Our newly founded consultancy company DOIT-smart has developed a business approach that is geared to operational feasibility and positions the topic of diversity as a corporate goal. We advise and support companies in the implementation of their gender diversity strategy and improve the entire personnel lifecycle of the company with concrete measures and suitable products.

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McKinsey’s latest Women matter study is entitled „Time to Accelerate“. It shows that gender diversity brings advantages for corporate success and that mixed teams achieve better economic results.

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2018 could be a decisive year for gender equality in Switzerland. The introduction of the women’s quota as well as measures against wage discrimination will be decided in the parliament. The Federal Council plans to introduce a quota for listed companies with more than 250 employees. The future goal is that women will be represented to 30% in boards of directors and to 20% in management boards.

There is need to catch up regarding the fact that Switzerland currently is lagging severely behind in this topic. The female representation in the 100 largest companies is 17% in boards of directors ans 8% in management boards.

Soft Quotas

However, there should not be any sanctions, if these quotas are not achieved. The better solution would be to demand that companies must explain in a compensation report why the benchmark has not been met and identify measures that will lead to improvement. The vote has not been taken yet, but the bill has been approved by the National Council.

Nevertheless, the obligation to report will only be fully in force after a transitional phase of 3 years and is only going to be valid for 10 years.

We advise companies to take action now

In order to increase the female representation and to make it possible for women to advance to the top management, it not only takes suitable programs and measures, but also persistence and patience. Our DOIT-smart team advises and accompanies you in the implementation of a gender diversity strategy that suits you and your needs. Furthermore, we help you to improve the entire personnel lifecycle with concrete suggestions and products. With our level 1 analysis you would already meet the requirements of the revision of the law. At the same time, you are going to receive a fact-based analysis of your current situation, which allows you to embed measures and goals into a larger frame of your company.

Our module „Female Leadership Pipeline“ could help you with that. The pipeline of female junior staff needs to be analyzed and weak points need to be understood. Based on a quantitative analysis our experts determine the causes of a thin pipeline and submit tailor-made proposals, whose success will be measured via the Gender Diversity Dashboard. The sustainability of this module can be intensified with an additional block, for example the „Unconscious Bias“ module.

In the context of gender diversity, the issue of stereotypes is receiving more and more attention. The magazine Psychoscope (a product of the federation of the Swiss psychologists) concentrated/focused its January issue on the topic „Women and Careers“.

It investigates the question, how careers of women succeed – despite stereotypes and unfavorable conditions.

Constantin Schön and Katja Rost, from the Institute of Sociology of the University of Zurich, dedicate one article to the topic „Stereotypes as Stumbling Blocks“.

What is a stereotype?

A stereotype is a simplified description of a person or a group. It is usually very pictorial and corresponds to widespread imaginary ideas.

Stereotypes help to understand the complexity of our social world by processing its impressions very quickly. However, stereotypes are also problematic, as they simplify reality too much, especially when complex behaviors are involved (such as the behavior of managers).

Stereotypically, managers should be self-confident, decisive and competitive. These characteristics are also considered to be typically male, which is why men are often regarded as the „natural leaders“. Women that have made their way up to leadership roles find themselves in difficult positions, as they do not correspond to the typical gender stereotype.

How do organizations deal with these stereotypes in the best way?

According to the authors of the article, employees should be provided with tools to raise their awareness of distorted expectations and stereotypes. They suggest for instance, a management training on „Unconscious Bias“. It is crucial that the fight against stereotypes becomes an important matter for the top management, as the issue must be strategically anchored in the corporate structure to initiate targeted measures and advance projects.

In our „Unconscious Bias Trainings“, HR managers and executives are sensitized to distortions such as prejudices, stereotypes and other misconceptions. The practical workshop supports the participants in identifying „critical events“ and situations and helps them to define adequate countermeasures.

Our next public workshop „Unconscious Bias in the Company: How to overcome the autopilot in our brain“ will take place on the 5th of September 2019.

You can find the registration and further information here.

What we can learn from the latest Schilling report: the importance of the pipeline

According to the latest Schilling report the development of gender diversity in management boards of the largest companies in Switzerland is sobering. After a promising increase last year, the female representation is currently declining again, falling from 8% to 7%. Only 8% of the vacant management positions were filled by women in 2017 (compared to 21% in 2016). In 59% of the 118 companies that were surveyed, there is currently no women at all to be found in the managing board.

