Empowering Women in Montenegro: The "Women on Boards" Program

  • Career Development
  • Published on September 30, 2023

Gender equality is an essential aspect of social and economic progress. It's no secret that diverse perspectives lead to more innovative and balanced decision-making. In this context, Montenegro is taking significant steps toward empowering women in leadership positions through the "Women on Boards" program, which was presented last week.

Developed in collaboration with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), this initiative aims to strengthen and promote female leadership in Montenegro's economic decision-making processes.

Breaking Ground in Montenegro

The "Women on Boards" program represents a remarkable milestone for Montenegro as it takes inspiration from European Union (EU) countries while being the first of its kind in the region. This program comes at a pivotal moment, signaling Montenegro's commitment to inclusivity and gender balance in the corporate sphere. Its primary objective is to cultivate and showcase the leadership potential of women, preparing them to take on crucial roles in the boards of directors of large private and public companies.

A Trailblazing Approach

At the helm of this groundbreaking initiative is the Investment and Development Fund (IRF), Montenegro's national development institution. IRF, in partnership with various international stakeholders, has embarked on a journey to empower women, foster economic growth, and enhance the competitiveness of Montenegro's economy.

IRF's Executive Director, Irena Radović, highlighted the program's significant impact on Montenegro's business landscape. She emphasized that the program builds upon a series of previous initiatives, including the "Ona pokreće biznis" (She drives business) campaign and the First National Conference on Women's Economic Empowerment. Since the inception of these activities, IRF has supported over 300 projects led by women entrepreneurs, significantly boosting their presence in the business world.

The Business Case for Gender Diversity

The rationale behind the "Women on Boards" program is supported by empirical evidence that shows companies with greater gender diversity at decision-making levels tend to perform better. Such companies demonstrate enhanced corporate governance, financial performance, and overall economic competitiveness. In this light, promoting gender balance in leadership positions isn't just a matter of social justice; it's a strategic move that strengthens businesses and economies.

Changing Legislation and Shaping the Future

In line with its commitment to gender balance, Montenegro is taking concrete legislative steps to create an environment conducive to women's participation in boardrooms. The European Union has introduced legally binding quotas for large companies, mandating that at least 40% of board seats be held by the underrepresented gender, and at least 33% of all executive and non-executive directors. This directive sets a deadline of June 2026 for compliance, and Montenegro is actively working to incorporate these requirements into its Company Law, expected to be adopted soon.

The "Women on Boards" program serves as a preparatory platform for the implementation of this new legislation. It identifies women who will be the driving forces behind this transformative initiative. Beyond investment, IRF is creating a more favorable environment, which is poised to bring long-term benefits to Montenegro's economy and society.

The EU Directive on gender-balanced representation in boards is not just about corporate governance; it's part of the broader implementation of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards. These standards are not only binding for EU companies but also for those outside the EU, including Montenegro. Compliance with ESG standards is essential for collaborating with EU partners, accessing EU funds, and entering the EU market.

Key program themes include personal branding, strategic management, ESG standards, financial knowledge for strategic decision-making, and strategic management during business transformations. These topics equip participants with the skills and knowledge required to excel in leadership roles.

A Catalyst for Change

The "Women on Boards" program's ultimate goal is to empower women, equip them with relevant skills, and ensure they can confidently contribute to vital corporate decision-making positions in Montenegro. The program plans to train women over three years, providing employers with a skilled and committed workforce.

The inaugural cohort of the "Women on Boards" program consists of exceptional female leaders, selected through a highly competitive process conducted by a renowned international agency. This group represents a beacon of hope for Montenegro, inspiring a new wave of change and progress.


The "Women on Boards" program in Montenegro stands as a testament to the nation's commitment to gender equality and economic progress. By nurturing and promoting female leadership in the corporate sphere, Montenegro is not only investing in its future but also creating a more inclusive and competitive business environment.

As the first initiative of its kind in the region, "Women on Boards" is setting the stage for a more equitable and prosperous Montenegro. It is a program that promises to empower women, enhance economic performance, and shape the future of the country. Montenegro is not just catching up with international standards; it is taking the lead in promoting gender diversity and inclusive decision-making in the corporate world.

With "Women on Boards," Montenegro is taking a giant step toward a more prosperous and equitable future for all and we fully support this step!