International Women’s Day: Let’s have a look at our goals and challenges

Michel Bloch Andersen
Deloitte
On 8 March, women all over the world gather to discuss challenges of making gender equality a reality. To Talent Leader in Deloitte, Camilla Kruse, it is a good occasion to reflect on the achievements we have made in Deloitte so far on the equality agenda.
Camilla Kruse, Talent Leader at Deloitte Denmark

What thoughts come to mind on International Women’s Day?
“I think it is a good occasion to take stock of the past year’s achievements: are we taking the right approach to gender equality at Deloitte? How far are we when it comes to female representation? We also need to look at inclusion, respect and diversity in general.”

“At Deloitte, we have decided that women are our primary focus when it comes to diversity. March 8 is a good day to consider whether we set the right goals, and whether these goals are ambitious enough. Also, it is the perfect time to look at what actions that are needed in the year to come to achieve these goals.”

About International Women’s Day

The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in the U.S. in 1909 to honour the 1908 garment workers’ strike in New York. In 1977, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution designating 8 March as International Women’s Day. It is now a day where organisations around the world build support for women’s rights and rally for greater participation of women in political, social, and economic arenas. At Deloitte, we continue to invest in International Women’s Day to promote our commitment to gender equality.

How are we doing so far?
“We are committed to reaching a 20 per cent representation of women in the Deloitte partner group by the year 2020. Today, the female representation has reached 14 per cent. It is an improvement, but there is still a lot to be done.”

“However, since last year’s International Women’s Day, we have succeeded in getting equality on the agenda in every business unit. In the promotion process, Business unit leaders are actively looking at the female representation. This has shown great results already and brought many interesting discussions about how we can support our female employees in their development.”

“However, it is not enough to make partner programmes and promotion processes. We are working on creating an inclusive working environment for all talents in our firm.”

Also read: If she can see it, she can be it

Work Agility and Happy Parents

The new HR initiative, Work Agility and Happy Parents, is aimed at making it easier to be a Deloitte employee after becoming a parent as well as creating a more agile work environment. Amongst other things, it includes the right to paid leave for a child’s first three sick days for parents with children below the age of 14, a talk about the working arrangement the employee would like to come back to (backboarding) and the opportunity to join a network of other Deloitters on maternity/paternity leave. In addition, all Deloitters have the option to buy ten additional vacation days a year or to go on leave for 12 weeks.

How are we doing that?
“Last year, we launched the initiative Work Agility and Happy Parents. Today, a year later, the number of women leaving Deloitte after maternity leave is dropping. However, we also see that some adjustments need to be done to achieve the same results when it comes to our male employees. This is a challenge we are looking into. It shows that we still have some work to do finding the right balance between career and family life for each individual.”

“As an organisation we need to make room for parenthood and family life, and programmes are only part of the solution. Good leadership is another. Each leader has a role to play in finding the right balance and understanding the employee’s expectations, wishes and capabilities after becoming a parent. It may not be possible to work as many hours as before. However, many parents become more effective and better at planning things, which is a great advantage.”

Which other challenges are we facing?
“Respect and inclusion are very important focus areas. As individuals we need to look at our perception of people and the possible prejudices towards women. There are very different perceptions of what makes a good employee. What results do one need to accomplish? Do we all need the same competences to be successful – or could there be differences? They are all questions we need to consider.”

“The more I zoom in on this, the more I see a difference in the way we approach men and women. It is very interesting to have debates on this topic to avoid sticking to our own perceptions of what diversity and equality are.”

Also read: Young Women Challenge 2018 – Bright young talents exchange on gender diversity

How are we debating this at Deloitte?
“We are debating diversity and inclusion in many different settings. Recently, I welcomed the participants of Deloitte Global’s event on inclusion for our LGTB network. They gathered to discuss what kind of setting we look into when it comes to respect and inclusion. That is an extremely interesting discussion. We also hosted the female network Mandag Morgen Business Kvinder’s debate about the upcoming general election. They discussed democracy, gender equality and women’s role in the election.”

“In my opinion, the different debates are all connected. It all comes down to acting respectfully towards each other. It is, of course, a long process that cannot be changed in a blink of an eye, but something we must focus on in the years to come.”

Who has the overall responsibility to make this a reality?
“Of course we all share a common responsibility, but in the end it all comes down to how we perform good leadership. Our Executive team lead the way and set the right direction. From here, it can be executed all the way down in the organisation. There is no doubt that Anders Dons’ focus on this agenda is crucial for our success.”

“However, there has to be a match between what Executive prioritises and what the employees ask for. That is why I meet with a talent board in Consulting on a quarterly basis to receive input on what they hear from our people in the organisation; for instance, regarding our diversity initiatives or questions related to our leading performance approach. As a talent leader, this forum is essential.