In order for this to change, more attention needs to be paid to the internal pipeline.

Of course, external candidates can also be recruited for management positions. However, in order to achieve sustainable change, the next generation must be supported internally.

And there is still a lot of trouble, when we look at that.


As a recent McKinsey study shows, women’s chances of advancing in the hierarchy are significantly lower than those of men. Therefore, is is important to address the female management pipeline in a structural manner and be aware of Unconscious Bias, especially in companies that have a performance-oriented employee assessment.

More Information to the McKinsey study here.


The corporate environment is rapidly changing and diversity is becoming increasingly important for corporate success. An aging population means that companies need to make more efforts in recruiting. Various studies show that diverse companies are more successful.

We support companies in identifying their „pain points“ and approaching these with innovative methods. A data-supported process helps us with this.

Our modules provide tailor-made offers for the most important points on the way to a successful, diverse organization. The modules can optimally be combined with each other or supplemented with further measures.

Our team is looking forward to your inquiry and will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

„A father and his son drive together in a car and have a horrible car accident. The father is dead at once, while the son is taken to the hospital. There he is immediately brought to the operating theatre. The doctor takes a quick look at him and says: „I can’t operate on him, he’s my son“

(Stöger, Ziegler & David, 2004, P. 515)

This question, who the doctor was, was posed by Stöger and the others to students that were studying success concepts of academic persons. Only one third of the students came up with the correct solution, namely that the doctor is the mother of the injured child.

This experiment clarifies two points:

1. Gender stereotypes or unconscious bias influence our perception- in this case the attribution of leadership potential.

2. The Leadership habits is still strongly associated with masculine attributes.

Angelica Marte and Jasmin Wenzel dedicate their article „Leaders are made, not born – What we really think about leading women“ to the connection between gender stereotypes and the assessment of women’s potential for leadership. This is done from two different scientific perspectives- from a psychological and a social one.

Here you can read the whole article: Leaders are made, not born – What we really think about leading women

What do your employees think about gender diversity? The DOIT-smart Gender Gap Profile© 

As a management consultancy for gender diversity, we are primarily concerned with shaping the corporate culture, strategy, structures and processes of companies in such a way that diversity is lived and the company is attractive for current and future employees.

One of our analysis tools is the DOIT-smart Gender Gap Profile©.

The aim of the analysis is to feel the pulse of the organisation, to give room for subjective views and to discover new things in the process. During one-hour interviews, members of various segments of the workforce are asked to describe their subjective perception of the various dimensions of diversity (see chart below) in relation to around 25 theses with assessments and comments. This method makes it possible to present the different points of view of the different hierarchical levels concisely and it also makes it possible to capture anecdotes that are valuable in terms of understanding the corporate culture.

For example, it may become apparent that the topic of gender diversity is clearly anchored at management level, but is hardly perceived or interpreted differently by the organization. Another example would be that there are gaps in networking opportunities, although young women in particular are particularly dependent on them.

Blind spots can also appear, such as unconscious bias for certain role profiles. For example, one of the women interviewed experienced the embarrassing moment of a client being presented with a men’s wristwatch as a prize for the best sales result because the organizer was not prepared for a woman to be considered. Another top cadre woman complained that she herself was asked to go to the toilet at conferences where she acted as the main speaker.

Gender gap profile analysis also allows us to detect differences in perception within certain dimensions. For example, it may turn out that there is a clear glass ceiling in relation to flexible working or home office opportunities within an organization are inconsistent.

Together with the quantitative analysis, the DOIT-smart Gender Gap Profile© creates a solid factual basis for developing specific packages of measures adapted to the organization. By embedding the measures in a fact-based framework, their sustainability and impact are measured and improved.

Do you also want to know where your organization stands? DOIT-smart is offering the Quick Check Diversity module with a 25% discount until the end of the year. Please contact us for a non-binding consultation:

info@doit-smart.org
+41 44 500 27 70

Recently, the large chamber decided with a very small majority in favor of the women’s quota. With 95 to 94 votes, the members of the National Council voted in favor of the regulation on the advancement of women as a part of the revision of the company law. In the future, the female representation shall be 30% on boards of directors and 20% on management boards (see also: Is the quota for women up-coming?). By introducing this, a first hurdle has been cleared, but not all obstacles have been removed. The Upper Chamber still has to accept the women’s quota.

