- Isabella Lenarduzzi

Messages from JUMP Forum 2010

I am delighted to announce that this year’s JUMP Forum went without a hitch. Last Thursday 29th April over 500 people, Women (and men!), turned up at the Hotel Van der Valk at Diegem for the 4th consecutive year, to listen to the inspirational speeches, attend the various workshops and pick up some useful tools to advance their careers, as well as beauty tips courtesy of the Helena Rubenstein’s Make-up Master classes. And, as if all that wasn’t enough to keep our participants interested, we were blessed with warm, sunny weather for cocktails on the terrace.

On a more serious note, only 10% of those attending were men. So there’s something I will already be looking to improve on for next year because, everyone was in agreement, that we need more men if we are to ensure better gender-balanced business in the future. As Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, CEO of 20-First, Consultant, Coach and Author, put it: “Gender balance presents one of the world’s biggest opportunities for the economy and for society,” but companies need to harness the opportunities and pick from the talent pool of women as well as men.

Some speakers offered advice to women for getting ahead in business and reaching their full potential. A fact that was reiterated by Mirella Visser, Founder and CEO of the Centre for Inclusive Leadership, author of ‘De zijde route naar de top’, who added: “Men and Women in leadership should be united to create prosperity for society and for companies.” Her advice for women at the top or aspiring to get there: “Lead by example!”

But it was the debate on ‘To quota or not to quota?’ that divided opinion as much among speakers as among participants. Elin Hurvenes, Founder of the Professional Boards Forum, was on hand to tell us about the Norwegian story and how the country went from 6% of Women on corporate business boards in 2002 to 45% in 2010. She even added that although she believed quotas were unfortunate they were necessary as it would otherwise take us, through organic growth, 100 years to get where Norway is today and where the rest of us want to be in a few years from now.

Whatever your views on quotas, the overriding message of this year’s Forum was clear: “Tapping into 50% of the workforce is not a luxury. It is a necessity.” Thanks Lieve Verplancke, Managing Director of Bristol-Myers Squibb, for that quote. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Thanks again to everyone who attended this year’s JUMP Forum and especially to all the speakers who took the time to come and help celebrate the extraordinary impact that Women everywhere can, and are, having on the economy.

Take a look at our website to see the pictures, the video, and in a few days the interviews with the speakers will be posted …