Our client had a vision to lead the field of gender diversity within the next two years. Developing their senior female leaders to be able to make the transition from Director to Managing Director was seen as critical to this vision.
In order to accomplish this vision our client recognised that both women leaders and the culture of the organisation needed to change. So they were looking for a development intervention that would build womens’ leadership capability, appreciates the differing development needs of women to men, would engage the most senior women and men around the organisation and most importantly lead to participants being promoted to the Managing Director level.
Our client was also looking for the programme to facilitate the building of a network that would impact the organisation as a whole. While they already had a Women’s Network they were looking to create a smaller network that would facilitate better support of the senior women – who in turn would be able to influence the senior stakeholders of the organisation.
In sharing our experience our client was able to appreciate why it is different to develop leadership in women than in men, and therefore become comfortable with a programme design that is completely different than any of the other development programs offered under the talent and leadership development banner. In broad outline we devised a programme combining classroom and experiential learning with individual coaching. The programme ran over a 5-6 month duration.
The first programme was piloted in 2011 and has been running annually since then. One third of participants who have attended the programme have been promoted so far. A number of informal initiatives have also been incubated in the programme, which has significantly increased the visibility of the senior women in the organisation.
Because of one particular initiative started by a participant on last year’s programme the CEO now regularly meets with a group of about 20 women to discuss how to best forward the gender diversity agenda. This has led to a significant increase in female presenters at the quarterly top management performance review meeting giving the senior women much more visibility.