Womenomics: Economic Growth and the Female Consumer

Womenomics: Economic Growth and the Female Consumer

The Womenomics conference has been created to outline and explore the growth potential of the female economy. Not only are women often underrepresented in the labour market, but research shows that the gender imbalance in top leadership roles weakens the bottom line, while also impeding innovative thinking, and diversity of thought.

Diversity is not only the right thing to do, it also makes smart business sense, with women representing enormous economic potential as leaders, innovators and consumers.

When we talk about diversity, this leadership pipeline is often the place where all energy and research is focussed, but Womenomics has been created to take a more holistic approach to the concept of the female economy. Along with panels and debates regarding D&I, we also look beyond the corporate sphere to the purchasing power and wealth of the female consumer, which is often underestimated.

In 2019, for example, we heard from Cecilie Westh, the Managing Director of consumer insight company, Nielsen. Who shared the data they have gathered in their 95 years of operation behind consumer behaviour, which shows that the female consumer is becoming more and more powerful.

Women are now accountable for $39.6 trillion of the world’s wealth, up 25% from 5 years ago, and by 2028 it is forecast by Boston Consulting Group that women will control 75% of discretionary spending.

Westh advices that not only are women responsible for over 70% of basic household expenses (FMCG), but their spending on luxury items, is also increasing at a fast rate than the male consumer. As such, all companies should be investing in further understanding this dominant consumer segment, and matching their leadership teams to the consumers they are appealing to.

With increased spending power, comes increased wealth, and one industry responding to this is the financial sector, where technological disruption is already shaking up what used to be considered a permanent institution. We gathered top industry experts: Carsten Borring, AVP at NASDAQ, Sinne Backs Conan, Executive Director European Affairs at Finance Denmark and Mads Skovlund Pedersen, Head of Personal Banking Denmark at Nordea for a panel facilitated by Claer Barrett, Personal Finance Editor of the Financial Times.

The conversation focussed on sustainability and ‘ESG’s, and how banks and investors are increasingly focussing on ethical practices, and how this sustainable revolution is matched by a digital revolution, as cards are replaced by phones and banking moved online.

These trends also indicate an industry catering more and more to its female customers, and especially adapting their wealth management, as women are proven to save far more than their male counterparts, but invest far less of it, while also looking for more sustainable funds.

With booming independent wealth, it is not only banks, but also retailers, investors, insurers, pension funds and beyond, that must adapt to meet the needs of the female consumer.

Fast-Track Insights – Interview with Carla Torregrosa Calvet, Danaher Business System Leader at Radiometer

Fast-Track Insights – Interview with Carla Torregrosa Calvet, Danaher Business System Leader at Radiometer

Carla Torregrosa Calvet flew in to Copenhagen from California to participate in the Fast-Track Program for Emerging Female Managers in June 2019. No stranger to new challenges, she embraced the week as an opportunity to reflect on her purpose, and we met her to discuss the key takeaways she gained and how she came to believe ‘the sky is the limit!’

  • Tell us a bit about yourself and your career journey, job titles etc.

I am originally from Valencia, Spain. I moved to California in 2010 and been here ever since. 

My career as an engineer started in Spain, where I worked as an accoustical engineer for the University. After this, I moved to the US and started to work for a Life Sciences company as an Industrial Engineering junior project manager. During these years, I had several titles as I got more experienced and promoted to higher responsibility roles. Some of these included: Associate Project Manager, Specialist Project Manager, Project Manager, Sr. Project Manager… During my exposure through the years working as a project manager and having the opportunity to manage employees to accomplish goals (directly and indirectly), I also had the opportunity to develop in Lean Six Sigma and coordinated numerous continuous improvement initiatives. I got my official Lean Six Sigma certification and was certified as an internal Continuous Improvement facilitator during these years. 

My passion for continuous improvement was something I could not ignore and made the decision to accept the new opportunity of becoming a Danaher Business System Leader for Radiometer (a Danaher company). I’ve been in this role for approximately a year now and could not be happier.

  • What is one thing, or ‘aha’ moment that you took away as a key learning from the 5 days?

The “aha” moment for me came on day 3, when the discussion around innovation made its way through. I’ve never been involved in the company’s innovation strategy before and it clicked that having a clear plan around our product’s innovation is as fundamental as meeting our 2-3-5 year plans and delivering on KPIs and annual objectives. It’s essential to ensure that any given company will be prepared to meet customers’ needs as our society evolves, and a fundamental piece for any company’s long term survival in the market.

  • Was there a particular professor/activity that you enjoyed specifically?

