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Creating a more gender-diverse workforce by empowering women leaders.

Hult EF Corporate Education use Rethinkly to bring innovation and depth to a client’s award-winning 'Women in Leadership' programme. 

The statistics speak for themselves, a diverse and inclusive workforce, regardless of size and industry, generates tangible benefits. Organisations prioritising this as a talent and corporate objective experience powerful outcomes such as increased efficiency, productivity, innovation, creativity and employee engagement.

  • Research suggests diverse teams are 70% more likely to capture new markets. In addition, they are 87% better at making decisions.

  • One study shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams are 15% more likely to generate above-average profitability.

  • Deloitte research reveals that 69% of millennials and Gen Z workers are more likely to stay five or more years with a company that has a diverse workforce. A Glassdoor report shows that 76% of job seekers believe a diverse workforce is a non-negotiable factor when considering job offers.

The Challenge


Understanding the power of gender diversity, a leading global pharmaceutical organisation has an ambitious global commitment to reach an equal gender split by 2025. Given its far-reaching impact as a growth enabler and on the economy, society, and even patients, they decided to focus on their people as their single most significant priority to build a strong and gender-diverse organisation.

With the core premise that an organisation is only as strong as the whole team, management acknowledged that they needed to work with the principle that only by bringing out the best in every individual in the company, leveraging on their strengths and power, could they make a significant boost in the performance of the company as a whole.

After running the programme for a number of years, an evolution and revamp were due. Driven by the Covid pandemic, there was an urgent requirement to successfully move to a digital-first approach.

"I was sceptical about how good it would be as a virtual programme, but I have to say it worked very well and would like to congratulate the team and adapting it in this way."

The Strategy

The overarching strategy started with the core declaration that they needed to realise the full power of their female colleagues. To unleash the potential of women in the company at an individual level, work on maximising their potential in collaboration with their colleagues, and ultimately improve overall performance.

Giving gender diversity equal prominence as any other business priority, this organisation is focused on nurturing an inclusive culture and diverse workplace supported by an award-winning 'Women in Leadership' programme.

This programme also included an initiative focused on an all-male managers workshop to promote awareness of the importance of self-care, wellbeing, and work-life balance for themselves and their teams. Designed as an empathetic communication workshop, the session also focused on minimising the natural unconscious bias limiting men from showing enough support for their female colleagues.

When it was time to revamp the programme they went to tender for pioneering approaches including using systemic principles. Systemic practice seeks to make sense of the world through relationships, focusing on the whole with the approach that change can be achieved by  exploring relationship patterns and understanding the impact.

"My own personal development is much in the interaction with others, influencing and perception. Those parts of the program have been very valuable to me."

Key to a successful outcome was the desire for:

  • A combination of coaching and digital activities to help with both scale and reach and especially to support new flexible working practices.

  • A global program across all the countries in which they operate.

  • An innovative approach to develop a 'leading-edge female leadership programme.'

  • Progressive delivery, such as unique 3D visualisations and using avatars.

  • An immersive learning experience. 

  • Personal development in a safe and digitally secure environment.

The Goals

The overarching goals and mission for the programme included:

  • Ensure our female leaders are continually developing and are a key part of a robust pipeline of diverse, purpose-led leaders.

  • Encourage women to speak their minds, help them leverage their strengths, and ensure they feel empowered to break through real and perceived barriers with confidence and competence.

  • Core participant deliverables include increased self-awareness, leadership capability development and a long-term career plan.

  • The business is looking for an environment where individuals can bring their whole selves, a lifelong learning culture, and an opportunity for participants to make a difference.

The Solution

Hult EF approached Rethinkly to participate in the tender specifically to:

  • Provide an immersive digital solution to the Hult EF proposal.

  • Help facilitate and resolve the deeper development issues that women were encountering in their leadership roles and career.

  • To focus on exploring the underlying systemic patterns in their own behaviour and in their teams/organisations, which Rethinkly accelerates the resolution of.


"Par​​t of what I enjoyed about [the programme] was that it forced me to slow down for a certain period of time each week and just think. The Mindful Leader reinforced that I need that time to be at my most effective, and showed me how to incorporate "slowing down and thinking" into everyday activities."

The result has been an award-winning annual six-month programme, Women as Leaders, which supports female leaders to reach their full potential in leadership roles. The programmes include one-to-one coaching and self-reflection sessions on Rethinkly Workshop to equip women with the tools they need — participation has been across 41 different countries with, on average, 200 delegates per cohort.

Rethinkly Workshop has delivered six sessions, with more planned for 2023 and beyond. Each session has had approximately 70 participants from around the world. Initially, the live sessions were run by Rethinkly team members, but to expand the programme, Rethinkly has trained Hult team members to also deliver these. 

Participants who join each get their own Rethinkly "world" to explore their challenges individually and all data is deleted at the end of the session. The secure approach makes it a “safe space” for a powerful immersive learning experience. Each module went through rigorous development and testing drawing on research and leading-edge coaching practices before being released into the programme.

The modules and feedback for the sessions: 

  • Where is my power and how do I give it away?
    ​"Very insightful - more than I expected at the start and feeling more empowered"

  • Emotional Intelligence - Others
    "Helped me better understand why some colleagues act they way they do."
    "Helpful explanations of why people behave as they do, and how to elevate empathy"


  • Emotional Intelligence - You
    "I think is important to learn about my feeling, how they impact me and how they impact others"

  • Making an Impact
    "I learned my own personal development is much in the interaction with others, influencing and perception. Those parts of the program have been very valuable to me."

  • Resilience
    "Resilience is a key skill and its something I am working on as I develop my leadership skills"

  • The Mindful Leader
    "I loved the emphasis on wellness and how improvements in wellness can have ripple effects on so many other things. Women don't hear this message enough - to take care of ourselves."

To ensure that each member engaging was able to maximise the experience a simple and effective onboarding path was implemented to help participants get up to speed with Rethinkly and how the "worlds" operate. A short tutorial on the various functions – how to move views, add and edit avatars etc. - is run at the start of each session. Once this five-minute process is done, the facilitator guides everyone through a process of exploration of a subject. 

"The mindful leader module made it so evidently clear how our physical, emotional and social health impacts us as leaders... This module clinched it for me as to why I haven't been successful in working on the issues that I have been trying to resolve for years."

The Results

  • Rethinkly element has an overall 4.3/5 or 86% satisfaction rating

    • 43% rated it 5/5

    • 46% rated it 4/5

  • 32% of participants were promoted post-program compared to 14.8% for the rest of the executive promotions during the same time period.

  • Participants have a higher rate of promotion than those not attending (approx. 30-50% more over three years)

  • 85% of participants say it helped improve their job performance.

  • 85% of participants agreed that the programme improved their professional development.

  • Net Promoter Score for the programme in 2020 is 64%.

  • For the WAL's attendees, we see consistently higher results for 'Development' and 'Engagement' items than the comparison group of female managers with a similar location and grade.

  • Recommendation of the company as a great place to work is 4 percentage points higher for those who attended.

Download the research and bring more depth to use of Rethinkly in this programme.

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