In October 2020, for the second year running, we marked International Day of the Girl, an annual initiative of the United Nations.

We held a virtual event designed to inspire and empower the business leaders of the future.

Led by our team in Switzerland, 120 young women aged between 18 and 23 from across North and South Europe (NSE) were tasked with coming up with a solution to a challenge set by two of our clients. Their ideas and confidence quickly impressed our judging panel.

Picking up the baton in 2021, our team in Italy evolved the event further, bringing the total number of young women impacted to just under 200.

We had the means to teach young women important skills, help them put those skills into practice, and introduce them to valuable business contacts, as well as like-minded peers.
Elise Kammerer

Purpose and Corporate Social Responsibility Lead, Deloitte Switzerland

Years in the making

Deloitte Switzerland has been running programmes that focus on the empowerment of young women for several years. It started with NGO Plan International, to give young women the opportunity to experience what it’s like to be the CEO of a company.

While the programme was a success, Deloitte Switzerland’s Purpose and Corporate Social Responsibility Lead, Elise Kammerer and her team realised they could go further.

“We wanted to do our own celebration,” explains Elise. “We had the means to teach young women important skills, help them put those skills into practice and introduce them to valuable business contacts as well as like-minded peers.”

Making the most of our business capabilities and partnerships, Elise and the team designed an event that focused on underserved communities and the empowerment of young women.


Taking place for the first time in Switzerland in 2019, eight more NSE geographies were inspired to get involved in 2020 and help orchestrate the one-day event.

As with our previous programmes, participants still gained insights into what it’s like to work at Deloitte. The 2020 event offered a hands-on workshop, where attendees learned valuable business skills that they could apply to solve business problems set by our clients.

Through a targeted recruitment campaign that asked ‘what’s your superpower?’, we received 300 applicants from across NSE. A total of 120 young women from Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Malta and the Middle East made the final cut​.

Opening the event was Liza Engel, Deloitte Switzerland’s Chief People Officer, who inspired participants with a speech about playing to your strengths and believing in yourself. “Liza’s speech really blew everyone away,” says Elise. “She set the tone for the day, and everyone felt really motivated.”

The assignment

Participants were put into groups and given one of four challenges set by our clients. Each group was assigned a coach from Deloitte, along with a product owner from one of our clients.

The challenges were diverse in nature and showed how a fundamental set of business skills can be applied to all kinds of industries and contexts.

Time was tight, with just a few hours to perfect their proposals before being reviewed by the judging panel. But everyone rose to the challenge, and the winning group was given the opportunity to pitch to our clients.

“All the participants enjoyed solving a real business problem from a well-known brand,” says Elise. And it wasn’t all work. “There was lots of fun, too, including an emoji wall and a quiz – not to mention the networking opportunities.” ​

It's an event that not only helps young women realise they can achieve great things, it helps us to better serve our clients, too.
Elise Kammerer

Purpose and Corporate Social Responsibility Lead, Deloitte Switzerland

Connecting young women

Even though they only met for a day, and never actually met in person, the young women who took part last year have stayed in touch with each other. “They’ve created their own networking group on social media,” remarks Elise.

One participant from Oman said she felt that the event gave her a window to the world. This was particularly poignant during a time of strict COVID-19 related lockdowns in many of the young women’s home countries.

​It wasn’t just the participants who got a lot out of the event, our clients and people did, too.

“Everyone was inspired by the women’s creativity, not to mention how much they achieved in so little time,” says Elise.

The 2020 challenges:

  1. Develop a haircare product with a focus on sustainability
  2. Come up with a way to ensure that patients who require long-term treatment continue to take their medication
  3. Tackle the issue of mobility and devise a plan that encourages people to take public transport
  4. Develop a finance product for the over-65 market

Inspiring future generations

For Elise, the event shows the impact we can make. “It’s about education, empowering young women, diversity and inclusion,” she says.

In 2021, the team in Switzerland passed the baton to Deloitte Italy to host the virtual event. Ready to build on the success of last year, they decided to follow a similar format, with a focus on business skills. To keep things fresh, 2021 also included a session with an executive business coach.

“We really wanted the candidates to take a lot away from the event this year,” explains Chrystelle Simon, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader at Deloitte Central Mediterranean. “The one-hour session with the coach really helped them understand gender bias, female behaviours in the workplace as well as key skills such as how to pitch and present.”