GovernanceLAB

WCD's mission is to inspire a new generation of women.

January 25, 2016
groepsfoto WCD

Only few women reach "the top" in the Netherlands. Too few. The Dutch score particularly badly in this respect against the neighboring countries. Some of those countries have a quota with regards to hiring women. The question is whether such a quota is desirable. Moreover, the most equal gender ratio should not be a competition, but an end in itself.

The more diverse the group of decision makers, the healthier the decision-making process, regardless of its level. A good example is the IMF. According to its own research, the financial crisis took it completely by surprise because of the lack of diversity and tunnel vision in the organization's group thinking. Of course, diversity is much more than just gender ratio, but the point is clear.

One of the goals of the Dutch branch of the international Women Corporate Directors Foundation (WCD) is to help the next generation of female professionals reach senior positions. One of the tools we use is the WCD program, which was developed together with TIAS.  

Role models
Prof. Dr. Mijntje Lückerath, TIAS Professor of Corporate Governance and a member of WCD, explains the role of the program: "The WCD program brings women, mostly from middle management, in contact with role models: successful women with a track record in senior positions in various organizations and institutions. There is too often a lack of female role models in the field. There are plenty of male role models, but to form a complete picture women also need other women so that they can follow their examples – to observe how they make decisions, how they take on challenges, and how they solve problems."

The program consists of five sessions. Each session begins with a 90-minute lecture on a specific topic by a TIAS teacher followed by a guest speaker from the field who talks about her experiences. All speakers have a long track record at the executive level, often in leading organizations. Examples include Corinne Vigreux (TomTom), Pamela Boumeester (Ziggo, Heijmans, Ordina, and others), Margot Scheltema (Shell Netherlands, TNT, ASR, Triodos, Schiphol, and more), and Alexandra Schaapveld (Société Général, Vallourec SA, and FMO). 

The speakers present a case from their own experience and answer questions from the participants. The sessions are held in a very confidential atmosphere. The participants discuss examples which would not necessarily be printed in the newspaper. 

Fun 
To fully understand the essence of the WCD program, it may also be important to make clear what it is definitely not. This program is not about glass ceilings, equal treatment, or the urgent need for a "female touch" in the boardroom. Lückerath: "There are countless reasons why we are seeing fewer women than men in the top positions. Those arguments range from a bias in hiring and promotion policies to the lack of the economic necessity among women to maintain or persevere with a career.  If and when such issues are addressed in the WCD program, this is often implied."

Perhaps, this emphasis on content and the confidential atmosphere contribute to the success of the program. The program has a high rating of a 4.5 on a scale of five. The presence, involvement, and openness of the female leaders from the field do exactly what the program is created for: they inspire. It appears, judging by the fun that the speakers seem to be having during the meetings, that the inspiration travels both ways.

TIAS Women Corporate Directors Program
Mijntje Lückerath is the Academic Director of the TIAS Women Corporate Directors Program. This program provides ambitious women with inspiration and insights to help them reach top management positions. Click here for more information. 

 
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