Welcome to the Wo+Men’s Leadership Initiative (WLI). At Cambridge Judge Business School, we believe that diversity is central to fostering a productive and enriching learning environment. Our students, faculty and staff come from very diverse educational and industry backgrounds, with over 40 nationalities represented. Gender diversity is a very important component of diversity. The WLI was formed to provide thought leadership in addressing those challenges inherent in fostering a gender-balanced workforce globally, through cutting-edge research, innovative programmes and forums for dialogue and action.
Why did we establish WLI?
There is growing evidence that gender diversity in corporate boards, executive teams and organisational workforce fosters innovation, reduces corporate misconduct and enhances financial returns. Yet, although women have made great strides in business careers, their rise to senior leadership has been slow because of the lack of a strong pipeline of qualified female board and senior management candidates. The WLI is committed to working closely with corporations, policymakers and students to help expand the pool of women who have the credentials and experience for these roles. Our goal is to foster the next generation of women leaders so that businesses will no longer be constrained by a limited pool of women with the requisite leadership skills. We achieve this objective through:
researching the challenges to developing women leaders and offering practical solutions
infusing these findings into a series of innovative programmes and workshops aimed at both prospective female leaders and employers
creating forums and networks through which these ideas and solutions can be developed, improved and sustained over the longer term.
Our goal is to achieve impact across a wide range of corporate sectors, both profit and non-profit, and to take the initiative to a number of different countries.
How is WLI unique?
The Wo+men’s leadership initiative at Cambridge Judge Business School is unique in three ways:
Bottom-up platform: WLI is a bottom-up platform that encourages everyone--men and women, students, faculty and staff and external constituents—to use this platform to do something that they really believe in and that they think is important to foster gender balance, equal opportunities and women’s empowerment in business. Two MBA students Siobhan Sweeney and Rena Zuabi were central in founding this initiative and our students, faulty and staff have since been core partners in expanding this initiative. Corporations and not-for-profit organisations have also become important partners. This inclusive bottom-up platform is really the cornerstone of the WLI.
Multi-faceted approach: WLI is multi-faceted and spans cutting-edge research on gender issues in business, innovative gender-focused programmes and forums to debate and collectively develop approaches that tackle those barriers that are faced when building a gender-diverse workforce globally. Our faculty have conducted ground-breaking research on a range of important topics including women in boards and executive positions, women leaders in small and medium-sized enterprises and social issues facing women globally such as child marriage in Indonesia and gender equality paradox in professional sports. We have launched innovative new programmes aimed at improving the pipeline of female leaders such as the Cambridge Rising Women Leaders’ Programme. Finally, we have created several forums for open dialogue across policy makers, corporations and academics, including our flagship annual Women leadership conference.
Making the numbers count: right from the start we were very clear that we are not just about counting numbers, but making a meaningful difference in gender equality and women’s empowerment globally. We have collaborated both internally with students, faculty and staff as well as externally with our corporate, policy and not-for-profit partners to promote mentoring and workshops to strengthen the pipeline of high-potential women for leadership positions. This developmental and nurturing focus has been a crucial part of the WLI at Cambridge Judge. We have taken efforts to improve our own culture by launching the Athena-Swan initiative for the first time in 2016.
How can you join us to make a change?
To enrich and grow the Women’s Leadership Initiative, it is important for us to work collaboratively to overcome the challenges still faced in building a gender-balanced workforce. So we invite everyone - whether you are a student, an alumnus/alumna, a faculty or staff member at Cambridge Judge Business School, the University of Cambridge or beyond - to be a part of this exciting initiative. Please share your thoughts or help us launch more activities to do more to achieve a gender-balanced workforce and society.