“For me a professional network is a group of people who support you in achieving your professional and personal goals. They listen, share knowledge and experience, support you in your development and advocate for you.” QA Eefke Jansen, Chief Executive and Founder of She does it, Brussels, Belgium

Eefke Jansen, Chief Executive and Founder of She does it, Brussels, Belgium

Please tell us a little about yourself and your role as Chief Executive of She does it.

As a passionate advocate for gender equality with 20 years consulting, management and entrepreneurial experience in 4 different countries, I partner with organizations to retain and advance their (aspiring) female leaders.

During my 12 years in consulting and managerial roles in the Dutch healthcare sector, I led projects focused on delivering more efficient and effective health services and was responsible for teams with up to 100 employees.

In 2015 I moved abroad and changed careers as I wanted to do more with the theme of gender equality. I’m now a Certified Co-Active Coach (CPCC), a licensed Firework Career Coach and I hold the PCC credential from the International Coach Federation.

My services include one-to-one coaching and group coaching programs for female leaders at all levels. I also run bespoke workshops.

I’m a mum of two, love running and am based in Brussels.

What does diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you and why is it so important?

For me it’s about creating systems that are attractive to everyone and in which everyone has equal development opportunities.

Diverse organizations perform better through a variety of leadership styles, a higher level of creativity and innovation, and better investment decisions.

They become a more desirable place to work for and attract more and better talent. It’s a virtuous circle that powers any business.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

If we want to increase the number of female leaders in organizations we have to work on different systemic challenges. There is no silver bullet.

Think about for example, unconscious biases in all HR-processes (recruitment, evaluation and promotion), stigmatization of flexible working, the ‘ideal worker’ stereotype, the amount of role models and access to informal networks.

I also want to mention the challenge of the ‘broken rung’. Missing the first managerial step (‘the broken rung’) is in general a big obstacle women face on the path to senior leadership.

The age where employees make their first step up to manager (30-39) is the same age at which women often become pregnant and take maternity leave. More women get stuck at the entry level and fewer women (72 versus 100 men) become managers.

This has a long-term impact on the pipeline and is a risk in getting to a minimum of 40% women in senior levels and being able to create a real gender inclusive culture.

In my opinion supporting parenthood, in a tailored way for both women and men, is a key element for fixing this ‘broken rung’ and improving gender diversity.

What is your definition of a professional network? And what does it mean to build one?

For me a professional network is a group of people who support you in achieving your professional and personal goals. They listen, share knowledge and experience, support you in your development and advocate for you.

Networks are a precious resource for (aspiring) leaders. Especially for women as they face cultural and political hurdles that men typically do not. Organizations support their female employees by organizing peer support opportunities, like Employee Resource Groups, or allowing them in joining women-only events. Besides that, they often offer mentoring and sponsorship.

This peer support, mentoring and sponsorship are beneficial for women’s career advancement. And it’s a great route to start with. But, being paired through official channels is less powerful than when women create their own strategic career circle with freely chosen ‘career champions’. Besides your manager, you could think of a couple of mentors, a sponsor, a coach and a couple of peers.

Who would you like to include in your strategic career circle?

Connect with them and suggest to schedule recurring meet ups.

Surround yourself with people who energize you and would mention your name in a room full of opportunities!

We are delighted to have you join the summit as speaker, what do you hope attendees will get from attending the day?

Social support is key to enable women to work at their best.

Therefore, I hope that the attendees will use the breaks to get to know each other and will ask each other the question ‘How can I help you’?

This is an easy and fun way to build new connections that last.

Any final thoughts?

I wish all the women an inspiring day and I look forward to connecting!

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