The quota works

This is impressively demonstrated by the example of Germany. In order to promote equality between men and women, a women’s quota of 30% has been applied to supervisory boards of 105 listed companies in January 2016. While only 27 women sat on the DAX supervisory boards before that, there are now 81 of a total of 256 supervisory positions that are occupied by women – within only 3 years (!) the quota was brought over the 30% mark. It is currently 32%.

However, Germany has stricter rules than the planned regulation in Switzerland. In Germany a company, which is linked to the quota and has less than 30% women in its control committee, must allocate vacant positions to women until the 30% mark is reached. Otherwise, the place would remain unoccupied („empty chair“).

In Switzerland, a soft quota, according to the principle „comply or explain“, is being discussed. Those companies, who do not achieve the target values, only have to explain the reasons, why they didn’t reach the goal, and seek for measures for improvement in a compensation report.

With the Equal Opportunities Act for Women and Men coming into force at the beginning of the year, Austria is also following the suit. For companies with 1’000 or more employees, 30% of the positions must be occupied by women.

These examples show that the female representation in companies is increasingly gaining in importance and visibility and is also clarifies that there are enough women available for the positions.

The recently published „Advance & HSG Gender Intelligence Report“ presents the latest fact and figures on gender distribution in Swiss companies. The results are based on raw data of 238’700 employees from over 50 companies.

According to the study, improvements in external recruitment were achieved with positive pipeline effects. Another pleasing highlight is the high return rate (87%) of women from maternity leave. This clearly shows that the efforts of companies are already bearing small fruits- the Swiss average was only 65%, according to the FSO.

The main challenge for companies is the internal promotion of women that have potential. The imbalance begins as early as the 1st management level, with a major impact on the overall career path. Although the gender ratio is almost 50:50 for employees without a management function, 58% men vs. 42% women are promoted to management. The main reasons cited for this explanation are unconscious distortions in promotion processes, as well as a disregard for part-time work in management positions (Further results of the study can be found here)

DOIT-smart deals with this topic in detail and has active consulting mandates (Female Leadership Pipeline) with industrial and service companies.

The starting point is an analysis of the figures of the company to make biases and characteristics visible. During implementation, more than 100 measures and products are available to choose from, depending on the company’s current state of development.

Especially companies that are between phase 3 and 4 of the DOIT-smart phase model often need a process redesign for the promotion process. A process, which can be improved through transparent criteria, the involvement of several decision-makers and active career support for women.

At 7-8 %, the female representation in management positions at Swiss companies is at a very low level (Source: Schilling Report). The development of the past years shows hardly any progress.

But why do many companies still underestimate the economic benefits of a more balanced gender distribution?

Usually, there is no direct intention of keeping the female representation in management so low.

However, many companies have little appetite for remedying this situation. Stereotypes and biases are often unconsciously very pronounced- these patterns can hardly be overcome with conventional methods.

In order to gain a more differentiated picture of the individual industries, DOIT-smart has examined the female representation on management boards and boards of directors  of the largest Swiss companies by industry. The analysis is based on publicly available data that has either been available on the company’s website or monetas.ch (from April to October 2018). An overview of the companies (incl ranking) is continuously published on the DOIT-smart homepage.

Aval Tech (Industry), Unilever Switzerland (Consumer Goods & Retail), Biogen Switzerland (Life Sciences), AXA Versicherungen (Insurance) and Switzerland Tourism (Federal Corporations) have currently the highest female representation in management positions in their industry. Unilever and Biogen short the top position in the industry with 50% women in the management (see Stars).

In around 55% of the surveyed companies, there is no woman at all to be found in the management. On the other hand, this looks better in the boards of directors, as around 73% of the surveyed companies have at least one women on the board. In around 20% of the 130 companies, gender parity does not seem to play a role at all – women are neither to be found in the management nor the board of directors.

DOIT-smart supports and advises companies in the implementation of a successful diversity strategy from a neutral perspective. The focus lays on a business-oriented gender diversity management. In addition, DOIT-smart analyses the current situation from 2 perspectives – from the perspective of the employees and from the perspective of the management – to determine the current situation. Existing strategies and processes are questioned and analyzed with the aim of creating a company- specific gender profile and identifying the need for action on the basis of the findings.

In a second phase, solutions are developed in cooperation with the company. DOIT-smart supports the company throughout the entire process. A Gender Diversity Dashboard (GDD©) based on performance Indicators continuously monitors the progress of the implementation.