Global initiatives: Sweden - mentoring

Encouraging women to aspire to leadership

Some 20 women in the Swedish firm are receiving external advice and support to help them advance their careers. They have been chosen to take part in the Swedish firm’s Mentoring programme, which is aimed at encouraging women at manager level and above to aim for higher positions and the partnership.

Lisa Karthäuser, who runs the programme, explains: "Diversity and fresh ideas are vital to our business—without it, we lose our competitiveness and innovation. An important part of this revolves around recruiting and retaining competent women, including at the highest levels of management, which is what our Mentoring programme is aiming to help achieve."

Coordinated by external company Transferens AB, the programme focuses on the professional and personal development of the participants, who meet with their external mentors every four to six weeks. Participants also meet as a group several times during the year that the programme runs, allowing them to exchange experiences and learn from each other.

One participant in the 2006/2007 pilot programme was Lena Svensson, whose mentor was from a government department. "We met once a month, on average, and would speak for an hour or two, on different subjects, such as leadership and chairing meetings. She supported, advised and helped me understand potential pitfalls. It also raised my profile a lot internally because of the profile the pilot had within the firm," says Lena, who has since become a partner.

Lisa Karthäuser adds that, for the programme to be successful, it must be part of a larger, goal based development process involving the entire company and all of its employees. "We are also therefore running a number of educational seminars on the topic for our management groups and internal coaches."