I really enjoyed day 3 with Ricardo Perez as the topic really pulled me in, but I do have to say that I practically enjoyed every day at the event. The information shared, the activities that we all did together to make sure the key learnings were understood were really well thought-out and engaging. I felt my energy levels increase as the week progressed as I truly found every day very interesting.

  • What was it like joining the cross-industry network of female participants?

It was a great experience to be part of and I learned a lot from all my peers and their different perspectives. Each woman there had a different journey, aspirations, short- and long-term goals and it was great to learn about them and take advantage of their stories and their experiences. I was able to accelerate my learnings and was able to make key contacts/friends that I am sure will there for me for career support when reached if needed. Thank you ladies!

  • Did the program facilitate any shifts in your perspective on your career journey, if yes, please specify?

Yes, it did. The program encouraged growth and that the sky is the limit for any woman ready to assume high responsibility corporate roles. It also showed that you need to always be aligned with your life purpose in order to be able to succeed in anything. It is key to not lose this perspective. I am now more aware and ask myself about my purpose and make sure that this alignment is always present.

  • What would you say to someone in your position considering joining the program?

I would say “Go for it!”. The key learnings you will walk away with are fantastic. Meeting other women leaders is very inspirational and the key lessons/takeaways are very useful. I would recommend this course to any woman as we are all leaders, in our own ways.

Carla Torregrosa Calvet

Fact Box

Name: Carla Torregrosa Calvet

Age: 37

Education: Masters Degree in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia (UPV), Spain

Company: Radiometer

Title: Danaher Business System Leader

Civil Status: Married

Children: One little girl, Alexia, that is 18 months old

Fun fact: Love to rock climb and be out and about in nature. My vacations are always planned around visiting national parks. I think I’ll never get tired of it.

ILO: Women in Business and Management - The business case for change

ILO: Women in Business and Management – The business case for change

In May 2019, the ILO released their latest report on women in business and management, showcasing that gender diversity improves business outcomes, while also positively affecting a company’s ability to attract talents.

The report, carried our annually, surveys almost 13,000 enterprises from 70 countries in order to gain an overview of how various companies and countries are approaching the gender agenda and to what degree of success.

A key conclusion is that the majority (57%) of respondents believe that gender diversity initiatives improves business outcomes, and this belief is matched by real economic data. Almost three-quarters of those companies that tracked gender diversity in their management reported profit increases of between 5 and 20%, with the majority seeing increases of between 10 and 15%.

“Companies should look at gender balance as a bottom line issue, not just a human resource issue.” Deborah France-Massin, Director of the ILO Bureau for Employers’ Activities

This economic impact has been outlined in research by various parties, including McKinsey & Co. and WEF, but a unique insight gained from this report, particularly, is the importance of gender diversity when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. Almost 57% said it was easier to attract and retain talent, when working openly D&I. More than 54% said they saw improvements in creativity, innovation and openness and a similar proportion said effective gender inclusivity enhanced their company’s reputation, while almost 37% felt it enabled them to more effectively gauge customer sentiment.

However, there are still significant leaps to be made.

Gender balance in senior management is defined as 40-60% of either gender. However almost 60% of enterprises failed to reach 30% women represented., which is also known to be the point at which the positive ripple effects of inclusion start to be seen.

More than 78% of enterprises who responded had male CEO’s, and those with female CEO’s were more likely to be small enterprises.

Furthermore, for almost half of the responding enterprises, women make up less than a third of entry-level management recruits. The problem lies not just in promotion, but in attraction too.

To counteract this, the ILO has drawn up a list of factors that most negatively affect balanced leadership, primarily: inclusivity and work-life balance policies need to be improved, the ‘glass wall’ – the fact that women managers tend to be in HR or administration roles, which are viewed as being less strategic and thereby impeding their chances of promotion to management and the ‘leaky pipeline’.

It is only by turning vocal commitment into concrete action that these factors can be eliminated. Through focussed employer branding programs, such as Lead the Future, and development programs, such as the Advanced Leadership Program, companies can harness the potential of female talents and strengthen the talent pipeline throughout their organisation.

Read more about steps for breaking the cycle: https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_701767/lang–en/index.html

Julie Louise Nielsen

Fast-Track Insights – Interview with Julie Louise Nielsen, Operations Manager at Maersk Tankers

As an Operations Manager for an international shipping company, Julie Louise Nielsen is used to questions about her position in a male-dominated industry. But when we met her to discuss her participation in the Fast-Track course in June 2019 she was keen to point out that times are changing, with female role models championing the debate, and corporations taking responsibility for creating diverse and inclusive cultures.

