The topic of diversity has an important place in PostFinance’s corporate responsibility (CR) strategy. The financial institution attaches great importance to equality and diversity, and it intends to strengthen its commitment to those values in future with various new measures. A core part of this commitment is to promote the proportion of women in management roles. “Not least, a survey of 12 financial institutions in Switzerland by the University of St. Gallen highlighted the need for action”, says Miriam Wälti, Co-Lead Corporate Responsibility at PostFinance.
Women’s Talk: a stage for women on their career path
With Women’s Talk, the PostFinance Corporate Responsibility team is launching a series to support women on their career path. Three participants tell us what they took away from the first two events.
Pursuing a well-networked career
Women’s Talk is an initial concrete measure arising from current work on the CR strategy. “The event provides a platform for female executives at PostFinance to exchange views on relevant topics related to their careers. It allows them to learn from each other and add valuable contacts to their network,” explains Miriam Wälti. It is a new format that assists participants with networking, plays a valuable educational role as participants learn from each other, and helps to raise awareness of the issue. “With the Women’s Talk series of events, we have created a platform for providing greater support to women on their career path,” explains Chief Transformation Officer Gabriela Länger. The series was launched successfully in spring 2021. Three participants describe their experiences of the first two events:
Rahel Tanner, Head of Procurement at PostFinance
“I’m interested in how women shape their careers, the obstacles they encounter, and what brings them forward. That’s why I took part in the first two Women’s Talks, and also why I led a group breakout session at the second event. The strong participation in the Women’s Talks shows the need of many women to exchange ideas, to find out how others are doing, and to see that they are not alone when it comes to certain issues. Platforms like Women’s Talk are important. While PostFinance is close to parity between men and women on its Board of Directors and the Executive Board, this is still not the case for middle and upper management.
Lilian Buss, Senior Manager Marketing Development at PostFinance
“I think it’s important that we (women) make ourselves heard and take action. At the same time, we also need visibility for the issue of diversity and specifically for the issue of promoting women. We should be aware that it is a topic that affects us all directly. And if we want to change anything, it will take all of us – men and women. I’m convinced that Women’s Talk is an important piece of the puzzle – but it should not remain the only one.
It gives us a network that we can use in a targeted manner, as well as new ideas, experiences and inspiration from other participants that will help move things forward.
In addition to the external keynote speeches, I particularly enjoyed the smaller group sessions. The direct interactions with other participants, management representatives and the Board of Directors were extremely valuable and, above all, informal due to the sharing of personal insights and experiences. We communicated as equals – with no taboo topics, but with constructive and critical discussions. I think it’s great that everyone all the way up to the top of the company is involved and feels a responsibility for addressing the issue. One quote in particular from Simona Scarpaleggia stuck in my head: ‘Equality is about 50:50 not 70:30. Either you aim at equality or you don’t’.”
Isabella Stalder, Head of Internal Auditing at PostFinance
“Women’s Talk is a great opportunity for me to exchange ideas with women who face similar challenges. I was also motivated to take part because the talk would be attended by representatives from the Board of Directors and the PostFinance Executive Board, as well as interesting external guests, all of whom have a lot of practical experience. My takeaway from the first two talks is positive. Firstly, I appreciated the varied structure of the event and the professional presentation, and secondly, I liked the fact that the questions were discussed in a practical manner and that experienced managers spoke very openly about their careers and challenges. This brought us valuable advice for our own everyday lives. Women’s Talk is a platform where we can communicate ideas and expand our professional networks. It also shows that PostFinance is a progressive employer.”
The Women’s Talk events begin at 7.30 a.m. each morning as an energizing start to the day and last around one and a half hours. Otherwise, the event format is intended to remain open in future. The first two online events dealt with the topics of “Rush Hour” and “Positioning and Visibility”, and were actively attended by various representatives of the PostFinance Executive Board and Board of Directors. They guided the participants in small groups through the breakout sessions, which involved intensive and open discussions, before providing a brief summary of the findings. The agenda also included professionally presented input talks – with TV presenter Andrea Jansen and Simona Scarpaleggia, former CEO of Ikea Switzerland, currently global CEO of the consulting firm EDGE Strategy and author of the book: “The Other Half: Creating gender-balanced teams for sustainable success”. Women’s Talk is marked by the participation of strong role models. It is intended to enable women to meet across hierarchical boundaries with an open, personal, inspirational and approachable ethos that engenders a feeling of unity. It should also provide a platform for its participants.