Complex Made Simple

Gender diversity: Makes a lot of business and sense

Gender diversity should not be or become a catchphrase that people mention or toss around in the course of a conversation to be politically correct.

Gender parity and diversity are core arguments for businesses hoping to make a profit and sustain income streams that would otherwise remain unfulfilled or dry out.

As recent developments show, this is taken up at the highest levels.

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Corporate learning alliance

The Above & Beyond Group has formed an international learning partnership with Financial Times | IE Business School Corporate Learning Alliance, a leading provider of customized executive development programs for corporates. The partnership is focused on the advancement of women in business.

Above & Beyond Group is an international strategic consultancy with Nordic origins, focusing on business and brand development, building over the past 6 years, a network of business platforms and initiatives to advance gender diversity in both business and society at large.

FT | IE Corporate Learning Alliance will facilitate and run the leadership programs of The Diversity Council, a platform and diversity accelerator developed by Above & Beyond Group to address the barriers that obstruct the advancement of more women into top management.

Tine Willumsen with Gustaf Nordbäck, CEO of Financial Times | IE Business School Corporate Learning Alliance.

Says Gustaf Nordbäck, CEO of FT | IE Corporate learning Alliance: “We share the vision of Tine Arentsen Willumsen, CEO of Above & Beyond Group, of empowering the next generation of leaders. We look forward to bringing the unique insights of the Financial Times and IE Business School to develop high-potential female talents, who pave the way as future CEOs”

Above & Beyond Group and Corporate Learning Alliance have created the Diversity Council Advanced Leadership Program for Women, together with a Fast-Track Talent Development Course, which is a one-week learning experience, ideal for developing emerging female managers and inspiring them to grow in their organization.

Says Willumsen. “The alliance brings a unique ecosystem of global professors, thought-leaders and top journalists to our DC Advanced Leadership Program for Women. Together we are set to strengthen the female leadership pipeline throughout the corporate world.”

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Diversity Council Advanced Leadership Program for Women

High-potential women from participating Diversity Council companies are selected by their management for the Advanced Leadership Program for Women, an acknowledgment of the confidence placed in them by their CEOs and HR departments. It consists of four modules lasting a total of 10 days throughout the year, combining core elements and competencies necessary to be a world-class leader.

Leadership experts from McKinsey & Co are also incorporated into the program, and with participation with other group members including Maersk, PwC, Tryg, Microsoft, Lederne, the Danish Chamber of Commerce, The Central Bank of Denmark, and the Danish Foreign Ministry.

Read Top women in business: The list keeps growing

Women and business

In an interview with Mercuri Urval, Tine Willumsen, also Founder of The Womenomics Nordic Business Conference said: “I have always viewed gender diversity as a business case – an absolute necessity for development and progress at a global scale.”

 “Today 25% of all luxury cars sold globally are bought by women, yet you only see male drivers behind the steering wheel in executive car commercials! The car companies are simply forgetting to talk to ¼ of their client segment.”

She further explained that in a similar way, international jewelry companies, still mainly have male CEOs who cannot wear or relate to their own products.

“Just imagine if no one in the management team of a car company had a driver’s license? Tomorrow’s clients and consumers are going to demand diverse teams and intelligent communication that matches the market potential and actual consumer base,” says Willumsen.

She quotes a 19-year examination of 215 Fortune 500 companies by Glass Ceiling Research Center, as showing strong correlations between a better balance of men and women in leadership positions and higher profitability.

“Gender diversity is simply a business imperative for growth and competitiveness. Stakeholders know it, and soon all companies and corporate leaders will have to acknowledge and adapt to this fact in order to remain successful.”

Read: Bridging the gender gap in the GCC is closer than you think

Willumsen’s model towards achieving that starts with defining a strategic platform, where the keys to success are a dedication from top management, diagnostics to define the company’s starting point, and definition of existing structures.

“The next, and perhaps hardest step is the execution in order to reach real changes in behavior. Here the organization in question needs to develop programs, track the behavioral changes, and actively drive transformation.”

According to Tine Willumsen, another core focus of an organization’s gender diversity efforts must be to get more women to actually enter the talent pipeline using women role models in order to build a stronger internal pool of female employees to further grow and develop.

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She wrote the book about it

 Last May, the book authored by Willumsen “Womenomics – Gender Diversity and the Rise of Female-Driven Growth Potential ” was released. The concept covers women’s influence on the global economy, both as consumers and managers.

“My wish is to contribute to the global debate on diversity from a broad perspective. The book highlights how female top management and women’s increasing economic independence affect business growth and society” says Willumsen.

The book contains contributions and cases from researchers, global brands, entrepreneurs and role models, which are grouped thematically and introduced by the author, based on her own global leadership and diverse experience as well as organizing The Womenomics Nordic Business Conference.

The target group of the professional business book is international leaders and companies in general.