LEAD Network Netherlands Chapter Event – 31st October 2018


Hosted by Danone


After months of preparation and brainstorming, the highly anticipated day of the inaugural LEAD Network Netherlands Chapter Event, with a full house has made history for the LEAD Network, for the Netherlands and for the LEAD Network Netherlands Chapter!


During the Inaugural Event of The Netherlands Chapter in June, the 150 participants were asked for their topics of interest within the context of Diversity and Inclusion. The Chapter Committee selected the topic most highlighted, ‘Mentoring and Coaching of Female Talents’ as the subject of a subsequent roundtable session.

On October 31, Danone, the official sponsor of this roundtable, hosted a group of representatives from Partners at their offices at Schiphol: EY, ACNielsen, Johnson & Johnson, Danone, Unilever, and Kalypso (represented by Mick Broekhof, co-founder of LEAD Network). The Netherlands Chapter Committee participated and moderated this roundtable: Julia Jelinska (Ahold Delhaize), Lidija Tisljar (Nielsen), Marjan de Bock-Smit (Supply Chain Information Management), and Eric van der Hoeven (Danone).

Helen Richardson from Danone presented Danone’s experience and approach to ‘HE4SHE’ as part of its commitment to United Nation’s Sustainable Development programme. Helen shared great insights and practices to achieve gender balance in the workforce. She also shared leading practices on Danone’s Mentoring and Coaching programme and explained how it became a success story thanks to a bottom-up movement that engaged top management. Embedding inclusive behaviours in the organisation, creating a safe environment for employees of different gender, and creating awareness of the need for gender balance at all levels of leadership are key to success. A large number of mentors compared to mentees is seen as a best practice for the programme. The mentor’s role is hands-on opening up the network, whereas the continuity of the relationship is driven by the mentee.

The following thoughts and insights are highlights:

  • The outcome of mentoring should have a visible impact on the objectives defined by the mentee.
  • A KPI for success is when all mentoring meetings have taken place.
  • Offer to mentor to all female high-potentials to ensure “the closing of the crocodile’s mouth” (the decrease of the share of females at higher ranks).
  • High-ranked female role models will make mentoring more effective; especially when they openly address (unbiased) perceptions (e.g. part-time work is less appreciated then full-time).
  • Carefully matching mentors and mentees to increase the chance of success. A large pool of mentors is a pre-requisite.
  • A good orchestration of mentoring leads to higher diversity and inclusiveness, driving a strong ROI.
  • Be aware of the difference between mentoring and coaching: mentoring includes sponsorship whereas coaching has a large element of counseling.
  • External mentoring can be useful. The Mentoring Program offered to Partners of LEAD Network could be further leveraged to the benefit of members and Partners.
  • The Chapter Committee would like to thank all participants of the roundtable. The conclusions will have an impact on plans for the future – including follow-up on the topics discussed.

By Eric van der Hoeven, Marjan De Bock-Smit, and Ekin Demir