VALORE D – helping women leaders build careers through global agility
How can we build on women’s natural talent for working across borders to support their leadership career path?
VALORE D (Valuing Women) is Italy’s leading association to promote female talent and support women in rising to leadership positions in the corporate world. One of our clients on the board noticed that VALORE D didn’t offer any developmental programs to boost women’s ability to lead in an international context. We were invited to support the mission of the association by contributing in various programs to accelerate skill building for talented women from 40 different companies in their membership.
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To develop and deliver in both English and Italian a series of one-day workshops on Global Agility to develop an international mindset. Back in 2009 we had conducted some research on WorldWork’s database and had looked at significant differences between men and women’s approach to ‘being international’. We had found that women tended to give similar emphasis in areas of international competency to those who had lived abroad for at least 18 months, irrespective of gender. Women tended to show an intrinsic expatriate mindset even if they had never had such an experience. However, our search into the number of women selected for expatriate assignments was showing on average only 15%. Some have suggested that this is because they had built up experience and skills in ‘living as a foreigner with different implicit rules of the game’ in their own companies in their own country.
The challenge was how to build on this ‘natural head start’ in navigating the VUCA environment abroad with the potential to also apply it back into their home country context – after all, we have been noticing that successful expats bring back VUCA navigation skills into any fast moving and unpredictable business context. The aim was to give these women a more explicit understanding of what they were doing well and with other partners in the program help them to transfer that skillset more assertively back into the organisation to gain visibility and recognition as having greater change-ability.
HOW WE RESPONDED
Our senior associate, Louise Evans, and TCO International’s senior partner David Trickey developed a hybrid program combining Louise’s impactful 5 Chairs; Five Choices model with our own Global Agility foundation path. This customised experiential program leads to an accelerated awareness of what is needed to lead the trust building process, manage potential conflicts and create value out of different perspectives across cultures.
To date we have delivered the program to over 60 women in middle management positions identified as talents. We will be continuing with another 100 participants over 2017. Participants comment on “an excellent and highly useful course with a great blend of theory and practice”, with an average course rating of 4.7 out of 5.
This project has also led us to support Valore D with its specific member organisations on projects to disseminate awareness of the impact of diversity on bottom line productivity. This supports the continuous research findings which show that when companies get engagement right, everyone benefits, but when they don’t, senior women feel the pain disproportionately. Other research shows that there is a significant link between gender and country diversity and innovation, especially when the organisation is large and complex – as is the case with most of Valore D’s members. This is a cause with impact and so in solidarity with Valore D’s mission we offer our services at half our normal company rates.