Women between motherhood and career in Italy: Fashion designer Elisabetta Franchi’s declarations unveiling the truth

Women between motherhood and career in Italy: Fashion designer Elisabetta Franchi’s declarations unveiling the truth
Photo source: Dante Besana via Flickr


Laura Libertini

Europe and Human Rights Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence

On May 4th, 2022, Milan hosted the “Donna e Moda: il barometro 2022” event, organised to analyse the presence and role of women throughout the Italian fashion industry, examining the kind of tasks performed by women in fashion companies and their responsibilities in management roles.

During the event, the $120 million-worth Italian fashion designer Elisabetta Franchi spoke about women in the workplace, explaining why in her company there is no place for under-40-women in senior positions. She declared that the female percentage working in her company are women in their “anta”, meaning that they’re already married and with children, free to completely dedicate their time to their jobs. If young women take two years off for maternity leave, that could represent a problem for the company. In addition, Bologna’s Judge of Labour declared Franchi’s conduct illegitimate and anti-union after sending disciplinary complaints in November 2021 and in April 2022 to those workers that went on strike against overtime working hours. 

Today in Italy, women represent 50 per cent of the national workforce. 82 per cent of managers are men. In the private sector, there is a pay gap of 17 per cent between women and men, a gap that is clear already a year after graduation. In 2021, women have on average received a monthly pension of €428  less than men. Lastly, motherhood continues to be the first reason for work abandonment and reduction.

Franchi’s declarations hide corporate policies that have been defined as medieval, discriminatory, and patriarchal, where, unlikely many other countries, it has emerged that the Italian government is still quite absent, lacking structures and support for essential workers and women’s rights, where women are inevitably  forced to choose between family and career.

Sources and further readings:

Caruso, P. (2022, May 7). Elisabetta Franchi: «Assumo solo donne "anta" perché hanno già fatto figli». Il Corriere della Sera. Retrieved on 23 May 2022 from https://www.corriere.it/moda/22_maggio_07/elisabetta-franchi-assumo-solo-donne-anta-perche-hanno-gia-fatto-figli-9747040c-ce27-11ec-b3ba-cf41db28034c.shtml?refresh_ce

Il Foglio. (2022, April 30). "Donne e moda: il barometro 2022". Il 4 maggio l'evento di PwC Italia con Il Foglio della Moda. Il Foglio. Retrieved on 23 May 2022 from https://www.ilfoglio.it/gli-eventi-del-foglio/2022/04/30/news/-donne-e-moda-il-barometro-2022-il-4-maggio-l-evento-di-pwc-italia-con-il-foglio-della-moda-3956731/

Il Messaggero. (2022, May 13). Elisabetta Franchi, per il giudice la sua azienda è “antisindacale”: utilizzo intimidatorio delle misure disciplinari. Il Messaggero. Retrieved on 23 May 2022 from https://www.ilmessaggero.it/italia/elisabetta_franchi_azienda_betty_blue_antisindacale_sciopero_straordinari_ultime_notizie-6687664.html?refresh_ce 

Il Messaggero. (2022, May 7). Elisabetta Franchi: «Nelle posizioni di vertice scelgo solo donne over 40: hanno già fatto figli». Bufera social sulla stilista. Il Messaggero. Retrieved on 23 May 2022 from https://www.ilmessaggero.it/persone/elisabetta_franchi_donne_polemica_cosa_ha_detto_news-6674565.html?refresh_ce 

Querzè, R. (2022, May 9). La maternità penalizza ancora le donne sul lavoro: perché il caso Franchi non è l’eccezione. L’Economia.  Retrieved on 23 May 2022 from https://www.corriere.it/economia/lavoro/22_maggio_09/maternita-lavoro-donne-caso-elisabetta-franchi-d368d56a-cf89-11ec-99b8-03572084bce6.shtml