Julie discussed the inspiration she gained from the week, from quiet reflection, to the igniting of further ambitions.

  • Tell us a bit about yourself and your career journey, job titles etc.

I started my career in shipping right after finishing high school in 2006. For the longest time I had planned to become an Air Traffic Controller, but it was that exact year when they stopped recruiting for 3 years. So, I landed a job as a shipping trainee and I was quickly captivated by the pace and energy of this global industry, where no day is the same.

It’s been 13 interesting and challenging years during which I have grown personally and professionally in a constantly changing industry, and still do today.

From jobs as a Tanker Operator, Bunker Purchaser and Bunker Broker, I am today working for Maersk Tankers as an Operator, where we handle one of the largest product tanker fleets in the world. As a Tanker Operator, you are basically running a taxi service at sea. We are responsible for transporting our customers’ cargo from A to B, and we are the keyholders for all parties involved in a transshipment.

The company I work for, Maersk Tankers, has also been on a journey since 2017, when it separated from A.P. Møller Mærsk. They joined the Diversity Council as part of their efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. The shipping industry itself is usually not perceived to be an industry for women, but I disagree. And it is also down to us, women in shipping, who must, together with our companies, prove and highlight this. It is very interesting and challenging to be a part of this journey and a lot has happened since 2017.

Maersk Tankers trusted me, by appointing me as one of their talented females to attend the Fast-Track Female Leadership Program. Representing these efforts in an industry primarily dominated by men is indeed a role I hold close to my heart and with pride, for a more diverse future workforce in shipping.    

  • What is one thing, or ‘aha’ moment that you took away as a key learning from the 5 days?

All modules were interesting in their own ways, but key learning for me was the self-reflection on day 1 and day 5. It has been great for me to sit down, make lists of do’s and don’ts and to accept, that it is okay that I am ambitious and that it is okay that some people may react in different ways to my approach and to my ambitions.

It has assisted me in my day-to-day work, to understand and tackle my reactions to things and situations. Now I am able to pull out my tools from my course files, acknowledge the situation I am in and put myself in the other person’s position and try to understand their needs.

The way we were told to design our own lives, was an eye opener. To sit in the small groups and say out loud, how you would like to design your life, was challenging but very rewarding. The group provided feedback and suggestions on how to achieve your ambitions, and pointed out that the things you might think are out of reach, may actually be right in front of you, if you just take another approach.

  • Was there a particular professor/activity that you enjoyed specifically?

Dr. Kriti Jain, who taught us about self-awareness, as teams, individuals and in the society, was very interesting. I could have listened to her for days, I think. The way she challenged my purpose, vision and impact was outstanding. She taught me how to distinguish the patterns of thoughts and behaviors that enable me, or hold me back from reaching my truest potential.

Furthermore, a week without Morven McLean, the Academic Director, would have been far duller! She pulled us up, when the lessons have been long and full of information. Her energy way of refreshing all the modules so they came together as one, was of great value.

  • What was it like joining the cross-industry network of female participants?

I was anxious to face a week with 30 women, given that in my daily work I am surrounded mainly by men. However, the diversity within the 30 participants was still fantastic. All the different nationalities, the different back grounds and different career stories were inspiring. For me it was also very rewarding to learn from their experiences and to take away some of their thoughts and actions. It has been invaluable.

  • Did the program facilitate any shifts in your perspective on your career journey, if yes, please specify?

It has lit a fire in me, sparking the thought that I should allow myself to aim for something more in my career and stop worrying about other people’s reaction. It has also shown me that my ambition to become a leader someday, is reachable, if I dare to develop and further explore my patterns.

  • What would you say to someone in your position considering joining the program?

Do it! Accept the opportunity your company is offering you to be able to take the next step in your career, even if you think that you are not qualified to attend. Because, if your company sees it, you do have what it takes. This course may be an eye-opener for you to see what your company is seeing and what your opportunities are. At least it was for me!

Fact Box

Name: Julie Louise Nielsen

Age: 33

Education: Danish Shipping Academy

Company: Maersk Tankers A/S

Title: Operator

Civil Status: Single

Children: Nil

Fun fact: I am the first member of my family who has graduated from high school. My high school teacher was disappointed to see that I was attending shipping and not politics.

