Developing tomorrow’s female leaders

Author: Agnès Hussherr, Global Diversity & Inclusion Leader. PricewaterhouseCoopers International

Agnes PicsSaturday 8 March marks International Women's Day. As we celebrate the achievements of women in the workforce and beyond, my advice for leaders is don’t limit your focus to the leadership gender gap; organisations also need to focus on developing the female leadership pipeline. 

We know that organisations the world over are currently challenged with a lack of women in leadership positions and concerned with the competitive and financial toll this could mean for their organisation.  I believe that to achieve sustainable change, CEOs must be committed to driving parallel efforts which tackle enhanced leadership diversity in conjunction with systemic change efforts targeting their workforce from day one.  Organisations need to be focused on developing talented junior women now for future leadership roles.  When talent rises to the top, everyone wins.

But to get this right organisations must first understand how to attract, develop and retain female millennial talent. 

Born between 1980 and 1995, female millennials make up a significant proportion of the current and future talent pool. Female millennials matter because they are more highly educated and are entering the workforce in larger numbers than any of their previous generations. Data from The World Bank indicates that 40% of the global labour force is currently female. Despite this, women remain scarce at the top with only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs currently female. Yet, the female millennial has likely outperformed her male counterparts at school and at university and is the most confident of any female generation before her.  She considers opportunities for career progression the most attractive employer trait.  When it comes to the female millennial we really are dealing with a new era, both in terms of the make-up of the workforce she enters and the career mind-set with which she enters. 

PwC’s 17th Annual Global CEO Survey shows that a growing number of CEOs (63%) are concerned about the threat the availability of key skills presents to their growth prospects. Meanwhile, female millennials look set to form approximately 25% of the global workforce by 2020.  Attracting the best of these millennial workers is critical to the future of your business. And forming talent strategies tailored for this group will be a vital step to achieving the long-term aims and ambitions of any organisation.

When it comes to this new era of talent I believe there are a number of difficult questions that leaders must ask:

  • How well-prepared is your organisation to find, attract and keep tomorrow’s workforce – even as you deal with today’s talent challenges?
  • How are you adjusting your talent strategies to consider the female millennial?
  • Do you have the right talent structures in place to enable this talent segment to thrive?
  • How will you manage employees with different needs, aspirations and experiences from those of your own generation?

You can learn more about the challenges and opportunities the female millennial presents your organisation in our Next Generation Diversity: Developing tomorrow’s female leaders report. 

Agnès Hussherr

Global Diversity & Inclusion Leader. PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited and Banking & Capital Markets Assurance Partner, PwC France

For more about how PwC is changing the conversation about diversity and talent, please visit pwc.com/iwd.

Based in Paris, Agnès Hussherr joined PwC France in 1989 and became a partner in 2001. She is a client relationship partner in Assurance with clients in the banking industry. For the past four years, she has been PwC France’s Assurance Human Capital Leader and she was recently appointed as the firm’s Transformation Leader.

In her new role as Global Diversity Leader since July 1, 2013, Agnès will focus her efforts on bringing more diversity throughout the PwC network. She will also coordinate the Diversity & Inclusion initiatives for PwC’s Europe, Middle East, Africa and India region, as well as PwC France.


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