Inspiring a new generation of women in business

Leaders of Impact Programme: American Chamber’s executive leader peer learning and mentoringprogramme is designed to promote advance leadership skills in a safe, trusted environment, workingin small cross-company, cross-sector, cross-functional groups.

The American Chamber Leaders of Impact Programme, established by the Chamber’s Women in Global Organisations Network, has since last year been helping women to transform their capabilities in the area of leadership development.

“When we were establishing the programme, we didn’t anticipate the level of interest something like this would generate from our member companies or indeed the general demand for information in the whole arena of leadership transformation,” says Miriam O’Keeffe, member programmes director at the American Chamber.

“It’s a testament to a whole shift we’re seeing to professional development among our member companies in the multinational sectors — and in the broader workforce as a whole.

“The programme, which has completed its first cycle offers peer mentoring and a chance for women to tease out the challenges being faced by increasing numbers in globalised companies who hold responsibilities spanning Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Asia.

"This is an opportunity to share in a safe space among a group, the challenges that are inherent in working in global environments with complex reporting structures — where navigating company politics and processes can play a big part in your success.”

One of challenges being addressed is the need to be able to feel comfortable working across a range of different areas — from email communication to in-person meetings, to conference calls, and increasingly to new technologies like telepresence.

Adaption is key and the learnings made during the sessions are an invaluable way to get out in front of what many companies are looking for anyway including exceptional communications, organisation and interpersonal skills, often all at once.

For Michelle Ryan, business development manager at Global Shares, inspiration and thinking “outside the box” can come from many places.

She says:

Quite often it’s a meeting of minds that brings encouragement and creates engagement, developing successful leaders.

"The table talk discussions with down-to-earth peers in a ‘safe’ business mentoring environment were extremely valuable.

“It is a cross-sectoral mentor programme that will actually help participants to develop skills that will add value to their role and their company” says O’Keeffe.

“Taking a chance means generating a general peer-level lift that goes with being seen to be engaging externally.”

The sessions are broad and look at areas including influence, control and strategies to increase a person’s power of persuasion – which is more important than ever as a managerial tool.

“I think as women, we are equipped to assess and think practically. What this programme sets out to do is equip you to turn that deep breath into a ‘let’s go for it’.”

Positive mental health key to inclusion

Initiatives that support positive mental health in the workplace are increasingly part of the diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda of US companies based in Ireland. This is according to a survey of business leaders conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland in December.

The survey found that companies have embedded diversity and inclusion into their objectives, policies, and procedures, particularly in relation to hiring practices, with 71% of members reporting that their organisation has D&I policies and practices in place for hiring.

Race, gender, and sexual orientation were among D&I indicators performing strongly, with nine in ten respondents ‘comfortable’ or ‘very comfortable’ with diversity in these areas.

However, the AmCham survey found that just over one in two leaders (53%) believed they are personally equipped to be a champion for diversity and inclusion.

The results also found lower levels of comfort around the ability to deal with differently-abled issues in the workplace.

Chamber Board member Gareth Lambe, of Facebook Ireland, who is leading the inclusion agenda, said the findings showed that more training programmes were required to equip leaders to ensure that the diversity and inclusion agenda continues to be prioritised at all levels.

Just under half the companies surveyed have specific programmes, such as induction training and employee resource groups, to support D&I.

The results followed an earlier public poll, conducted by iReach on behalf of the American Chamber, earlier in 2018 , which found that 55% of the Irish public see US companies as more inclusive environments than other Irish workplaces.

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