- Isabella Lenarduzzi

In God we trust, all others bring data!

On December 3, JUMP, in partnership with Coca-Cola Enterprises Belgium, granted its Wo.Men@Work Award for the fourth time. The 2013 winner is Janneke van der Kamp, CEO for Novartis Belgium and Luxembourg. The jury and the public rewarded her for her commitment to gender equality in the management of her organization.

Janneke van der Kamp, CEO Novartis Belgium & Luxembourg, has reached the same rate of women managers as that of women employees, through an ambitious Human Resources program launched in 2007. Janneke is not your typical CEO: at 38, she was educated as both a chemist and a violinist. She leaves work every day at 5:30pm to be able to spend time with her two children. But she often starts working again at 8:30pm. She is mindful of stimulating her teams by emphasizing the positive.

“I strive to create an inclusive company culture, which recognizes and values individual differences, such as gender. This allows all our staff to be themselves, to give their very best and to evolve professionally, which gives them time to take care of their families and to find a sustainable work-life balance. “

Belgian women still under-represented in economic circles

In spite of blatant progress, notably with regards to political representation because of quotas, Belgium is still lagging at the 34th place in the World Economic Forum rankings for women’s participation in the economy and the opportunity given to them to use all their talents. In Belgium, unlike France, companies that do not respect the laws on professional equality do not (yet) face penalties. Within this context, an award which encourages innovative initiatives with regards to diversity takes on an even more significant dimension.

4 years of professional equality ambassador awards

Meritocracy will not be reached without an in-depth change in culture and practices within each company. Change requires passion and commitment. It is the attitude of the leaders that will inspire the rest of the management and that will guarantee achieving the objectives. This is the reason why JUMP created the Wo.Men@Work Award with Coca-Cola Enterprises Benelux in order to celebrate the leaders who are committed, and to choose the best amongst them to become the ambassador of professional equality amongst her or his peers.

Following 4 editions of the Wo.Men@Work Award  with 44 companies applying, we are able to draw the following conclusions:

  • The personal commitment of the business leaderis probably the most decisive factor for success in terms of equality. It is her or him who deeply transforms the culture and the processes within her or his organization, in order to make it more inclusive for all types of leadership. The Wo.Men@Work Award contributes to her or his notoriety by recognizing her or his action, and by broadcasting it internally as well as to other companies.
  • Since the first edition in 2010 , we have seen a very significant improvement of applications with better data concerning women in decision-making positions. It is very encouraging to note that these investments in terms of time and effort have continued in spite of the economic crisis and have led to better effectiveness of the measures taken. The nominees screened in 2013 are those who have maintained this progress towards more equality in spite of reductions in staff.
  • We also notice continuous improvement of HR practices and policies. There is an increasing number of measures implemented to compensate the obstacles faced by women in their career progression:  development programs specifically aimed at women, women’s networks or mixed networks dedicated to empowering women, flexibility, support measures for active maternity and (more recently) active paternity, visibility of women, internal and/or external mentoring and sponsoring, and lastly measures which aim at closing the wage gap when it is necessary.
  • These measures apply to an increasing number of people within companies.
  • The best results appear when the topic of professional equality becomes strategic, when it is supported and evaluated by the company’s management and implemented through a coordinated set of measures by the HR teams.