30 participants, 9 countries, 5 companies – Fast-Track Program June 2019

Fast-Track Program for Emerging Female Managers

”The happiest people discover their own nature and match their life to it” – Ray Dalio

On Day One of the Fast-Track program, Professor Kriti Jain shared this statement from billionaire investor and philanthropist, Ray Dalio. By rooting the program firmly in identity, purpose and vision, participants were invited to ‘own their journey’. It meant that all the case studies explored, experts listened to, and tasks attempted, were considered in light of this initial task: of building a ‘life design canvas’ where personal purpose and mission underpinned their professional roles.

What followed was a five day learning experience in central Copenhagen, where participants were taught by a range of leading professors and experts, each with their own approach, to offer a new and holistic approach to leadership development. From VR explorations, to case studies from Zara and Nokia, the class balanced business theory with hands-on learning.

At the end of the week, participants were invited to reconsider their mission and purpose, in light of the strategic lessons learnt, and create a next step plan, to step into the roles they felt best matched their core competencies and values.

Over the next three months, they have been matched with mentors to monitor this extended learning journey, as they apply the tools acquired in their workplaces.

About the Program

The program has been created by Above & Beyond Group, in partnership with Headspring, by Financial Times & IE Business School, and has reimagined traditional education with a clear focus on learning by doing, and self-exploration.

Orchestrated by Program Director, Morven McLean, the participants left the program with new tools for implementing purpose and vision, with organizational, team, and customer-orientated strategic leadership from various international professors and a panel of experts from Tesla, Nokia, Vestas and Radiometer.

Alongside key learnings, the participants also bonded as a class – with spontaneous swimming trips, dinner and networking taking place throughout the week.

Participate in the Next Program?

 If you are interested in participating in the next Nordic Fast-Track course in November 2019, please visit: https://www.thediversitycouncil.com/fast-track-program/

Appearances That Deceive

Appearances That Deceive

Does the way you look matter when it comes to leadership? David Bolchover argues that similar looking CEOs reflects sameness in thinking.

The proportion of women chief executives (CEOs) among the largest companies is very similar in the United Kingdom and the United States. Just five percent of CEOs at FTSE 100 companies, and 6.4 percent at Fortune 500 companies, are female. But it’s not just women who are disadvantaged. Ethnic minorities also suffer similarly low representation in the corridors of corporate power, as do short, ugly men with high-pitched voices.

In research for his 2005 book, “Blink”, Malcolm Gladwell found that 30% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were 6 feet 2 inches or taller, though they comprised less than 4% of the American male population. Daniel Hamermesh, a professor of Economics at the University of London, found that attractive people will on average earn 3-4% more than their less-blessed colleagues. And a 2013 study by Duke University and the University of California at San Diego showed that the deeper the voices of the 792 male CEOs surveyed, the more they earned. Presumably, the male falsettos among the workforce are failing to make the boardroom at all.

There are two ways to spin these statistics. Many economists claim that there are rational market-based explanations for such discrepancies. Others argue that this is the inevitable result of a modern-day knowledge economy in which objective measurement of individual performance is almost impossible. Either way, presenting the right image is the essential prerequisite for career success.

According to the market-based rationale, women are at a disadvantage in the workplace because they take crucial years out of their careers to raise children. When they return to work, and with young offspring still at home, they might not want to put in the necessary time to reach the top.

Voices of authority

Those who believe that the corporate world, especially at senior levels, works according to strictly meritocratic principles might also add that tall, attractive or perhaps deep-voiced men are more likely to make better executives. Supposedly, employees and investors are more inclined to take notice when a tall male speaks—especially in a deep voice.

Although difficult to dismiss out of hand, these arguments contain significant weaknesses. The notion that women in their 30s and 40s are all running around after children is at the very least outdated. According to the Office for National Statistics, one in five women in the United Kingdom remains childless, with no need for a career break, while almost half of families (47 percent) have only one child. In her book “Lean In”, Sheryl Sandberg quotes a survey stating that “43% of highly qualified women (in the United States) with children are leaving careers or off-ramping for a period of time.” Which means that 57% don’t. In other words, when it comes to female under- representation in the boardroom, the ‘career break’ argument is somewhat unconvincing.

‘Diversity in the boardroom is a strong indication to investors and potential employees that the company is a cut above the rest.’

Are tall men with deep voices really going to make better decisions, or devise superior strategies? That they predominate in senior roles suggests that talent is not the major determinant of career success in many large corporates. More likely, they are promoted because it is extremely difficult to distinguish among the many people who could do the job perfectly well. Unconsciously perhaps, the recruiting committee selects the person with who looks most like a leader, along with the essential mannerisms and tone of voice.

