A fresh approach to diversity in leadership development

A fresh approach to diversity in leadership development

Talent retention and promotion of diversity in leadership is a universal challenge, to which AMP has been responding effectively in a variety of ways.  Striving for ongoing improvement, a group of senior AMP women executives started thinking about how the company could add something new to complement our existing initiatives – something innovative and dynamic that could make a real difference.

​We decided that designing a new, bespoke programme from scratch was the best approach, and the proposal was put forward to AMP’s leadership team. As a member of that team, I can say that the idea appealed to everyone and was quickly given the green light.

Getting the design right

To ensure the programme design was underpinned by best-practice theory, and to support its execution, we enlisted the skills of Yvonne McLean, a top executive coach and facilitator who specialises in leadership development.

To inform programme design, we drew on experience, learnings and feedback gathered and assessed over many years. We also conducted a survey of AMP women within our established talent programme to determine what they considered to be their leadership development needs.

After a lot of hard work, the outcome was the launch earlier this year of a highly-tailored, unique leadership development programme we are very proud of – the AMP Pathways Programme.

The ingredients of a unique leadership development programme

The programme consists of five key modules based on career planning, confidence building, presenting, networking and influencing, and dealing with conflict.

A unique practical feature of the programme, which will focus on applying learned skills through teamwork – and, we expect, create tangible business benefits for AMP – is the Pathways Programme Business Challenges initiative. In groups, programme participants will take on real AMP business challenges, regularly report to the AMP leadership team and deliver the solution.

In addition, participants will each receive one-on-one coaching to personalise what they learn from the modules, and assist in applying it to their individual practical work environment.

Another unique aspect of the AMP Pathways Programme is that the inaugural participants of the programme in 2013 will be trained in executive coaching themselves; up-skilling so that they can in turn coach and mentor subsequent years’ participants.

Talented women are nominated from all areas of the AMP business to take part in the programme. The 2013 intake of 14 women from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, come from backgrounds including distribution, wealth management, finance, marketing, legal, HR and customer services.

Early feedback shows that the participants are particularly enjoying the opportunity to build relationships with senior women from different parts of AMP. In the future they will have a support network of senior women across the organisation with whom they have established relationships.

Complementing existing diversity initiatives

The Pathways Programme complements existing AMP initiatives designed to support diversity, such as a flexible approach to working arrangements and hours, including job-sharing, part-time work and work from home. Since 2009, AMP has also provided 14 weeks of full paid parental leave, on top of the Government entitlement.

AMP’s commitment to diversity is demonstrated by the high number of women in senior roles; last year 48% of senior roles were filled by women. The AMP Pathways Programme is about taking this to the next level.

Fostering diversity in leadership is good for business

It’s in AMP’s interests as a business to foster talent and to ensure that our leadership pool is representative of, and responsive to, our diverse customer base of around 900,000 New Zealanders.

Running the Pathways Programme for new groups of senior AMP women annually means every year AMP will increase and enhance its pool of senior women business leaders. This bodes well for the future and we’re certainly excited about it.

Therese Singleton is the executive legal counsel for AMP Financial Services New Zealand.