At the start of 2021, we launched the [email protected] mentoring program, which partners female employees with women in leadership positions helping them develop as individuals, evolve their ideal career paths, navigate a variety of situations that may be influenced by gender-related challenges, and offer a forum of support.
A year from its launch, the program has been a success with a good participation rate and results as reported by the female Baswareans. With International Women’s Day approaching, we wanted to put this topic in focus and decided to sit down with one of our most inspirational female leaders at Basware, Jane Broberg, our Chief HR Officer and sponsor of the program, to reflect on why this program has been a success and ask her to share her experiences as a woman and senior leader in the workplace.
Some of the topics we will explore in this Q&A session with Jane are how women can bring a unique, empowering presence to the workforce whilst managing their wellbeing and a healthy work-life balance.
Q: What experiences and challenges have you faced as a woman throughout your career? And how have you navigated these challenges?
A: There are a number of challenges I have faced over the years but there are a couple that stand out that talking to my female peers seem to also resonate with them.
The first challenge I can only describe as “finding my voice.” I can remember in the early stages of my career as an HR Business Partner sitting in a room with the Business Area Leadership team, listening intently to what was going on. I was challenging myself silently on whether I really understood the topics being discussed and forming opinions but I didn’t always feel confident to speak out and contribute. When it was my turn in the meeting to talk about the people's agenda, I could confidently stand up and share the content, but what I came to realise was I could add value way beyond this. I could bring a different perspective to the table, encourage what was nearly always a male leadership team to think about the topics in a different way, sometimes add a softer aspect, but always bring the people aspect to more commercially focused topics.
When I finally had the courage to speak up I surprised myself – the leadership team were respectful, they listened, they asked questions, and often what I said really made a difference. The more I spoke out, the more confident I became in myself. So I did understand the challenge. My opinions were valued. And above all what was important to me, I realised I can make a difference!
After 20 years working in the HR profession and 6 years in an Executive Leadership position, I have not only found my voice but worked on perfecting how I use it. Today I still find myself as the only female currently on the executive team a challenge I am taking seriously! But I feel privileged to always have a voice, feel respected by my peers and colleagues, and have never lost sight of trying to make a difference. I always encourage my female colleagues to make sure they have a voice and feel confident with it. Building your brand and bringing “YOU” to work is so important; never be afraid to be authentic.
Another challenge I have encountered has been balancing my career and being a Mum. Before having children, I had absolutely no time restrictions, I could do what it took – I worked as many hours as necessary because I wanted to. When I had my kids, I was very privileged to be able to take six years off which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I was still ambitious, and I wanted and needed to return to work – and when I returned, it was a completely different ballgame. Suddenly I had to find a balance between family and work and that was tough. I found myself feeling guilty when I didn't spend enough time with the kids, and feeling guilty when I didn't spend enough time on work – I realised I had to find a different way of working to be successful in both.
Looking back, some things really helped me succeed in my career and find the work-life balance I needed. In particular, flexibility, resiliency, confidence in who I am, and always being authentic. Basware has been a great company for me to strive for success but in my way, empowering me to simply be Jane.
I think over the years we have really developed the Baswarean culture and one thing I have personally felt very passionate about is ensuring we accommodate flexibility in the workplace. It is all about trust – a two-way partnership, as long as you deliver on your promises, show commitment, and are aligned with the company values, for sure the flexibility is there and you can achieve that work-life balance we all need. Now more than ever has this been important with this long and exhausting Covid-19 pandemic. We very naturally have responded to the situation by implementing a “hybrid flexible working model” ensuring we provide the flexibility Baswareans need whilst taking care of their health and safety, the tools are there for the taking!
Resilience is something we all need especially today. We have had a very exciting journey over the last few years. It's been very tough at times, naturally with ups and downs, and I have survived that partly due to being resilient. I believe I have always done what it takes to ensure the success of our great company and people and when the going got tough we have always been able to bounce back. I try to remember that with every down there's an upcoming. Positivity is key, and I intentionally try to see “the glass half full.” I feel quite sure that these actions have really helped me along the way to be the best person and employee I can be. So, I guess what I am saying in all of this is to have the courage to be YOU and make sure you find your voice.
Q: Tell us about the Women at Work mentoring program at Basware, why it was set up etc?
A: At Basware, like many technology companies, women are still a minority group. We have been steadily improving this over the years by improving the ratio of female leaders. Diversity and Inclusion are clearly very important so forming a women mentor program has given our Baswarean females a chance to grow together, learn from each other’s experiences, and personally develop whilst trying to ensure that every Baswarean female can find their voice.
Q: How do you hope the [email protected] mentoring can change the culture at Basware?
A: It’s a lot to do with inclusion and equality. Some of the time there is simply a perception that there is a lack of both so we aim to change any perception there might be and really make every Baswarean feel like they are equally great and belong.
Q: To recap, what general advice do you have for women just entering the workforce or women taking a leap into the workforce to ensure a healthy work/life balance?
Make sure you look for your voice and remember finding a good work-life balance that suits you is in the best interest of all parties – your family and your employer. But never forget this is also about YOU!