We know that women are leaders of communities, teams, organisations and governments. Indeed, for successful decision-making, innovation, and financial outcomes we need women in senior roles to increase collective intelligence and reduce groupthink.
However, we also know that currently zero out of 22 UN agencies in Geneva are led by women; one out of 15 Permanent Representatives to the Security Council are women; just four percent of CEOs are women and worldwide the average representation in Parliaments is 23%. There are barriers to women’s successful career progression and they include insufficient role models, social stereotypes, individual and systemic biases; problems that require more effective policies, processes and training for women and men.
Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto, co-founder of the International Gender Champions Network and Former Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN in Geneva, and Ambassador Foo, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the UN in Geneva, identified a need to provide additional support for mid-career women in Geneva. They approached the GCSP-CCL Leadership Alliance to create a course that develops concrete skills in influencing; leading teams; developing personal resilience, and strategies for career progression. In November 2016, 25 women from across Missions, international organisations and civil society came together over two days to learn, and share challenges and strategies for career progression with senior mentors and coaches. They also developed a network with peers and senior figures from our Fellowship Initiative in the heart of Geneva, which we continue to support. The 2016 course was 100% oversubscribed, and following the very positive feedback from the participants and organisations, we will be offering Enhancing Leadership for Women’ again this October 5th-6th. In line with the ‘GCSP way’, we will be seeking a professional and geographic diversity to bring a broad range of experiences into the room, and will offer a discretionary tuition waiver for a number of participants. Applications are encouraged by 5th August to qualify for a course fee discount or tuition waiver.
As male and female leaders, we need to be pro-active in creating a more inclusive, supportive culture. There is recent evidence that organisations that have an overall culture of growth and development, with a climate of learning and mutual support and viable career paths for women, see the highest levels of diversity and gender parity. Creating that culture requires us to invest in our staff, give them time and space to learn, and develop their skills. Sharing perspectives and experiences across sectors and silos also helps us to develop more collaborative leadership and innovative solutions to the global problems we face. I encourage you to support talented women within your organisation in this process: let us bridge the gendered leadership gap together.