Can you describe Brave Women Leaders?
BWL is a biennial leadership workshop for rising women leaders within L.E.K. It’s called Brave Women Leaders because we want women to be courageous, to own their leadership style and to lead where women typically have not led before. We always say, “You have to see it to be it,” which means even if you did not have those role models for yourself, you can be that role model for someone else. In most industries in Australia, women don’t even make up 25% of the leadership structure. We are going to change that.
What types of education, programming and events can people expect from BWL?
Brave Women Leaders is a five-day, workshop-style program. We have lots of activities, engagement opportunities and intimate small-group work to get to know everyone really well. Having a room of all women doesn’t often happen in consulting, so it’s important to us to create that space. We encourage participants to share stories and be their authentic selves. We also bring in epic women from the community who are exemplifying brave leadership, to educate and inspire participants.
During these sessions, we want women to answer key questions relating to their leadership. For example, “What are my values?” and “How do I define success?” At the end of the five days, each participant should know who she is as a brave leader, and what steps she can take to get there.
Community is very important during these sessions. It is important to emphasize community and representation. In that vein, most recently we opened one discussion to all employees and alumni where we explored allyship. At this panel session, two of the speakers were clients who spoke with us about how to scale women leadership and how to be an ally in the workplace.
Why do you think it is important to have a women’s leadership program at L.E.K.?
We were originally a bit hesitant to run the workshop because sometimes it can create the perception that women are broken and need to be fixed. Women, of course, are not broken. We face barriers that our male colleagues simply do not. We face different hurdles than men do, and often for women the starting line is behind men. To us, creating this group is about leveling the playing field. We are equipping women with the tools and self-belief to brace themselves and be courageous enough to keep pushing barriers and continuing progress.
Once we uplift and empower everyone, we can begin conversations about other skills and competencies we need to teach our employees. We are on an equity, diversity and inclusion journey at L.E.K., and this is just one part of that. This is a model that can help us address more than just gender equity.
What were the highlights of the agenda for the most recent BWL workshop?
Over the course of the five days, participants in the BWL program experienced a variety of individual, small-group and speaker events. These events were broken into two “camps”: The first two days focused on education and reflection, while the final three days centered around inspiration and empowerment. At the end of the five days, participants had a better understanding of their leadership style, their personal strengths and gifts, and how to define success for themselves.
How can others get involved?
We can all get involved by supporting people of all genders in the workplace and empowering each other to be our most courageous selves. L.E.K. is all about having the best talent and supporting our clients the best we can. The only way to ensure we are supporting and providing the best talent in the industry is to give everyone an opportunity to succeed.