My Purpose & How It Supports My Leadership

diversity and inclusion inclusive leadership working parents Nov 02, 2020

By Deborah Croft

I recently tuned into one of the excellent sessions at the LEAD Conference on the subject of Inclusive Leadership by Tim Munden who echoed our philosophy at Thriving Talent that in 21st Century Leadership, having a clear purpose which you can stand by and your teams believe in, is key to success. 

I found my professional purpose in 2010 when I relocated to Switzerland, and enabling caring and career became my mantra!

Having witnessed too many professional women not return to work post a maternity leave, leave within the first 12 months or opt-out of promotion (invisible attrition - the hardest one to measure but most common) - I knew I couldn't sit by and watch - especially when men in Switzerland often had more time off for moving house than having a baby. 

So, 180 degree career swing, merger of businesses with an inspiring woman Natalie Wilkins and a bold goal set in 2015 to "empower 1 million parents by end of 2020". Why? Because if organisations embrace this topic, gender parity at all levels of leadership is accelerated and we can concentrate our efforts purely on inclusion. 

In this year’s 4th edition of the Advance & HSG Gender Intelligence Report, it talks to the Age trap at work: dramatic employment rates gap slows down women’s promotion (P.7). The research reflects what we have been sharing with organisations for several years:

“The majority of promotions happen during the rush hour of life, when most people start a family: between 31 and 40. Looking at employment rates in this age group, there is a striking drop in women’s employment percentage whereas men’s stay the same.

This is most likely connected with family care that is still largely taken on by women in Switzerland. As long as full-time is the norm in management and care work distributed unevenly, this structural disadvantage poses one of the biggest hurdles to women’s careers. We are convinced, this can change.”

At Thriving Talent, we know it can change through our work with many organisations and our clients share some of the best practices in the case studies in the report

What is the most effective approach? Take a holistic view and consider the whole ecosystem - not simply policy. I know I have written on this topic many times but it never hurts to re-affirm that making #caringandcareer your human capital strategy is a proven accelerator for gender equality.

However, the point behind my writing was linked to the importance of Purpose in 21st Century Leadership. When we first started our work, many people said that Switzerland was not ready for the conversations and solutions we wanted to propose - “the apero has not even been served” was my favourite reaction! 

It didn’t matter - yes it was hard work and for the first couple of years, we had to run both businesses for cashflow, it was worth and still continues to be worth it.

When you are so strongly grounded in your purpose, you don’t give up and you don’t let your ego get in the way! Natalie and I remind our team of this purpose on a weekly basis, so that as a group we are connected to our common goal and it is a motivator and energiser.

Every week on LinkedIn, I am going to share the small and big steps organisations are taking which demonstrate their commitment to enabling #caringandcareer. Why? 

  1. It keeps me connected to our purpose and acts as a reminder to the whole team of how the work we are doing at Thriving Talent is making a difference - 21st century leadership after all; and
  2. I want to show that every organisation can take actions to change the current landscape, so that we won’t hear the same pain points and challenges voiced when professionals want to embrace a caring role and have a fulfilling career.

Interestingly, in 2011 my work set out as supporting Parents but over the years, this has also evolved - our work today is about helping organisations create cultures that enable all of us to fulfil caring responsibilities, at different life stages.  

I look forward to sharing what being on purpose looks like as the weeks unfold and how that plays into our mission of making a positive, sustainable difference to the ways of working, so that thriving is a possibility!

Tim Munden - thanks for the reminder and provoking this idea. 

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