taiga, and fuel was running out. My male colleagues were worried and I had to calm them down. This helped us find our way out. Another time, in minus 35 degree Celsius (minus 31 Fahrenheit) weather, our car broke down somewhere between Surgut and Noyabrsk, and the other car was four hours away. My only concern was about missing the next morning’s meeting. I had to cheer up my male colleagues, who, seeing how tranquil I was, also calmed down. After several incidents in Siberia, I quickly learned to adapt to every situation. In Russia working with men, especially in an energy company, a woman is required to be professional, patient and tough. This concerns not only business trips, but the working process itself. Sometimes no one listens to you. But in most cases, this is not because you are a woman, but because your solution is not acceptable. Sometimes in the heat of an argument a woman can even be rudely told to“Shut up!” But again, not because she is a woman. I seldom raise my voice, but sometimes in a meeting with men I can speak with a high pitch. This is considered normal. It also happens that a woman’s decision at first seems illogical but in the end is better and the men admit it. If there were just a few more women in the Russian corporate world, we would have more obvious and advantageous solutions to dayto-day problems. Since we do not have quotas for women in top management, Russia works according to the principle of harsh selection, in which women participate with men on equal terms.

M

The writer is a partner at Strikitsa Consulting, a global human resources company with a special focus on the BRICS countries.

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RUSSIA BEYOND THE HEADLINES A global media project sponsored by Rossiyskaya Gazeta www.rbth.com

Patriarchy still reigns in Chechnya

Every weekend there is a wedding in the Chechen village of Achkhoy-Martan. People dance before an open fire, but the bride is conspicuously absent. She waits quietly all day in a corner of the groom’s house. Her mother before her also waited in a similar corner, as did her grandmother, as likely will her daughter and, perhaps, her granddaughter. Yet maybe this tradition will change. We have come to the house of Amina, a Chechen woman, who tells us about modern youth here. “They wear make up — in moderation, in my opinion. They wear short skirts, a bit above their knees — and if you can believe it — in Grozny, the bride even dances at her own wedding.” Amina’s daughter-in-law has baked cakes from corn flour, and is setting the table. When Amina’s son took a liking to the young woman, Amina went “to check her out.” Amina did not care whether the girl was tall or short, fat or thin. The most important concerns were whether the potential bride was modest or not, and who her parents were. Amina herself married late by Chechen standards — she was 18. Her husband’s relatives had come and arranged it. And Amina’s father gave his consent. “Did you like your fiancé,” I ask Amina. “Well, how should I put this? Probably not. But I was forced. I had finished school and dreamt of continuing my studies. I wanted to become a seamstress. No one ever wants to get married. It’s a difficult job. When I was taken away I cried. It took me two years to adapt. I ironed, cleaned, prepared the table for them, and cursed everything in silence. I told myself: “You’re not the first and not the last. Be firm. So it must be.” Amina believes that her heart is now the strongest muscle in her body. It has hardened, she says, and almost turned to stone. We walk out into the courtyard and stand by the barn. The grass is covered with manure patties. “You can’t imagine how we lived our lives,” she says calmly, without complaining.“Every day there were bombings, airplanes. I was asking myself why did I have children — they don’t see anything positive anyway. Children. When our children were killed, we stood by with stone faces. You can’t scream. Everything must be held inside. That’s the custom.”

REUTERS

Women in the predominantly Muslim region in the Northern Caucasus are pressured to conform to age-old, complex traditions.

This image is used for illustrative purposes only.

but then she told herself: “Don’t be ashamed in front of people. People won’t feed your children. Who’ll pay you?” A working woman is a disgrace for a man. It means he was not able to feed her. But the war, as they say in Chechnya, turned everything upside down. Men — who were humiliated at the checkpoints in the presence of women and children — could no longer find work. After the war, women began to view work differently. In Rostov, Nurbika’s daughter started distributing cosmetics. Nurbika decided to help her, and on New Year’s Eve in 1999, she started selling cosmetics in Grozny. It was incredible — war was raging, but the women bought everything. In one week Nurbika earned 20,000 rubles (then $600), and as soon as the war ended she opened a salon and a billiards club. All her children went to university. She built a new house to replace the old one, which was destroyed. Men respect her.

A rare businesswoman Tomorrow there will be a wedding. I don’t know the bride, groom or the family. I’ll go there without an invitation. Today the bride can be found in the beauty parlor. At Golden Scissors, in the center of Grozny, you can hear women laughing. The hair dryers are rattling. Mostly widows work here. The parlor is owned by a widow, a tall woman in black. Her name is Nurbika. The shelves in her cabinet are filled with cosmetics. Nurbika is a rare businesswoman in Chechnya. For 25 years Nurbika worked as a head teacher in a school. Before the Second Chechen War, (1999-2009) her husband, also a teacher, died in a car accident. When the war broke out, Nurbika moved her five children to Rostov and returned to Chechnya to work in a market, since no one would hire her in Rostov. When she saw some acquaintances at the market she hid under the counter in shame,

Dodging snipers

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In Urus-Martan, I’m at the home of a man named Biberd, who has a high-ranking job at the Interior Ministry. At the table are his mother, wife and two daughters, who have already finished school. His mother seems to be very old — heavy work and many children make Chechen women age faster. A Chechen woman’s life is easier when she is old. This is when her daughter-in-law does all the work. Biberd’s wife, Luisa, sits quietly — she still has years to live before she gets old. In 1999, Biberd, wearing a white shirt and a white sheepskin coat, left home, saying,“I’ll be back tomorrow.” He did not return, neither the next day, nor the day after. And for many months his old mother waited for him on a bench in front of the house. Sometimes she would go to town and ask everyone if they had seen her son.

