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Achieving Gender Parity in 2023 and Beyond: Best Practices from Construction Leader Hilti and Linkage

March 30, 2023 Katharine Panessidi

International Women’s Month and International Women’s Day offer a time to reflect on how we can advance women leaders and achieve gender parity in our workforce and our world.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, EMBRACE EQUITY, aligns perfectly to our mission at Linkage—and hopefully to the goals at your organization—as we all work toward a gender-equal world. One of the ways we do that is to take action to drive gender parity by building workplaces where women can thrive.

Hilti Group, a leader in the construction manufacturing industry, with 32,000 employees around the world in more than 120 countries, is a trailblazing organization focusing on the advancement of their women leaders. With a strong commitment to company culture, Hilti is ranked #8 among the 2022 World’s Best Workplaces and #4 among the 2022 Best Workplaces in Europe by the Great Place to Work®.

Recently, Jennifer McCollum, CEO of Linkage, a SHRM company, sat down with Elle Lebourg, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Hilti Group, to discuss how we are partnering to support, retain and advance women leaders at Hilti. The pair emphasized that we must focus on three critical areas, including accessing foundational data, delivering hands-on programming, and expanding impact through executive involvement.

Check out a summary of the actions you can take to make strides toward gender parity, which were shared during this webinar, and then tune in to the full, hourlong recorded session on-demand to explore the data in-depth and hear an engaging Q&A.



Understand your specific data. Every company is unique, therefore you must know your data so you know what levers to pull—this can be organization perception data, like we see in Linkage’s Advancing Women Leaders Organizational Assessment (AWOA), 360˚ data like in our AWL 360˚ Assessment, or even your own company’s engagement data. Be careful to focus on leading indicators—engagement, values fit, commitment—because if you only look at lagging indicators—hiring, promotion, attrition—it’s too late!

Hilti used the AWOA, as well as their own engagement surveys, to level-set and create aspirational goals. Then they used the data to determine what programming they would offer their women leaders. That’s step two below.


Meet the organization where it is. Invest in and deliver targeted leadership development for women aligned to your specific context, budget and outcomes.

For Hilti, this meant testing a program in North America before rolling it out globally: AWL Digital Academy plus 6 coaching sessions per participant. Elle explained, “Through the conversations with Linkage about our data and the hurdles women face, we honed in on some things we thought would be really critical. The combination of the Academy and learning about the hurdles, having the one-on-one coaching experience to deepen the learning between sessions, and then the group experience with peers… These three components were a really nice recipe to start with, and we’re excited to expand this program globally.”


Get your executives involved now. Organizations with executive team members who are highly involved get the best results. You need to build champions for women at every level, and executive sponsorship is an important first step.

When focusing on individual leadership development for women, you want them to be able to put what they learned into practice within a supportive culture. To take this development to the next level and make true organizational change, invest in your executives through executive sponsorship programs, like Linkage’s Cornerstone Program.

“Starting with the top-level executives, we are bringing in a structured program with tailored learning on how to be the most effective sponsor. Our executives do a lot of mentorship, but sponsorship is different, and coming out of this Executive Sponsorship program, our executives will model this behavior to the next level and so on, to expand the impact of our program and create change company-wide,” said Elle.

Program results:

Overall, Hilti took into account the aspiration of the women themselves. There was no expectation on the participants that this was a pipeline initiative; however 60% of participants have been promoted after going through the program. Additionally, Hilti’s 2023 goal was to have 30% of their leadership made up of women. They were able to reach that goal in 2022!

Individually, the program received incredible feedback from participants themselves. Read about two participants’ experiences below.

“AWL was one of the best investments that I’ve made in my development. Too often women focus on prioritizing others—everyone and everything around them and not on themselves. AWL was…one of the very few times in my career where there was dedicated space and time to be with other women leaders to openly share the challenges we face within the workplace, and to also be vulnerable and transparent when it came to sharing the struggles we face within ourselves: our inner critic.”
– Natasha Singh, Director of People Experience Center, Hilti North America

“The most impactful moment for me was during a coaching session where I had a breakthrough moment and overcame the hurdle of Clarity—of actually being honest with myself and identifying what I really wanted in my career path…. Making sure my priorities were heard by the organization helped me pivot and get where I wanted to be in my current role.”
– Meghan Clisch, Manager of Talent Management, Hilti North America

Where do you begin?

Tackling all three of these actions may seem overwhelming, but take it one step at a time. We can partner with you to help determine where and how to begin. As Elle said, “In the first year, one of the biggest lessons we learned is that sometimes you just need a third party to calibrate with. We have started to take an experiential approach with L&D. We’re seeing a ton of results from that. We don’t have all the answers, so we seek partners who have done the research and can help us experiment and find what’s right for us. The partnership with Linkage has opened our perspective.”

Want to talk about advancing your women leaders? Linkage can help! Reach out to learn more on how to get started today.

Dark haired woman watches from audience of conference event

Women in Leadership Institute

NOV. 13–16, 2023 | Orlando, Florida, or Virtual
A 4-day immersive learning experience designed to equip women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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