People & Perspectives

Putting our hands up for gender equity

On International Women's Day, meet the fearless females who lead four of the Women of WBA business resource group chapters around the world.

By Miriam Ben Jedida and Hannah Robinson

Women of WBA collage

We’re all familiar with Cyndi Lauper’s iconic ’80s hit “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” but what if women also want to have a fundamental seat at the table when it comes to forging a gender equal world?

With more than 1,000 members across the globe, it’s time to meet the chairs of the Women of WBA (WoWBA) business resource group (BRG) chapters. These voluntary, grassroots networks are committed to helping us foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization. With the global vision of creating a community where women can reach their desired potential, members are encouraged to build connections, share experiences, demonstrate leadership and sharpen their professional skills.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, discover how our award-winning Women of WBA BRG chapters in the U.S, Germany, UK and Asia are choosing to challenge gender inequity all year long.

Megan Brandt
Megan Brandt, Chair of Women of WBA – U.S.

Why is this chapter so important in the U.S.?

Over the past year, there has been an amazing focus on diversity, equity and inclusion within the U.S. business. The WoWBA BRG is proud to support our organization and bring these conversations to the forefront. Two examples of where our focus has been “in the moment” include our Mental Health and Women in the Electorate events. This year has challenged all of us to appreciate and embrace our different experiences, while knowing that we are stronger together.

Why should employees join the U.S. chapter?

During the pandemic it has been especially important to stay connected virtually. WoWBA offers a network to share experiences, continue to build skills and network across the organization. We have events for members and leadership opportunities for those who want to build their skillsets outside of their daily work responsibilities.

What are your plans for 2021?

We will continue to offer opportunities for WoWBA members to learn and grow. We want to connect with even more team members across the field, distribution centers and corporate offices, and we will continue to partner with other BRGs to embrace diverse experiences and perspectives.

Sandra Bruckner
Sandra Brückner, Chair of Women of WBA – Germany

What initiatives has the Germany chapter introduced?

To increase our number of female leaders, we decided to develop a female leadership program in 2019. We started with 12 colleagues and, due to its success and positive feedback, we were excited to launch a second cohort in 2020. We are really proud that so many colleagues who have completed our leadership program have already progressed into more senior positions.

Why is the BRG chapter so important in Germany?

More than 67 percent of employees at Alliance Healthcare Germany are women. One of our goals is to continue to encourage and support women to pursue positions at upper management levels, if that’s their professional ambition.

How were women in your country affected by the pandemic, and how did you support them?

The impact of the pandemic has been immense. Juggling working from home with home schooling and the closure of kindergartens has really been a double burden. Where possible, we are supporting colleagues with flexible working hours to help them balance their professional and personal lives.

Beth Dolecki
Beth Dolecki, Chair of Women of WBA – UK

What initiatives have you introduced?

The team has launched three learning journeys, which are seven-week programs that enable women to develop their personal brand, build their confidence and strengthen their negotiation skills. We also have 12 active LeanIn circles, where small groups of women can meet regularly to create a support network, share advice, build new skills and celebrate each other’s successes. Finally, we introduced networking groups, focusing on menopause and fertility.

How were women in your country affected by the pandemic, and how did you support them?

Our vice chair, Kat Robinson, worked with the University of Nottingham, England, to conduct some research on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on women. Many studies globally and in the UK suggest that women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, specifically highlighting a rise in domestic violence reports, period poverty and mental illness in young women. Some stats suggest that women have increased their working week by up to 46 percent. Our research will be used to help inform WBA colleagues of the positive and challenging experiences faced by women in WBA.

What are your plans for 2021?

In addition to introducing new learning journeys, we’re excited to launch our new Wellbeing Networking group, which will encourage our members to prioritize and optimize their well-being. The network will focus on four key areas, including emotional, mental, physical and spiritual well-being, and will provide a number of activities and initiatives to support colleagues. 

Learn more about what a typical day is like for Beth Dolecki.

Bianca Li
Bianca Li, Chair of Women of WBA – Asia

Why is this BRG chapter so important in Asia?

Because of its historical culture, the progress of gender equity in most Asian countries is slower, and gender stereotypes still occur in the workplace. As well as being underrepresented in senior management roles, women also receive pressure to be the primary caregiver at home. We want to change peoples’ mindsets and help drive a cultural transformation.

How were women in your country affected by the pandemic, and how did you support them?

Home schooling is a challenge, as women in business are expected to provide the majority of care to children, especially when they are working from home. Women told us they felt so disconnected from people, so we organized several virtual events with games and leadership talks to help them to reconnect.

What initiatives have you introduced?

We have been organizing different activities to support professional development and knowledge-building, such as Learning Journeys, equal opportunity workshops and leadership talks. We also used the WEPs Gender Gap Analysis Tool to help identify areas of improvement in our local policies.