The selected leaders in large companies reflect the sameness of their employers. On the other hand, if a company really has something different to shout about, then surely you are more likely to appoint the leader who can articulate this with the greatest enthusiasm and precision. That’s when women, short men and ethnic minorities get a fairer crack of the whip.

Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Jeff Bezos are around 5 foot 8 inches tall. Indeed, the great entrepreneurs come in all shapes, sizes and creeds. Diversity in the boardroom should not just be celebrated for its own sake, or as is often suggested, because a diverse customer base might be better served. It’s also a strong indication to investors and potential employees that the company is a cut above the rest.

David Bolchover is an award-winning business journalist and author of three books on management and the workplace.

This article was written for Headspring Executive Development, formerly known as Financial Times | IE Business school Corporate Learning Alliance.

The Global Context of Leadership

CEO Panel Discussion: The Global Context of Leadership

Three top CEOs from The Diversity Council, Martin Andre Dittmer, CEO and Managing Partner at Gorrissen Federspiel; Marianne Dahl, CEO at Microsoft and Morten Hübbe, CEO at Tryg, participated in a panel to discuss being ‘drivers of change’ at the Advanced Leadership Program for Women 2019.

The first day of the Advanced Leadership Program for Women provided a deep-dive on ‘21st Century Leadership’ by business thought-leader and author, Peter Fisk.  As well as speaking about the new powers and disruptive technologies that are transforming the world of work, Fisk delivered an accelerated run-down the world’s 100 most inspiring companies. After a full day of studying best practise cases in the abstract, the top female talents on the program were joined by Pilita Clark, an Associate Editor at the Financial Times, who facilitated a panel with three CEOs who implement the strategic leadership approaches that had been discussed during the day. These top leaders were: Martin Andre Dittmer, CEO and Managing Partner at Gorrissen Federspiel; Marianne Dahl, CEO at Microsoft and Morten Hübbe, CEO at Tryg.

As CEOs of some of Denmark’s largest publicly-held companies, dependant on healthy profit margins and KPIs, the CEOs all noted the importance of adopting a growth mindset in this time of technology-driven transformation, and the threat of insurgent companies, whose private status means they have more freedom to disrupt and innovate.  

One such company is Lemonade, a tech firm transforming the insurance landscape. Morten Hübbe observed that their staff-less model means they can work much faster and much cheaper, and giants of the industry, such as Tryg, cannot get complacent about the competition they pose.

One initiative that has recently been implemented at Tryg to encourage innovative thinking is inviting 200 people and 35 start-ups to share their work space. This unconventional approach has empowered the company to disrupt itself from within and, as a result, Tryg is now the largest player in insuring in the sharing economy in Denmark. While high risk is usually incompatible with insurance, it is vital in order to move faster than the accelerating competitors.

Refusing to get complacent is a sentiment shared by Microsoft CEO, Marianne Dahl, who recounted a 2007 Forbes front cover titled: ‘Nokia One Billion Customers: Can anyone catch the cell phone king?’ Within just eight years, however, the company was bought and essentially shut down by Microsoft. Even industry giants can be swallowed, and it is this threat that drives Dahl to keep developing. In technology, the past is the worst indicator of the future and with this in mind, Dahl plans to double their size in four years and transform two thirds of the revenue stream.

In the legal sector, legacy is key, and can seem to impede any rapid progress. Martin Andre Dittmer observed that in Gorrissen Federspiel, they celebrate the fact that they stand on 150 years of history, but for a human industry, AI represents a sizeable threat. Dittmer shared with the panel various initiatives Gorrissen Federspiel has introduced to counteract this, including a digitalisation committee, start-up competition for free legal help called ‘Sunburst’, renting of legal services in the gig economy and also a specific course on product development for managers.

Adapting to the future workplace is not limited to strategic developments; appealing to millennials will also demand that companies embrace a more sustainable and flexible model. In the new corporate landscape, the war for talents is almost as fierce as the war for customers. Morten Hübbe observes that, “Millennials motivated by purpose, they want to feel in tune with the leader’s views”. Rather than big corporates or big pay checks, they want to work somewhere worthwhile.

Finally, the conversation turned to women in leadership, and specifically what was needed to get more women in management. This topic is at the heart of the Advanced Leadership Program for Women, which has been designed to strengthen the talent pipeline and further develop the capabilities of top female talents over the 4 modules of the course.

Marianne Dahl noted that while global trends can be encouraging, in Denmark, the representation of women in boards and CEOs dropped 6.6% in 2018. Relative to its Nordic neighbours, Denmark’s position is only getting worse. This talent drain occurs at two key moments: around the time of having a second child and in the early forties, when female leaders begin to feel like outsiders, given their limited numbers at the top: not one of the executive boys’ club, but alienated from female co-workers too.

