Case Study: Involving Top Management Levels in shaping the Gender Diversity agenda

If you feel you need to reshape your Gender Diversity strategy and want to make sure top management is not only on board but actively engaged, why don’t you run workshops on the business case & strategy design with your first levels? One large country organisation of a global firm did that and received detailed input and lists of active supporters with whom they proceed.

Many items of effective Gender Diversity strategies are easy to put in place, to improve and to maintain or sustain. One element, however, continues to be a challenge to address and manage: The Corporate Culture and more specifically the Leadership Culture. Not only are invisible norms (by nature) difficult to identify, the upper echelons of an organisation are notoriously demanding while they find it difficult to see how their own behaviours – or changes thereof – could and should contribute to bringing about progress and change.


When asked about the proposed curriculum for a workshop series, we recommended to focus part 1 on Diversity & Inclusion as a value-chain, and on specific dynamics around gender (this was the required focus) in part 2. For part 3, we offered a SWOT exercise (based on a briefing on Unconscious Biases) followed by strategy group work resulting in recommendation for the future implementation of Gender & Diversity. At the end, each of the participants wrote down their personal action items relating to the strategic framework and they indicated, if they were interested and willing to participate personally in future activities or initiatives. This proposal of ours was selected and we were tasked with delivering workshops to management levels 1 through 4. According to the cultural specifics, we mixed levels 1 & 2 and 3 & 4 respectively in the roll out.


Feedback and results both during and post the workshops were outstandingly positive. Participants, most of whom were highly educated, mostly intellectual and evidence-driven valued the research-based content and the utilisation of models which reflected their everyday business approach. They also appreciated the group work and the open-ended questions they were asked to work on (in a given framework). Finally, the balance of broad Diversity content and specific gender focus helped to generate buy-in.


Metrics of the workshop success included number and quality of the recommendations of the group work, number and quality of personal action items and the number of volunteers generated from each of the leadership levels. All results exceeded expectations. “Over many years, we have observed that evidence-based content and models resonate extremely well with managers or executives – if they are combined with practical exercises”, Diversity guru, Michael Stuber, comments the outcomes. His breadth and depth of experience and his ability to add real-life examples might, however, also contribute to the success.