Business & Society

The Gender Initiative – addressing the root causes of gender imbalance in the workplace

female students

In the global workplace, advancing gender balance in inclusion and compensation across all levels is an urgent priority. Creating a pipeline of future business leaders who are passionate and equipped to drive gender balance within their organisations is critical. INSEAD is doing just that with the Gender Initiative

Dedicated to creating activities and opportunities that promote gender inclusion, engage the full potential of women leaders in business and integrate both men and women in the effort, the initiative’s core activities are grounded in rigorous research on gender imbalance and innovative interventions that enable balance. Its ambitious strategic vision seeks to develop gender balance in global businesses and societies through four foci: INSEAD as an institutional model, our pedagogical programmes, alumni reach and business partnerships. 

“At INSEAD, we see business as a force to improve peoples’ lives,” says Zoe Kinias, INSEAD Gender Initiative Director and Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour. “We aim to be a model for great gender balance, leveraging our strong research base, our innovative teaching approaches and our deeply diverse community to provide businesses everywhere with what they need to address gender balance across all cultures.”

The Gender Initiative is focused on addressing the root causes of gender imbalance in addition to treating its symptoms. Research indicates that these causes form an interrelated web of challenges including psychological processes and organisational practices that reinforce women’s exclusion from business leadership, notes Kinias. “To move forward, we must influence both women’s and men’s psychological processes and improve the systems that reinforces exclusion.”

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Zoe Kinias, Academic Director of the INSEAD Gender Initiative and Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour

In this spirit, a new Executive Education online offering, the INSEAD Gender Diversity Programme, provides male and female business leaders a personalised experience of applying rigorous research findings to develop gender equality in their organisations.

INSEAD and the Gender Initiative are also highlighting role models for women via Salamander and Knowledge articles, 50 Big Ideas, a webinar and the Limitless campaign, which profiles highly accomplished alumnae who have overcome social, economic or political constraints to achieve success. This role modeling approach is supported by INSEAD research on how relatable role models attract more women into tech and help women succeed in competitive global business. 

The iW50 celebration, which marked the 50th anniversary of the first women to enrol in INSEAD’s MBA programme, held a variety of events and forums this year to celebrate our women leaders, while bringing awareness to the work that still needs to be done. Alumni play an important role in these efforts, says Kinias. “We have more than 57,000 alumni, and they’re powerful all around the world,” she says. “If we can improve gender balance in the context of business directly and through our alumni, the spill over to society will be phenomenal.”