Yet, even if the numbers are moving in the wrong direction, the need for more women in leadership is only increasing. As technology replaces mundane tasks, businesses are becoming more dependent on the human skills of their employees: their intuition, imagination and innovation.

Morten Hübbe observed that this offers a unique opportunity to answer the more holistic leadership challenge. Broadly, women are better at identifying the ‘why’, while men are more data driven. In Tryg, they are encouraging rotation schemes to build broader leadership profiles amongst their top talents while also creating a flexible work culture that works with family.

When approaching the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, new problems require new models for new solutions. This proactive approach is also applicable when it comes to talent development – in a world where there are more CEOs called John than women, it is time to disrupt outdated business practises and embrace the diversity of thought and approach that will ensure businesses thrive.

To learn more about The Advanced Leadership Program, visit: www.thediversitycouncil.com

HR Workshop - March 2019 at Gorrissen Federspiel

HR Workshop – March 2019 at Gorrissen Federspiel

On the 1st of March, our Diversity Council HR workshop was hosted at Gorrissen Federspiel, where the theme was ’Strengthening the Female Talent Pipeline: Attracting And Recruiting Diverse Talents’. The discussion centred on four keys areas that impact recruitment: Attracting Generation Z and Y, Social Media, Optics and Wording in Job Adverts and Headhunting. 

We were delighted to welcome Vestas to the alliance for their first meeting, where they join Tryg, FT | IE Corporate learning Alliance, The Central Bank of Denmark, Radiometer, PwC, Maersk, Microsoft, McKinsey & Co, Lederne, Gorrissen Federspiel, The Foreign Ministry, The Danish Chamber of Commerce and Coloplast in The Diversity Council.

To further examine the tool needs to fully engage Generation Z and Y, Cultural Sociologist, Emilia Van Hauen, presented on the ontological insecurity of the future generations, who face immense pressure to be: productive, visible, liked and developing. With concrete examples and case studies, she concluded that the impetus is on those who are currently in the workforce to turn the generation gap into a generation bridge.

In terms of the way social media can be used to attract female talent, insights were provided by Astrid Haug, Digital Transformation and Social Media expert. Women are more active on social media than men – and engage more – this is an opportunity to target women in a different way. Haug presented several tools to implement a social media strategy through employee advocacy and the importance of ‘showing not telling’.

In order to understand what must be demanded of headhunters to ensure diverse slates during recruitment, Kim Arlund Nørgaard and Christian Skaaning, partners at Stanton Chase, shared their first-hand experiences in ensuring HR get the agile and adaptable talents needed in the workplace of the future. They drew attention to the fact that hiring processes should put less focus on past performance and more on future potential.

Representing Diversity Council founding partner company, Coloplast, Stine Fehmerling, Senior Manager Global Inclusion & Diversity, spoke about the steps currently being made by Coloplast to ensure inclusive optics and wording in their job adverts, including recent photoshoots, updated policies and the importance of representing the diversity of employees in job adverts.

It was a stimulating and varied discussion, with the cross-industry insights producing key recommendations in each of the four areas to strengthen the talent pipeline and ensure the engagement of the full talent pool.

ALP Spotlight – Liezel Du Toit

ALP Spotlight – Liezel Du Toit

Having taken on 4 new jobs in the last 5 years, Liezel Du Toit is no stranger to leadership challenges. Now Senior Director, Head of Revenue Excellence at Maersk, we spoke with Liezel about her participation in the Advanced Leadership Program for Women 2017, and why a successful leadership career requires both a strong drive, and moments to pause and reflect.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career journey, job titles etc, before and after joining the Advanced Leadership Program (ALP) in 2017?

I started my career in Cape Town, as a trainee for P&O Nedlloyd, at that time the second largest shipping company. I learned a lot of things in my various rotations in different departments, but the biggest learning of all was that our industry is old, broken and riddled with inefficiencies. It was love at first sight! My personality was immediately triggered and the amount of issues facing our customers was a great challenge and source of inspiration.

In 2005, Maersk bought P&O Nedlloyd and I was very fortunate to step right into the largest global shipping company as Customer Service Manager for Cape Town. As a woman growing up in South Africa I was used to bias. Bias against my age and my gender was common place. Stepping into the Maersk organization was a revelation to me. All of a sudden nobody cared that I was a 24-year-old woman, they only cared about my performance, which meant that I was the only person holding the key to my career and I started to take that very seriously.

