We’re selecting women, not rejecting men
Quotas are necessary, and the time is right for them, says CEO Karen Frøsig. Sydbank wants 35 per cent of its managers to be women by 2025.
We want an equal number of men and women to sign up and show interest in leadership”.
Karen Frøsig, CEO of Sydbank, has recently stood out in the media as an advocate of quotas.
Internally in the bank, her commitment to women in leadership has meant that, for example, percentages have been set for the proportion of women enrolling in its talent programme 'Talent for leadership'.
Since last year, it has been a requirement that half of the participants are women.
"For many years, we have tried in different ways to get more women into management; we have encouraged and coached and so on, but we have not been able to achieve the desired result. Setting a quota, on the other hand, quickly had an impact and made more women register as interested in leadership", Karen Frøsig states.
With more women trained through the talent programme, there will obviously be more women to choose from when filling managerial positions, for which it is also a requirement that there must be women among those selected for an interview.
The goal is that, by 2025, there must be at least 35 per cent female managers in the bank, compared to the current 30 per cent.
"It is an ambitious goal; we would set it higher if it wasn’t. In five to ten years’ time, that's when the fun truly begins; then we will have more women to work with, because truth is that it takes some time to reach the various management levels".
Her dedication to ensuring women in leadership started to gather momentum as COVID-19 came to an end:
"The pandemic left room for reflection for many of us, and the time is therefore right for a change. My own reflection came to be a lot about women in leadership and how to bring all the talents into play in a better way. It is imperative that we act so that we may achieve that", she says and adds:
"In comparison, I would never go into a shoe shop and settle for seeing half of the shop – we have to get the whole talent pool in play. It is not a question of rejecting anyone, it’s about choosing women as well”.
Best, but not good enough
The reflection on women in leadership also arose after Sydbank was assessed to be the best at offering both men and women ample leadership opportunities in a report issued last year by Finansforbundet and the Danish Employers' Association for the Financial Sector.
"I was invited to talk about our abilities in the field where we were by far the best in the sector. But as they say: In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. And what we did was not good enough. Efforts are now made to correct that", says Karen Frøsig.
If women want leadership, they have to be aware that it does not rhyme with taking full responsibility for being at home with the children, she points out.
Although Sydbank has not introduced days of remote working in the wake of COVID-19, the increased flexibility may impede women's opportunities for leadership.
"At our workplace, we do not have days of remote working; we have flexibility every day of the week. But as a woman with leadership ambitions, you should know that it is important to show up at the office. Leadership requires being visible”.