Specialists in health professions, IT, construction, production, gastronomy – Switzerland has been lacking them all, at least since the end of the Corona pandemic. The reasons for this shortage of skilled workers have been widely researched, but opinions differ on how to solve the problem.
One question that is rarely asked in this context is the culture of our companies: For example, how attractive is it for skilled workers from abroad, for women, for young people of Generation Z to work in our companies?
Already years ago, a study by Brands, Menges and Kilduff * found that companies would have to actively change their culture if they wanted to see more women in leadership positions – away from strong hierarchies towards social structures that are characterized by cohesion and that enable women to be noticed and to contribute. What applies to women could also be transferred to other groups of people, especially Generation Z. A good reason for companies to take a critical look at their own culture – and not only in sectors with a shortage of skilled workers.
A cultural change does not happen overnight, because the corporate culture is based on lived values, on traditions, on the behavior of people at all levels of the company. The initiative for a cultural change must come from the leadership, but for the change to be crowned with success, it must be supported by everyone. However, not every manager is yet aware of the role of a diversity-promoting culture, and some may even be afraid of it. For example, Bilanz titled its November 2022 issue “Her against him / Women’s advancement: the workplace becomes a combat zone”. A title that speaks volumes. In order to have enough qualified workers in the future, Switzerland will need all skilled workers – and thus probably also different leadership models and cultures in its companies.
With this in mind, Rochester-Bern Executive Programs, a business school based at the University of Bern, has created the German-language CAS program “Leadership and Inclusion”. It provides managers of all genders not only with a better understanding of their own leadership personality and common leadership tools, but also with approaches to promoting a diversity-promoting corporate culture that includes all employees of a diverse workforce. Openness, understanding and support are the basis for productive collaboration among mixed teams. Such a culture could prove to be not only a remedy for the skills shortage, but also a recipe for more women in responsible roles, innovation, competitiveness and job satisfaction.