In the summer of 2008, I was offered a position as Trade Manager, responsible for Far East to Southern Africa, based in Copenhagen. My husband and I had already agreed very early on in our relationship that I had the higher earning potential and the drive, which meant he was willing to follow me around the world. When the opportunity came, he stepped up, quit his job and took the primary role in moving our lives, so that I could focus on working.

I worked as a Trade Manager for 2 years, creating strategy, meeting clients, building products and being responsible for a profit and loss for the first time. After two years I was promoted, still in the Trade scope, but taking a larger responsibility and a new geography covering West Central Asia to West Africa. I made another geographical shift in 2012 and in 2014 I broke through and become a director. At this point Maersk decided to create a professional Revenue Management department and I was appointed as one of the first 3 Heads of Pricing, covering West Central Asia and Africa. This was my first leadership role in 6 years and gave me the responsibility of setting prices for 50% of our global revenue. This role required a lot of Transformational work, since we had to standardize how we worked in order to start our digital journey. My natural tendency to seek out inefficiency was triggered once again, considering all we found in our journey to become digital and always available online. I became more and more interested in doing Transformation as a key part of my role.

In 2017 I joined the ALP and started realizing that I need to create the narrative of my career. I felt confident that a new type of role was needed and instead of applying for a new job, I proposed that a new, more senior role was created for me. It was very stressful, I have never leaned out this heavily, but my boldness was rewarded with a promotion to Senior Director in May 2017, becoming the first Head of Pricing Transformation. This was my dream job and also the first time I had a full global scope.

In Feb 2018 I was asked to expand my scope and take on all process, policy and technology ownership for Price to Contract. This was a big challenge, since I never worked with technology directly and was not familiar with working Agile, but somehow I managed. In September 2018, Maersk announced a new organization and a major shift towards becoming the Integrator of Container Shipping. This made me Senior Director, Head of Revenue Excellence and I am happily serving in this role as we speak.

What motivates you to pursue a leadership career, and how does your company enable this?

I enjoy being able to deliver results through others. I have always been a very trusting person and I naturally trust and empower others. I find that this encourages people to step up, since they prefer not to disappoint someone that has empowered them. I love the feeling when someone is suddenly able to do more, simply because you believed in them. Being a leader is a time consuming, but immensely rewarding role.

I am especially motivated to have a diverse team of people in my team, it helps me to balance my thinking and my views and it helps us to achieve more. My company has always been very supportive of my desire to be a leader. I was given the opportunity to have a team, but I was also partnered with an HR professional that takes care of me and my team. We have bi-weekly 1:1 sessions, talking about my team, what they are struggling with and creating career plans for them. This is a luxury in my opinion and I am very grateful to work in a company that puts this so high on the agenda.

What is one thing that you took away as a key learning from the 5 modules?

I learnt many practical skills, some strategic tools that I have heard of, but never had the time to truly study. If I had to choose one learning then it was that we all struggle with similar business problems. In a strange way this was a relief and helped me to focus more on where I can do better, rather than just being stressed about the things that were not working.

In what ways do you use the skills that you’ve learned in the ALP in your work and how has the program helped you become a better leader?

The key change for me has been to spend more time on reflection. These weeks at ALP were precious to me. They forced me to focus on something other than my immediate work, gave me access to a group of amazing sparring partners and allowed me to reflect on things I never made time for. I could discuss, vent and get a lot of advice. Post ALP I realized that I needed to continue this reflection time and build a structure into my life that facilitated this, otherwise it would just be another good intention.

Effective shortly after completing ALP, I introduced ‘Thursday Walk to Work Day’. When I am not travelling I work at Esplanaden 50, which is around 3 km from my home. Normally I bike to work, but now I walk to work and back every Thursday, rain, snow or shine! This gives me time to think and my team has noticed a big difference in me. I will ponder on questions they ask me and generally be more relaxed, so the depth and quality of our conversations has improved.

What is next for you in your career, since finishing the ALP, and what are your long-term career aspirations?

Considering that I have had 4 new jobs in the last 5 years, my ambition right now is to settle in my role. I want to build a strong team and create my natural successor. I am very happy that I managed to groom and promote two people to director level to replace me in my last two jobs, but I need some time to focus and groom the next senior director. My passion is with Transformation, creating new solutions for our customers and building a motivating environment for our Sales teams. Considering that my work is all about changing the landscape, I am certain that my next job does not exist yet. I am fine with that and a measure of success will be that I once more carve out a role for myself, this time at Vice President level. I know that it is tacky to talk about job levels, but job levels come with decision making power and I want to use my power for good!

