Women taking charge

Skrevet af Ridhima Kapur - Foto: Attila Danku - 4. februar 2008 - 10:110 kommentarer
The chicks are taking charge, boys! Keri Nelleman and Signe Kristensen are fully focused on female leadership potential and equa


Are women lagging behind in the race to become successful leaders? Female Leader Focus is here to help women overcome barriers in the workplace and be better leaders


Europe is a demographic time bomb, ticking ominously. Lower birth rates, leading to smaller labour markets, have given governments a great deal to worry about. After all, a decrease in the workforce is equal to a decrease in the supply of leaders for the future. In such situations, equality and the lack of women in the workforce have become major issues in both European and national agendas, so now the focus lies on developing female leaders.

Schismatically the question has always been whether or not the female qualities and talents equip women to get a full share of what has traditionally been a male role in society. Even in the management text books we read in business school, the protagonist – the manager – generally tends to be a ‘he’. Lacking the long history in this role that men enjoy, women are often challenged by certain common practices such as networking. If they are to fill leadership positions with confidence, women must further develop their management and leadership skills.


Facing the reality

In Denmark too, like the rest of Europe, there is a lack of equality in the business world. No one knows this better than the many female graduates, CBS churns out every year. The harsh reality of what women are facing in the present day job market has led eight ambitious young women from CBS to establish Female Leader Focus (or FLF as it is fondly called).

Like most other organizations of our time, FLF too has its origins on the internet. Starting as a humble little discussion group on Facebook, it has grown into a network counting 250 members. Now the group even has its own website (www.flf.nu) where members can discuss issues, post articles of interest and generally interact with one another.

Supported by CBS Students, formerly DSR, FLF works towards coaching female students to become competent and talented leaders and removing barriers in the workplace that impede women.

- The management position is regarded as a male one. What is needed is a change in the idea of what management is so that both men and women can subscribe to it, says Kikki Lauritzen, one of the founding board members.


To sensationalize or not

- FLF can make a difference while people are still studying – before they compartmentalize themselves and others. The debate that is needed is how to be a good leader. However, before that can happen we need an equal number of female and male leaders so that we can get a clear perspective. The discussion of men versus women is not the point. It sensationalizes the whole issue of leadership, says FLF-member Signe Kristensen.

This viewpoint is supported by the organizations’ key tagline, ‘Focus on competencies and talents instead of gender’.

In this regard, naming the organization Female Leader Focus might not help in de-sensationalizing the issue. If anything, it makes the organization seem rather schizophrenic. Members are often asked why they have chosen such a sexist approach, and they react vehemently to this question.

- Our target group is women. What else can we call it? exclaims board member Kikki.

Members are very adamant in reassuring their surroundings that FLF is not just another feminist liberation front. Membership does not entail bra-burning or any such gesture of solitude. Men are welcome to join and develop their leadership skills as well, and as Kikki proudly tells us, FLF already has a few male members.


So far, so good

Apart from that little issue, this six month old organization, like most toddlers, has other teething problems. Its website is presently only in Danish and does not cater to international students (though they promise an English language version soon). Also, they are not as well known around CBS as they would like to be.

Despite these hiccups, they have come a long way since they started. Membership has grown rapidly, as more women sign up at the website, and because FLF also organized a number of meetings last year, including a seminar on gender equality in the EU.

FLF has big plans for the future, kicking off 2008 with a seminar on the 27th of February, facilitated by Morgendagens Heltinder on how to network and how important it is to network in order to improve your position on the job market.

For the ladies (and few gentlemen) of FLF, they are willing to develop themselves as leaders and achieve equality in the workplace sooner, rather than later. Hopefully, the future will see us being led by neither men from Mars or women from Venus, but by leaders from the planet Earth, only defined by talent and good leadership qualities.


Female Leader Focus

To become a member and find out more, sign up at www.flf.nu or join the Female Leader Focus group on Facebook.