Isabelle Lenarduzzi rassemble des hommes et des femmes afin de créer une nouvelle donne économique, valorisant des pratiques managériales variées. Elle réinvente ce que réussir professionnellement et personnellement veut dire. Ses activités ont d’abord démarré en Belgique et en France et se répandent dorénavant dans d’autres pays européens. Isabella s’engage avec des multinationales, leurs dirigeants, leurs services RH ainsi que des réseaux professionnels féminins. Elle a recours à une stratégie de communication complexe, usant de son expertise unique pour fournir des conseils tant aux entreprises qu’aux consommateurs grâce à de larges campagnes de communication, du contenu éditorial et via les réseaux sociaux.
9 JUMP forums se sont déjà tenus à Bruxelles et Paris depuis 2007 avec plus de 2500 participants. 40 ateliers annuels – The JUMP Academy – ont été également organisés dans de nombreuses villes en France et en Belgique. Plus de 200 000 personnes reçoivent la newsletter mensuelle de JUMP. Trois éditions de “ Wo.Men@Work Awards “ se sont déjà tenues, campagnes marketing et médiatiques de grande ampleur qui sont valorisées à 500 000€ par an.
QUI EST-ELLE ?
Isabelle est une entrepreneuse en série et a créé sa première entreprise à l’âge de 22 ans. Son père est d’origine italienne et est venu en Belgique pour rejoindre son père mineur. Les différentes expériences personnelles d’Isabella l’ont convaincue de diriger son énergie et son esprit d’entreprendre vers la lutte contre les discriminations.
Isabella focuses on creating a permissive environment for these champions by legitimizing them within their own companies. Large multinational corporations are invited to sponsor and send their employees to a mainstream annual forum, which gives Isabella access to a strong pool of talent and leaders. Isabella is also creating the first Belgian community of equality managers (an important internal stakeholder group) and connects them with a broader European network to foster a culture of innovation separate from traditional leadership programs and corporate women networks. By recruiting and giving tools to a broad-based network of professional women who understand the need for a new corporate culture, Isabella exponentially grows the number of female middle managers who have the tools, networks, and self-confidence to change their self-image and promote their own style of leadership.
Corporate cultures are also not taking into account a growing social trend that is transforming traditional gender roles. For decades, men have aspired to professional success while women have focused on personal success (family and marriage.) Increasingly, aspirations are aligning: more than 90 percent of men and women want to succeed in raising their children while only 50 percent say professional success is a priority. Interestingly, the latest studies show that women surpass men in valuing their career success.
However, these shifting aspirations are slow to translate into changing attitudes and behaviors. Women may have new professional and personal goals, but they are not achieving them nor finding strategies to do so. Statistics show that only 13 percent of French women ask for a pay raise in their annual review
versus 23 percent of men; and that 1/3 of women hope for a promotion versus 2/3 of men. Underlying this reality is a lack of female role models that show “having it all” is possible.
While feminist efforts over recent decades have pushed legislation that protects equal rights for men and women; corporate culture has not changed. Companies are largely dominated by men. In 2010, women on average made up 12 percent of board members in the biggest publicly-listed companies across the European Union. Only 14 percent of board chairs were women. In male dominated workplaces, the definition of success is largely male. The prevailing idea in continental Europe remains that aspiring managers need to make themselves available anytime, anywhere with little consideration given to work-life balance. A certain male leadership style also prevails which often limits women from expressing their true values and personality. Instead, they try to adopt those values and personalities which are deemed more “successful” in the workplace.
Isabella is trying to shift this corporate culture by demonstrating that a more inclusive economic model is possible—one where men and women can have success both at work and at home. She provides a missing platform for all relevant stakeholders—including men—who want to change corporate culture, but do not have the support to do so, by providing them with the confidence, tools and the most strategic outlets to press for lasting change.
Isabella works to create a permissive environment that legitimizes individual champions of her vision. To create a supportive environment, she invites large corporations to engage in her vision through the annual forum she organizes in Belgium and now in France to advance the debate around gender equality and personal/professional success. “Men and women as allies for greater equality and performance” was the title of this year’s forum that welcomed over a thousand participants including experts, executives and professional women. Isabella has been very successful in mobilizing the largest corporations in Belgium and France, including Deloitte, Sodexo, IBM, and Danone to sponsor the forums, inviting their top and middle managers. Isabella has ambassadors within all major companies.
Isabella also engages companies through an awards strategy given out every year to an executive leader, to highlight his/her personal engagement in corporate culture change. These leaders have become her greatest allies, as this recognition gives them the internal legitimacy they need to push further progress within their corporations. For example, Tom Declerq, Managing Partner for Talent at Deloitte won the Women@work Award last year, said it helped him to promote gender equality within the company’s hierarchy and gave him the legitimacy to implement innovative equality programs. It was also an important moment from a personal perspective, as he feels he has a personal responsibility as an ambassador and role model on equality and diversity issues.
Isabella is also creating a supportive environment for corporate equality managers, another key stakeholder for shifting corporate culture. Because equality managers are isolated in their own silos, Isabella is creating the first of its kind network of equality managers in Belgium, across the country’s deep language barrier, which will become a platform to exchange practices, hear from experts and innovators, learn about cutting edge research, and accelerate their ability to transform gender equality programs within their companies.
Engaging individual champions and entire corporations around her vision is not enough to empower women who suffer from internalized discrimination and have adopted gender stereotypes as part of their self-image. Isabella has thus developed the Jump Women’s Academy for life-long learning. This offers a series of workshops and trainings to help women define their own success and influence the practices and culture around them, at work and at home. All content is relayed in a newsletter that reaches 170,000 women every month in Belgium and France. With three to four workshops each month in Brussels, Overijse (Flemish Belgium), and Paris, it is creating a sorority of women who reinforce each other’s decisions and determination to create change. Most women surveyed say they now have the self-confidence to start gender equality initiatives in their companies.
While most professional women’s networks target senior management, Isabella’s JUMP network targets middle management, ages 25 to 45, a crucial time for women in their personal lives and when companies often detect high potential. JUMP does not have membership fees and uses a sliding scale for event or training fees. Uniquely, it also works across all sectors (private, public, and citizen sectors) and focuses solely on the European continent. Its newsletter, events, workshops, and trainings are always offered in English and the local language(s). Active in Belgium and France and reaching out to women across Europe, Isabella aims to make JUMP a European leader on the issue within five years. She will expand forums and workshops in various countries, including Poland, Germany and Luxembourg, broadening her women’s network, influencing European Commission legislation, and developing a structured campaign on a new generation of male and female role models.
At a young age, Isabella developed an organization, La Voix des Femmes (translated to The Voice of Women), to empower immigrant women in Belgium to gain independence and become better agents of their lives. Using a location only accessible to women, she promoted cultural exchange and social mediation. In 1987, at 27, Isabella and two male associates created a media company which organized student fairs in European countries and published two monthly magazines to promote positive messages to young readers (aged 15 to 25).
Managing these companies, Isabella realized she always struggled to legitimize her leadership. Stakeholders saw her as an assistant and she did not feel recognized and valued as an associate and business partner; though she had been elected entrepreneurial woman of the year by a leading Belgian business magazine. Isabella started to imitate male behavior in managing her team and leading business meetings but felt disconnected from her true self.
Moving to Italy with her husband and children, Isabella rapidly took on the role of wife and mother, giving up many of her professional ambitions. Unhappy, she returned to Belgium and began to think about how to change women’s self-image and societal roles. Isabella created JUMP in 2006.