THE QUOTE

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When our children were killed, we stood by with stone faces. You can’t scream. Everything must be held inside. That’s the custom.”

AMINA A CHECHEN WOMAN

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The woman is not allowed to call her husband by his name. The bride cannot call her husband’s close relatives by their names. This is from the tribal system.”

EDILBEK MAGOMADOV ETHNOGRAPHER

Roots of Chechnya Edilbek Magomadov is an ethnographer from the Culture Ministry and a connoisseur of Chechen traditions. During the war he would be stopped at the checkpoints and asked to remove his pants — to show his knees. Knees that are intact prove that a man did not crawl on the ground with a rifle in his hands. For a Chechen man, just being stopped is insulting, let alone other indignities. “The modern Chechen nation was formed after the sun set on the Golden Horde,”Mago-

Moscow 2016: Events DEC. 12, 2015  JAN. 11, 2016 THE JOURNEY TO CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL

MAY NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM FESTIVAL

36 festival spots will pop up in Moscow Each Christmas market will have stands, open stages and street theaters. The Russian Santa Claus, Ded Moroz, will entertain with songs and dances.

More than 250 cultural institutions will remain open late into the night — museums, galleries and art corners.

MA

“Yes, we did,” she heard many times.“He was lying bleeding on the snow.” “He said he’d return,” says Luisa, a woman who is faithful to Chechen traditions: it is forbidden to call your husband by his name. “One, two, three, four to the right, one, two, three, four to the left, one, two, three…,” Biberd said, as he ran away from an Arab sniper. He was running through the snow, a Russian flag in his hands, toward a Grozny school that was an outpost for Russian soldiers. “In the army, they taught us that even the best sniper aims for six seconds,”explains Biberd. “You count to four then turn right, again to four and turn left.” Biberd reached the school and the sniper missed his target, who managed to get to the roof and crawled till he hoisted the Russian flag. The flag was shot down, but Biberd raised it over his head again. “It would be incorrect to say I was afraid,” he says. “When you take on such a mission, they say that you think of your life, your family… No, it’s not true. You have only one goal — reach the place and put up the flag. It is Chechen pride.” When Biberd finally did return, there were no embraces, no small talk. Luisa only looked at him, suppressed a sigh and set the table. In this Chechen family, as in others, emotions are kept inside.

On this day, Russia marks the end of the Second World War. The main events will be a military parade in Red Square and celebrations on Poklonnaya Hill, where the WWII museum is located.

This retro-style festival will replicate the Soviet era. Sixteen fairs will sell the best products from all the Russian regions and former Soviet Republics.

OGONYOK

SEPTEMBER CIRCLE OF LIGHT

Moscow will be decorated with art installations, and festival-goers can buy a variety of delicious jams and sweets in the many tents.

Light designers and 2-D and 3-D graphics professionals will use the city’s architecture as a screen to project their multimedia and light installations.

....

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MAY MOSCOW SPRING FESTIVAL

■MARINA AKHMEDOVA

MAY SUMMER JAM FESTIVAL

SEPT

JA N U A R Y MAY 9 VICTORY DAY

madov explains. “Sometime in the 15th century, the Chechens returned to the plains from the mountainous areas. The plains then belonged to the Kumyk and the Kabardinian tribes. This is why the colonization of the area until the 17th century led to a never-ending war, in which every family participated.” Family relations were built on the indisputable authority of the elders. In order to preserve this authority, family members of various generations maintained a big distance from each other. Especially with the father. The woman became the decision-maker in the family. To preserve his authority, the father had to maintain a distance with his children. Chechen children never call him “father.” They give him a home name.” Magomadov adds,“Many Chechen customs are derived from these old times. There is a taboo on the name. The woman is not allowed to call her husband by his name. The bride cannot call her husband’s close relatives by their names. This is from the tribal system.” But there are compensations, he explains. In order for a young bride to start speaking with you, for example, you must first give her a gift. “But with all these burdensome formalities can a Chechen woman really be happy,” I ask. “Oh and how! You only see the formal side. But the wife, for example, invents funny names for her husband.” Tell me, he says, is the Chechen woman belligerent? “In a traditional Chechen society, men would feel humiliated if their womenfolk used weapons. If a woman’s close relatives were all killed, her neighbors would stand up for her. If the neighbors were also killed, villagers would take over. She does not take part in the bloody feud. If she kills someone, revenge will be taken not on her but on her husband, brother or father. And so continue the traditions.”

MAY 622 THE WORLD ICE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP The 80th anniversary championship will be held in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Sixteen national teams will compete in the event. The final will be held in the Russian capital.

2017

EMBER

SEPT. 34 MOSCOW CITY DAY The city will turn 869 years old. Concerts, shows and theatrical performances will be staged in the city’s central squares, streets, boulevards, embankments and parks.

AUG. 27 SEPT. 4 THE SPASSKAYA TOWER INTERNATIONAL MILITARY MUSIC FESTIVAL Russian and foreign military bands, folklore groups and honor guards will exhibit their skills on the Red Square.

Woman Doing Business in Russia  
Woman Doing Business in Russia  

This new issue of the RBTH supplement was distributed with The International New York Times on December 7, 2015

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