Investing in female leadership
Katrin Kipp, senior business manager at SThree in Germany, discusses her experience on the company’s diversity programme ‘IdentiFy’, which aims to encourage more women into leadership roles.
Addressing a lack of women, minority groups and people from disadvantaged backgrounds at every job level is a challenge many companies are now facing up to. From a gender perspective, businesses across the world are attempting to address the lack of females in senior roles in a bid to strike a better balance and create truly equal opportunities. New programmes and schemes which embrace diversity and help women in particular, are driving change across the world. At SThree, this is a major priority and the company is investing in its IdentiFy initiative to help more women reach the top.
In 2017, I applied to be part of the IdentiFy scheme and thankfully I was chosen as one of the women who would benefit from a massive investment in my business ability and personal skills. The process was tough, with 40 places available on the scheme and only those applicants who were on track or performing above their targets were selected to take part. I was assessed on my answers to questions on management style, performance and other key factors, and this allowed me to showcase my character, talent and ideas, and how they fit within SThree’s culture.
We had a three-day kick-off event at the LinkedIn headquarters in London where all 40 women from places including; New York, Sydney, Singapore and throughout Europe met for the first time. We all had the chance to get to know one another and learn why each participant decided to take part in the scheme. We were also given a preview of our learning plan, which spanned a full year and covered key areas including ‘impact’, ‘lead’, ‘connect’ and ‘solve’.
Over the next 12 months we were given a huge amount of support by SThree. We learned about making decisions that have positive impacts, standing out from the crowd and ensuring our message is heard. We were given robust leadership tools which continue to help us lead, strategically prioritise, bring people on a journey and deliver meaningful change. Making connections and being part of a thriving and collaborative network is a huge advantage to any aspiring business leader and we were given training and support on how to maximise our current contacts while building and developing new relationships.
IdentiFy and other similar initiatives are all about equipping people with the tools to cope with any business challenge. Having taken part in the programme, I now have a set of useful strategies which help me respond positively when under pressure. I’m also more resilient and have improved my problem solving and stress-management techniques.
More than just a training programme
Training and personal development are just two elements when it comes to creating a leader. While these elements are fundamental, there are so many other factors that can be used to aid development. We were given different materials to read, which helped us to recognise unconscious bias and mistakes that can sabotage careers, and which also provided useful business insights from women who made it to the top. All 40 women had access to a ‘strengths coach’ who helped us with self-awareness and self-confidence, and this had a hugely positive impact on all of us.
To complement this, each of the participants was given the opportunity to work on a big international project in which we were able to use our strengths to help define the future of SThree and make it an even better place to work. We were also given a mentor from the senior management team and they helped us develop by pushing us out of our comfort zones and providing us with useful business and career advice.
Investing in future female leaders
This amazing investment that SThree made in us is something everyone on the programme is very thankful for. We were given the opportunity to meet inspiring people while reflecting on our own careers, ambitions and strengths. It was an incredible experience and has really set each of the candidates up for further success.
The IdentiFy initiative didn’t stop after one year and we are all helping women to succeed in our regions while helping SThree to be a more diverse workplace. This year, the next round of IdentiFy is taking place and I’m looking forward to seeing some of our top female talent taking the chance to be the best version of themselves.