What has been your biggest leadership challenge since finishing the ALP and how did you deal with it?

My biggest leadership challenge since leaving, was taking on 2 new roles in the space of 7 months in 2018. Neither of these roles were well defined, which I don’t mind, but it meant that I had to create a narrative to encourage talents to work in my team. This was hard work, but very much linked to my passion, so it was not an issue for me. However, some people that followed me had to accept a new layer being created between me and them, when my scope more than doubled in September. They felt betrayed and worried that they were no longer important to me. It was an emotional time, but I worked closely with them and also made sure their new leaders took their careers very seriously. In time they have come to realize that they actually get more quality time with their new managers, since my schedule is so hectic, but for a few months this was tough.

What one thing could encourage more women to pursue a career in leadership?

The reward of developing others, and the gift of diversity. It is such a pleasure to lead the combined brilliance of a group of people, instead of relying on yourself.

Fact Box:

Name:                                             Liezel Du Toit

Age:                                                 38

Education:                                     B.Comm Hons, Economics, University of Cape Town

Company:                                      Maersk

Title:                                                Senior Director, Head of Revenue Excellence

Civil Status:                                   Happily Married

Children:                                        No kids

Fun fact:                                         I am the first person in my family to finish high school

It’s All About the Culture - Jais Valeur

‘It’s All About the Culture’

By: Jais Valeur, CEO, Danish Crown

At a meeting in England with Danish Crown’s British subsidiary earlier this year, I noticed something striking. A third of the executives in the room were women. “Extraordinary,” I thought, wondering how we could make that happen everywhere in Danish Crown.

We Scandinavians regard ourselves as the world champions of gender equality, and there are many good reasons why. Women outnumber men in our universities, we have access to generous and affordable childcare, long maternity and even mandatory paternity leave policies are in place to help women in the workforce, while statutory quotas are used to help ensure that women are also able to reach the top of the workforce.

However, through years of working internationally, my own observations are that while we may be frontrunners in terms of thinking and implementing gender policy and legislation, we can still learn a lot in terms of practicing it and really making it work. Which brings me back to the meeting in England.

Researchers have pointed to a “gender equality paradox” in academia, which shows that the more gender equal a society becomes, the less women can be found in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I have experienced a similar paradox in management. Especially when I see more women in management in countries that do not support working families or have gender-equality programmes to the same degree that we do in the Nordic countries – like I did that day at my meeting in England. The numbers bear this out.

In Denmark, where Danish Crown is headquartered, women make up 27% of management positions. That is not only the lowest in the Nordic countries, it is also below the 31% average for all OECD countries. Sweden and Iceland just creep into the top 10 – at number 8 and 10, respectively – in terms of the number of women in management, according to a 2017 OECD report.[1] And this is in spite of the fact that Scandinavian countries make up 5 of the top 10 nations with the largest number of active women in the labour market.

So, yes, we have succeeded in opening up the labour market to women across Scandinavia, but getting more women into the decision-making ranks of our companies is the next challenge. I do not believe, however, that this challenge can be solved with quotas or legislation. Instead, it will require an even sharper focus on building more inclusive cultures in our Nordic companies that do business all over the world. And it is imperative not only for the sake of fairness – it is good business, too.

Short and Long-Term Change

Creating an inclusive culture is not rocket science, but it is hard work. It requires attention to detail, and it takes time.

At Danish Crown, we have reassessed the language and metaphors we use in job postings, and this has already led to a large increase in women applicants to new jobs. The importance of cooperation and culture are being stressed as much as the importance of responsibility and results.

We have implemented new requirements for recruitment companies that at least one of the three final candidates for any job must be a woman. We believe that this is important, because many recruiters are men, and we must constantly challenge their natural biases to choose candidates who resemble themselves or the people we already have. And we are working with our existing women leaders to find and create role models and culture bearers who can help us create change.

We are also working on longer-term initiatives to increase diversity. Recently, we launched the group’s first ever graduate programme, which will take on a 50/50 split of men and women and a 50/50 split of Danes and non-Danes each year. This will help us create a pipeline of management talent for the future. This autumn, we will launch an entirely new corporate identity that will help us tell a more nuanced story about Danish Crown and be an important step toward helping us build a more inclusive employer brand.

To read the full extract visit https://www.womenomicscph.dk/womenomics-book/

To order the book here: https://www.saxo.com/dk/womenomics_tine-arentsen-willumsen_haeftet_9788797062609


[1] http://www.oecd.org/publications/the-pursuit-of-gender-equality-9789264281318-en.htm