In 2019, when in became the CEO of Yoast, I initiated the empowerwoment project at Yoast. The program was focused on getting more women into leadership teams at Yoast. I was the CEO, but I was the only woman on our board. The empowerwoment project was initiated to make a change. Currently, I am working on a new empowerwoment project, which will be launched in the beginning of 2023. In this post, I’ll tell you all about my next adventure.
Women stepping up
Women are still very much underrepresented in leadership positions. Just look at the Fortune 500, which shows only 5% of the largest companies are led by women. There are all kinds of reasons why women are underrepresented in those leadership positions. In the empowerwoment project we analyze the reasons, and try to change the status quo. The idea is to help women step up and to help organizations to open up. Because let’s face it: the underrepresentation is by no means the ‘fault’ of women, so it should be a joint responsibility (women AND organizations) to fix it.
I am currently working on an online program with a lot of videos, tons of reading materials and practical assignments to work on. It’s going to be an online program with an offline (real-life) element as well. The general idea is that women of a certain company follow the online course and come together once a month to share their experiences.
The entire program will take a full year to complete. It will be rather intensive, with weekly videos, reading, writing or sessions with the other participants.
Focus on changing the organization
In the first part of the empowerwoment project, we’ll focus on what a woman herself can do in order to step up into a leadership role. How do you grow? How do you act? What could you do or not do to exhilarate your growth?
The second part of the empowerwoment project is focussed on the organization the women work for. What could the organization do? What is the organization (perhaps without noticing it) doing in order to prevent women to grow into leadership roles? How could the organization improve?
In that phase, women will do a short assessment of the current state of gender equality in the organization and come up with a plan to improve that. The empowerwoment project is a collaboration of women that want to grow and organizations that want to see women flourish. If they collaborate, that growth could really happen!
Empowerwoment at Yoast
We’ve seen what the effect of collaboration of women and organizations could do when we did the empowerwoment project at Yoast. It had an effect on the women within the project, but the effect on the organization itself was much bigger. The organization became much more aware of gender stereotyping, unconscious bias, and biases within our own HR policies. Solving those things and staying on top of these things, led to Yoast hiring more women in all departments of the organization. And nowadays, our leadership team consists of an equal amount of women and men!
Next steps & launch empowerwoment project
I am currently working really hard to get the empowerwoment project to launched. I am shooting videos and writing a lot of texts. Next step will be a kick-ass marketing campaign. It is something I truly enjoy doing and I am really passionate about. And, it puts me right back into the start-up fase. And being a startup entrepeneur is the best thing in the whole world!