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Valens Group out to fill the women in leadership pipeline

A new group has sprung up to lend backing to Kiwi women in the early and mid stages of their career who aspire to senior leadership.

Chairperson Helen Robinson was prompted to form Valens Group after co-creators and now fellow board members Angela Henderson, IS portfolio manager for Watercare Services and Soltius account manager Glenda Godfrey heard her speak at an event.

Robinson has now recruited PwC senior partner and CEO Bruce Hassall, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts chair Cathy Quinn and Cisco Systems country manager Geoff Lawrie to Valens Group’s board.

The organisation is all about giving women support to grow in confidence and making organisations more diverse, she says.

“Over quite a few years I’ve come to the realisation that the reason for less women in senior executive and leadership roles has less to do with the organisational intention and the people that run it and more to do with the number of younger women coming through the workforce.

“In my view the reason for that is women often lack confidence and often if they’re challenged, emotions come into play and it’s easier to just take a step back rather than being assertive and more proactive. If we can help with that and build confidence, we can create a greater flow of women coming in and a snowball effect. And have more diverse and productive organisations which will have a big impact economically. We know statistically worldwide when you have that those companies and countries perform better.”

The organisation promises short, sharp bi-montly events with a guest speaker, says Robinson.

The first, on 9 July, features minister Nikki Kaye speaking on the economic outlook.

Valens Group will fill a niche to set it apart from similar local initiatives like Global Women, of which Robinson is a member, Co of Women, which caters for entrepreneurs, and the Women of Influence programme, she says.

“I think what [Global Women] does is fantastic. It very much aims at the top echelon rather than the early to mid stage.”

Amanda Sachtleben is an Auckland writer and social media type, who's also Idealog's former tech editor and business journalist.

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