people, technology, and change

Leadership Development for Women

leadership-for-womenThe Company: Sun Life Assurance (later absorbed by AXA)

Overview: Develop and deliver a leadership training program for women to increase their leadership skills and participation in management roles throughout the company.

The Challenge: Sunlife was undergoing a major cultural and organisational change program to move it from being a traditional process-driven bureaucracy, to an outcomes-focused responsive and flexible ‘learning organisation’. Although 40% of the company’s employees were women, participation in senior management roles was very low – less than 3%.  The company desired to empower their total workforce and recognised that to do this they would need to apply special effort to developing leadership confidence and skills for their female employees.

The Outcome: A Leadership Skills for Women program was developed over several months by Cathryn Doney and Hugh Vernon, built on a Hearts and Minds framework and in consultation with eminent experts and thought leaders, including Bob Garrett (The Learning Organisation) and Jerry Rhodes and Sue Thame (The Colours of Your Mind). A pilot program was delivered to a group of 8 women within the IT Division, and then later across the whole of the IT Division. The program was well received and highly acclaimed, and subsequently delivered across the whole of the company.

Three years later,the number of women in senior management roles had shifted from less than 3% to 16%. The program went on to become a nationally accredited course.