Leading companies in Switzerland are recognizing that it just makes good business sense to tap into the entire talent pool by hiring and promoting more women into management and creating equal opportunities for diverse talent. Nevertheless, we still have a long way to go in granting women an equitable share of more senior leadership roles. Recent research conducted by the Competence Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI) and Advance as part of their annual Gender Intelligence Report shows that men on average still hold over 80% of top management and board positions in Swiss-based companies. Although women make up 50% of all non-management positions in the workforce, their numbers diminish with every rung in a company’s organizational hierarchy.

It’s no surprise then that women tend to perceive promotion practices in Swiss companies as less transparent than men. A recent qualitative career survey conducted by the CCDI and Advance among employers in Switzerland found that men generally perceive promotion practices in management as more clear, transparent, and fair than women. This gender perception gap widens as careers progress: Men view promotion practices for senior management positions as increasingly fair and transparent the older they are, while women’s perceptions become more pessimistic the longer they are ‘in the game’ – or rather ‘on the bench’.

When it comes to positions of power and influence in Swiss business, it’s unfortunately still a male-dominated world, because traditional career paths are largely designed with full-time (mostly male) breadwinners in mind. While our top priority should be to encourage employers to ‘change the system’, e.g. by introducing flexible career paths and rethinking what makes a ‘good leader’, it’s also important to develop and promote female talent, for example through mentoring and leadership skills training.

Both of these are central components of the Aiming Higher Women’s Leadership Programme of the University of St. Gallen. The online seminar is designed to give women the opportunity to identify and reflect on their personal strengths, develop new leadership skills, and benefit from a mentor. Offering the programme exclusively for women creates an environment where participants can converse openly with their peers on topics and challenges that many female leaders face in the workplace.

Alumnae of the programme attest to the benefits of this unique format for women. They appreciate for example,

“the secure space it provides for women to learn, develop & grow within their chosen career”

as well as the

“open and honest exchange with the other participants, discussing personal experiences together and finding solutions to the similar issues we all deal with. The discussions were very inspiring and will help me to move forward in my professional journey.”

With the Aiming Higher Women’s Leadership Programme, we are doing our part to inspire and equip more women to realize their full potential and step into more senior roles. And we’re supporting companies in their efforts to do the same by offering tuition discounts when 2+ employees register from the same company. It’s an ideal way for companies to promote and retain the best female talent in their organizations and bring more women into leadership positions.

The 7-week programme enters its third year this fall with a kick-off event on 7 October. For more details, visit our programme website.

About the author(s)

Melissa Reynolds 14x18px 26102017 1

Melissa Zaugg-Reynolds Senior Programme Manager Diversity & Leadership Programmes


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