Credit Suisse’s Women Connect team drive the diversity agenda through a highly successful, cross-divisional female network that focuses on professional development and career management. They co-ordinate a group of female Managing Directors who host interactive monthly forums with female VPs & Directors to encourage an open dialogue and sharing of ideas in a confidential, collaborative and inclusive environment. They also deliver inspiring speaker events and learning resources to develop a range of business, technical and interpersonal skills to enable participants to progress their careers. Feedback from participants has been so overwhelmingly positive that they are now extending the programme globally and across a wider population to maximise its impact and build upon success to date.
The Women Connect team have now been nominated and shortlisted for the WIBF Team Diversity Award. We spoke to co- founders Lisa London and Tanya Bhairo to find out more about them and the Women Connect initiative.
What is your role within the team?
We Co-Chair Women Connect. Together we created the concept, built the governance and drove the agenda. We identified an opportunity to leverage the female MDRs in the division to coach the female VPs/DIR. The impact has been overwhelming, individuals in the team have commented on how engaged they feel, how their network has significantly grown and given them confidence to push their career discussions. We both have demanding day jobs leading key functions within Group Operations, however we have exceptional passion and commitment to drive the diversity agenda and develop a pipeline of female talent through Women Connect in parallel with their functional responsibilities.
Our current agenda includes ‘Round Table’ discussions with senior leaders on topics such as Diversity & Inclusion strategy, MDR promotion process, Representing CS to the Client, CS Technology strategy. Following the success of ‘Managing Your Career’ & ‘Strategic Networking Skills’ learning & development workshops, we are rolling out ‘Personal Communication Styles’ workshops this quarter. Our intention is to provide women with the toolkit they need to manage their own careers and not wait for someone else to do it for them. They could be waiting a long time!
How can we get the biggest shift towards diverse and inclusive workplaces?
We need to include both men and women in management at all levels to support and drive the agenda for it to be successful….. Senior leadership championing diversity and inclusion, high profile and objective allies with greater alignment to the business case for diversity (especially in financial services where we can prove a business benefit) and embracing inclusivity and intersectionality rather than focusing on one aspect of diversity at a time.
How does it feel to be on the WIBF Awards for Achievement Shortlist?
It is a real honour for us to be shortlisted against all the other leaders who are spending time driving the D&I agenda across our industry. This acknowledgement has motivated us (even more now) to continue to drive Women Connect which is benefitting so many individuals within our division. Raising the profile of Women Connect will attract more attention from senior leaders who we need to get behind us and provide support to further grow Women Connect.
What would you tell the 18 year old you knowing what you know now with regards to your career?
Lisa: I would tell my 18 year old self to be more confident and have the difficult career discussions. You can’t expect that if you work hard and do well that someone will have your back and help you progress your career. Speak up and make sure the right people know what you want but at the same time listen to their feedback and act upon it.
Tanya: I would also tell myself to be confident and pro-active in having career discussions, better to know sooner how to achieve goals rather than wait
How do you like to unwind?
Lisa: A long run and a shopping trip – I usually think about what I would like to buy as I am running and plan out my shopping!
Tanya: I practise a lot of yoga and also teach it in my spare time. I go on huge walks, and spend a lot of time with friends and family.