Female Academy is Deloitte’s initiative to attract young female talents and empower them to bring their personal and professional talents into play.
Each year, a group of female students get access to Deloitte Female Academy – a space where self-reflection and development of capabilities are encouraged, and where the students can expand their network with peers, professionals and leaders.
In 2018, Simone Emilie Stieglitz and Alexandra Rosenberg Jørgensen participated in Female Academy as students. Today, they work in Deloitte’s Finance & Performance function in Consulting and are part of the group who drives the initiative.
A safe space for reflection
Female Academy strives to inspire future female leaders and help them reach their full potential. Through the initiative, the students are introduced to a wide array of career paths and have the possibility to interact with professionals from all of Deloitte’s business units.
For Simone and Alexandra, Female Academy became a learning experience which brought lasting professional relationships, an invaluable network and a desire to give back to other young females. As Simone puts it:
“It is rewarding to be a part of a network of likeminded women who inspire and challenge you as a person, while having fun. As a participant myself, I felt empowered. That I had been given a safe space where those around me truly listened and guided me. This sparked a desire to give back and become part of driving the initiative.”
Making an impact for females
Female Academy consists of six sessions over the course of three months. During the sessions, the participants are exposed to different role models and engage with each other on topics such as personality types, well-being and presentation skills.
Although the programme itself only lasts a few months, it lays ground for opportunities and a strong network of ambitious women – something Alexandra has experienced first-hand.
- I have gained such a valuable network. Many of us women that have participated in the academy over the years keep in touch to this day. It has provided me with inspiration and role models – and it still does. An impact that extends far beyond the months of the official academy. The network that is created both from participating but also driving Female Academy cultivates lasting relationships across Deloitte which foster knowledge sharing, instigate multi-disciplinary collaborations and increase your sense of belonging.
Recently, the purpose of fostering community and lasting relationships was manifested in the establishment of the Female Academy Alumni Network – a network for former participants and drivers of the initiative. The kickoff took place in October 2021 – a great evening where the participants shared experiences and advice, joined by managing partner of Deloitte’s Risk Advisory business, Mette Kaagaard, who gave the group a warm welcome.
Driving diversity on a broader scale
Facilitating an initiative like Female Academy is truly empowering – but it also comes with being the target of skepticism.
- I am often asked ‘Why a females-only initiative?’ and I understand where the question comes from, Alexandra says, adding:
- However, with the increasing debate over the past years, I believe many have come to realise that extra effort is still needed to promote gender balance. With Female Academy, we aim to provide a platform and network for women interested in a career within the professional services industry, which traditionally has a male-dominated culture. The gender balance in Danish professional services firms – including Deloitte – is not up to par. With Female Academy, we want to contribute to promoting gender balance. It is our little drop in the ocean to try to speed up the change.
Besides striving to make progress on gender balance, Simone and Alexandra believe that the initiative drives diversity on a much broader scale. For instance, 40 percent of the participants in 2021 had a different nationality than Danish. In Simone’s view, the initiative stimulates the right conversations in Deloitte.
- What we do with Female Academy leads to action-driven conversations around how we foster even more diversity in Deloitte. It becomes a catalyst for speaking up about the fact that we are not diverse enough. We start with gender because we believe it will drive diversity in other aspects.
A future without a need for Female Academy
Female Academy will continuously reassess its focus to ensure that it stays relevant and covers prevailing trends and topics. The possibilities of evolving it are endless – and it even inspires across borders.
- We were contacted by Deloitte in Norway who are interested in establishing a similar initiative. It’s great to see the ripple effect of what we do, and it’s a testament to the impact Female Academy is making, Simone states.
- I see Female Academy becoming a strong network of ambitious females who can continue to support and spare with each other, building valuable relations both professionally and personally. It gives me so much purpose to experience the impact the academy makes for the participants – and for us in Deloitte. Now we have launched the alumni network and expanded the number of participants, Alexandra adds and continues:
- But I also hope we don’t need a Female Academy in three to five years – that the conversations we are currently having around gender balance and equality have paid off.
Female Academy opens for submissions in mid-December and is looking to recruit new participants who can become part of the network – and contribute to making an impact that matters. Read more about Female Academy.