Empowering Women on Boards: a Showcase of Opportunities for Women in Luxembourg

As you regarded the elegant entrance hallway of Arendt & Medernach, the numerous gathering of women was physical proof that they wanted to understand better how women can access powerful decision-making positions. More than 70 women got together on the evening of the 19th of October to learn more about empowering women on boards.

And who else would be more qualified to advise us on this subject than Rita Knott, the International Female Board Pool Initiative leader in Luxembourg and five other countries, whose dream is to establish equal gender participation in decision-making positions.  Rita has been part of The NETWORK since the beginning; this was her third appearance on The NETWORK stage.

The sense of belonging was instilled from the very beginning by Rita, who, as a true women’s supporter, warmly welcomed each of us in front of the colourful amphitheatre.

The event started with our President, Mariana Florea, emphasizing that there is still a need for women’s empowerment, as little progress has been made since 1982, when the first EC Resolution on promoting equal opportunities for women was adopted.

Then, Dalia Brandone presented her Architecture & Interior Design Studio +352. This is part of a ritual we have: every monthly event,  one or two members of The Network share the stories of their businesses.

Afterwards, Rita Knott started her workshop. Rita’s story strongly resonated with us, her audience, as we listened to her sharing her experience as the only woman on the board of directors for a bank.  That’s why she has become the Matchmaker through her non-profit initiative “International Female Board Pool”, founded in 2011,  where she works with her daughter. The initiative matches highly qualified, board-ready or board-experienced women with companies looking for females with specific profiles. Companies often claim they would love to have more females in board positions but that there are not enough suitable candidates. But Rita doesn’t agree. She claims that these are bogus arguments noting that in her pool alone, there are 645 candidates for Luxembourg and an additional 205 candidates available for five other countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, and The Netherlands).

Lastly, the session became even more engaging when we performed a one-minute elevator speech in groups of five or six, in which we promoted ourselves. We reflected on our hard and soft skills and connected through meaningful conversations in these smaller groups.

All in all, there were some powerful messages Rita left us with, based on her experience in accompanying many women in their journey as board candidates or board members:

  • Learn by doing, do not wait to be perfect for applying for a position on a board
  • We, as women, should be there for each other as “there is a place in hell for women who do not support other women”
  • There are some hard and soft skills a board member should have. Even though we may not be aware, most of the time, we are already qualified for such a position – all we need to do is get clarity on the value we can bring to a board, position ourselves as such, make a plan and execute it.

As always, the networking session at the end was a natural and dynamic extension of the workshop since the conversations kept flowing.