Leaders for Equality

Managers Seizing Opportunities


Leaders for Equality – Managers Seizing Opportunities

What can managers do to promote gender equality in Swiss companies for both men and women?

The goal: More women in management positions 

Swiss companies still lack women in management. Many companies want to change this. They are looking for further measures that move beyond todays exclusive focus on promoting women. We identify the up to now largely disregarded group of male managers as key players
"Leaders for Equality" creates the necessary knowledge and develops strategies and measures that tap the potential of male managers for fostering equal opportunities at work.

Research context
The proportion of women in the management of Swiss companies remains extremely low. Company management thus leaves essential economic potential unused. At the same time, equal opportunities are not consistently guaranteed and corporate cultures and structures are still geared to male biographies. This is already known and creates a need for being implemented more strongly in gender equality activities. Although measures for the qualification and empowerment of women make sense and are necessary, the proportion of women in management positions has not increased enough so far. The assumption that the focus on women alone will change the situation does not go far enough. Individual measures for women to better reconcile career and family, to expand skills such as mentoring and seminars, to implement women's networks, etc. are, although important, not sufficient. This is because these activities are usually geared to women changing and adapting to the circumstances of the company, which is often referred to as "fixing the women". However, the necessary changes in corporate structure and culture are largely ignored.

Limiting equal opportunities to be a "women's issue", the role of male colleagues, superiors and employees has all too often remained invisible and thus also unused. Initiating the necessary cultural change, however, it is indispensable not only to get all employees in the company on board, but in particular the - still predominantly male - managers.

To succeed: include more men in the quest for equal opportunities

The aim of "Leaders for Equality" is to support companies in involving male managers for fostering equal opportunities. With our research, we first find out what male managers think about equality, what they can do to support women in management positions, what they already do, and also what equal opportunities realizes for them. Building on this, we develop innovative measures in collaboration with committed companies, which we then make available to all interested companies, managers and equality officers in an online toolbox.

Project goals and measures

With a nationwide quantitative survey of managers in all national languages and group discussions with men and women in management positions, we create the necessary knowledge about the current status quo: so far, there has been a lack of knowledge about the attitudes, experiences and ideas of male managers on the subject of gender equality.


Collaborating with five committed companies from various sectors, we develop measures and strategies to increase the proportion of women in management positions in the long term.

Knowledge transfer:

The measures developed are prepared in such a way that they can be used by companies throughout Switzerland. They are available in the form of an online toolbox on this website for transfer to companies, politicians and the general public. 

Cooperations: these companies joined our project

As part of the project, we work with five Swiss companies to examine the status quo as well as strategies and measures for involving male executives.

Feller AG

More information to follow.

Helvetia Insurance

Helvetia Logo EN

In 160 years, the Helvetia Group has grown from a number of Swiss and foreign insurance companies into a successful international insurance group. With some 6,600 employees, the company provides services to more than 5 million customers. 

«Helvetia respects and promotes diversity and the uniqueness of its employees. Helvetia believes that different views lead to positive friction and innovative ideas. We are convinced that with gender-mixed leadership we can strengthen Helvetia to be an agile, customer-centered and innovative company and achieve its goals. That's why we want to increase the number of women in management positions. From the study, we hope to get concrete starting points for how we can mobilize executives and thus promote diversity.»

Genossenschaft Migros Ostschweiz

More information to follow.

Schweizerische Bundesbahnen SBB

More information to follow.

The project is supported by an expert advisory board.

Expert Advisory Board

Members of the advisory board are:

Jürg Eggenberger Photo

Jürg Eggenberger
Executive Director Schweizer Kaderorganisation (SKO)

Jürg Eggenberger studied Economics at the University of Zurich and completed a master's degree in services marketing and management as well as further education in organizational development. Since 2013, he is managing director of the Swiss cadre organization SKO (www.sko.ch) and board member of the sfb Bildungszentrum. Previously, he was Rector of Kalaido University of Applied Sciences and has held senior management functions and seats in boards of directors as well as in foundations in various industries. He is co-author of the practice-oriented textbook "Flexible Workforce - Fit for the Challenges of the Modern Work Environment?".

«Why do I participate in this project? Firstly, because the SKO supports goals, projects and measures to realize true equality of men and women. Secondly, because the proportion of women at management level in Switzerland stagnates – despite many initiatives. Switzerland has one of the lowest rate of women in management positions compared to EU countries. The quality of women's leadership cannot be the reason why women are not getting leadership positions. Research has long shown that mixed-gender teams increase the quality of decision-making and increase creativity and innovation, as well as better reflect market needs. For demographic reasons too, it makes sense to increase the proportion of women in the labor market. The promotion of women also affects men. They feel threatened as thought patterns are broken and behaviors are questioned. Their inclusion in funding programs is so far poor. They need to be able to understand what the added value of promoting women is for the company and, for those affected as victims, in order to be able to support measures. The project aims to cover this gap.»

Photo Sonia Studer

Sonia Studer
Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Nestlé

Sonia Studer, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Nestle. She has over 17 years’ experience in Human Resources Management in senior leadership roles in Nestlé: Nestle International Headoffice, Nestle Suisse, Nespresso, Nestle Purina Petcare Europe in Switzerland and in the UK. She  holds a master Degree in Business Administration of University of St Gallen, Switzerland, a coaching certification, and her background is multicultural as she is swiss with German and Algerian roots.
This project is very important to her and the company.

«At Nestlé our ambition is to create a business culture, environment and leadership that provide equal opportunities for everyone to contribute, grow and feel valued.»

Andy Keel Portrait

Andy Keel 
Andy Keel, MSc, BA, Founder of Gender Diversity Consulting Do-it-smart and owner of the Teilzeit AG 

Over 10 years of experience in the strategic anchoring and operational implementation of flex work and gender diversity in medium and large companies.

«With the campaign "Teilzeitmann" (part-time man), more than 100'000 men could acquire part-time positions. With this expertise, it was a must for me to support the initiators in this important project.»

Betina Balitzki 
Diversity expert 

Josef Dabernig
Senior manager, Holacracy at Unic

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The Federal Office for Gender Equality provides financial support to the project «Leaders for Equality» in accordance with the Gender Equality Act.

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