• INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Developing growth of talented women in business

    This is a spotlight story on ACCELERATE, ABSTRACT’s award winning career development programme that is changing people’s lives and making the corporate world a better and fairer place.

    ABSTRACT say: “It all started in the UK but has progressed onto three continents and it does what no central intervention, quota or target can do…it gives the individual the tools, the inspiration and the confidence to achieve their career goals.”

    The ACCELERATE Programme has helped a major FTSE 100 financial services company achieve its gender equality aims for women in senior roles, one year ahead of schedule. ABSTRACT has collected destination data, based on thousands of participants of the programme, showing evidence of the following;

    • Two thirds of ACCELERATE delegates are promoted or seconded into a higher position or develop wider roles and responsibilities during the programme.
    • Many delegates negotiate better pay or apply internally and/or externally for new roles or board positions following the programme.
    • The programme results in measurable increases in their self- assessed levels of confidence, their engagement in organisational politics and their resilience, although we also discovered that women tend to already demonstrate high levels of resilience!
    • All delegates are able to develop a personal brand statement and attract new mentors and some sponsors as a key action from the programme.

    David Nikolich, co-founder of ABSTRACT and the architect of ACCELERATE explains that “Back in 2013, ABSTRACT was selected by the Financial Times as research partners on the subject of ‘Women in Business’. The overall aim was to understand why there were so few Executive women in the FTSE 100? Through our diligent research via many interviews, we discovered that the very few powerful women were behaving like the many powerful men at the top of the business world… Strong and Ruthless! Further research made us realise that leading through high command and control was the adopted successful formula for the past 150 years and that the system continued to support the system in this mode. However, it was becoming clear that it was less about gender and more about creating the new leaders of tomorrow who were… Strong and Considerate!

    David Nikolich, Co-founder & Managing Director of ABSTRACT

    We identified five main areas of difference between what these successful business folk do and where others tend to either disengage with or deliberately avoid. We developed each of these into a standalone module under the banner of ‘ACCELERATE’ and finished it off with a sixth module to consolidate the learning”.

    The critical topics that ABSTRACT identified were;

    • Building and maintaining confidence
    • Engaging with organisational politics
    • Developing personal brand
    • Seeking sponsors and utilising mentors
    • Identifying transferable skills and opportunities
    • Managing change and recalibrating

    The Primary Objectives of ACCELERATE are to;

    • Develop the talent pool at middle management.
    • Promote gender diversity.
    • Help close the gender pay gap.
    • Encourage business area cross fertilisation.
    • Build an equal opportunities succession plan for the good of all businesses.

    But ABSTRACT also discovered several additional positive unintended outcomes that created a ‘ripple affect’ with participants and their organisations, such as;

    This Programme can be applied successfully to all women cohorts in order to move the dial, to mixed gender groups or to any underrepresented group.

    When delivered as a cohort based approach, over a period of up to 9 months, with participants blended from across an organisation, this provides them with a ready made support network, as well as access into senior leaders who may act as potential mentors and, ultimately, sponsors.

    Delegates themselves become mentors, sponsors and role models to others, paying it forward and helping to lift others as they climb.

    A suitable ‘business challenge’ can be introduced, giving delegates the opportunity to test their skills and work collaboratively across the organisation to fix a real life business problem, engendering creativity and showcasing their talents to senior leaders in a structured environment.

    Exposure to boards outside of their organisation, for example with voluntary, educational or charity boards, can provide valuable experience, help to build transferable skills, provide external perspective and can also be very rewarding.

    Finally, we discovered that the problems to solve and the solutions are universal and have no geographical borders. ACCELERATE has been embraced by delegates around the globe.

    David proudly explains that “ABSTRACT change people’s lives through our ACCELERATE Programme and we would love to hear from you as we are curious to find out more about your problems to solve and how we can help you and your people.”

    You can contact ABSTRACT at info@abstractuk.co.uk or via their websites;

    ABSTRACT https://www.abstractuk.co.uk

    Further details about the Accelerate Programme can be found here; https://www.accelerateprogramme.com

    AUTHOR

    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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