Ericsson understands the value of women in leadership and focuses on cultivating its key performers into critical business roles. Their FUEL program is a multi-faceted development program designed to improve the representation of women in leadership through tailored training, community support and opportunities. We spoke to the two co-chairs and some participants to hear what impact the program has had so far.
Bringing women into leadership
FUEL was created after two women approached an executive about introducing a leadership development program for women. Ericsson listened, and in 2015 launched with the first FUEL intake.
Prior to FUEL, there was no specific program tailored for emerging women in leadership. Although there were a number of leadership pathways available, there was no particular method for women to raise their profiles, network with other leaders or develop their leadership skills.
The results now speak for themselves, with a 58% promotion rate among those that have completed the program. Of those that haven’t been promoted, one in five of them reported they now have additional responsibilities and line management opportunities. There are many ways to meet your career objectives and the FUEL program supports all pathways. On top of the impressive promotion rates for FUEL participants, 97% said the program was useful and 88% said their work performance was positively improved due to FUEL. So, FUEL is having a huge impact.
As one of 85 women to have completed the program so far, Service Delivery Manager Ha Luu had only positive things to say about the program:
“FUEL has enabled me to organically grow as a leader, and provided a way for me to network with other talented women. The program gave me greater self-awareness, confidence and leadership skills.”
Developing amazing women
The FUEL program offers a wide breadth of training for participants. The program covers topics as broad as Authentic Leadership, Strategic Influence, EQ & Confidence, Networking & Sponsorship, Persuasive Presentations, Business Storytelling, Personal Branding, Leadership Disruptors, and Understanding Self. Ericsson really are focusing on developing the whole person and creating leaders in every aspect of their lives.
The ripple effect is that every woman involved in FUEL has the opportunity to go on to create her own impact during her leadership journey. Solution Architect Raminder Sharma shared her experience:
“I love FUEL as it helps me stay focused and motivated. As a woman, there are so many personal responsibilities that sometimes we can end up neglecting our own career growth. Constant interaction via FUEL and networking with FUEL members helps me keep my career hat on as well. The best part is that everyone is either in the same boat or has been in the past so they understand you and can provide great advice.”
Having an impact with FUEL
FUEL is a program run by women for women, and the women who run it are incredibly proud of that. Speaking with Forum Metpally, who runs the program with her colleague Fahmida Nasir, she shared what her most proud moment about FUEL was:
“[I can’t believe] how far it has come since it started in 2015. We have seen flow-on effects not only in the areas of job promotions but in forming a community and platform for women to raise their profile and network together with other like-minded women. In 2015, we were a group of around 15, and today we’ve grown to 85 participants. The main purpose of this program is to assist women in developing themselves. When we see that happening, it gives meaning to FUEL’s purpose. [I feel most proud] when we receive feedback from participants about how FUEL has helped them in their personal and professional development.”
“FUEL is a safe space for women from diverse backgrounds and with a diverse range of experiences to grow their skills and experiences. Joining this community would help an emerging woman leader in many ways, even if it’s just sharing their problems and seeking professional and personal advice.”
Co-Chair Fahmida added:
“FUEL is a space where I can share my excitements, my achievements, my frustrations and I can vent without the fear of being judged. Although this is a large community with a diverse set of people, somehow, we all connect, and we all speak the same language. It is not only the workshops which are great, it is also about feeling included in a community of brilliant people. FUEL has played a vital role in raising my profile across the organization, which being an introvert, has been a great tool for me to be heard.”
Women leading at Ericsson into the future
FUEL is going from strength to strength – and so are its members. But Ericsson isn’t stopping there. The 16-strong committee run and facilitate a number of initiatives to benefit the participants. There are workshops, networking opportunities, programs to consolidate learnings and much more. FUEL hosts internal and external events and uses every opportunity to raise the profiles of women who are participating.
Leadership development and a cultural shift towards gender equality is never a quick fix, and with FUEL Ericsson is focusing on a range of activities to have a real impact. Forum shared:
“A number of initiatives are being run as part of the FUEL program to get members’ profiles raised. We would like to make this program tailored for groups who are at different levels in their career. We have 85 FUEL cohorts at this moment enrolled over 6 years including the FUEL 2021 class and we would like to offer separate programs and workshops depending on the experience levels and requirements. We would also like to include new initiatives such as return to work for the women returning after long maternity leave or an onboarding program for new female joiners.”
With a continued focus on women, a growing number of FUEL alumni, and increased participation from the women in creating what they need to support their development, FUEL and Ericsson will continue to move more women into senior leadership – and reap the rewards of their diverse workforce.