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117 years until gender equality reaches the workplace?
Interview with Iwona Kozera, EY CSE Advisory Leader, Founder of Women Leadership in Business Foundation

Women make up more than half the population of the world. Yet leadership positions in business and governments are predominantly held by men. According to the World Economic Forum, it will take 117 years until we reach gender parity in the workplace. At EY, we want to speed up the change and close the gender gap sooner with our Women. Fast Forward activities, including Women³. The Power of Three events.

Several women from EY in Poland are active members of the Women Leadership in Business Foundation, whose aim is to increase the proportion of women in senior executive positions, while promoting entrepreneurship. EY in Poland invited Foundation members, from both within and outside EY, to a local Women³ roundtable discussion on the experienced economy, and also to the EMEIA Women³ event in Istanbul.

Today, we talk to Iwona Kozera, CSE Advisory Leader, and a founding member of the Women Leadership in Business Foundation, who is based in our Warsaw office.

Iwona, you have recently been awarded for your active role in supporting gender parity in the workplace. Congratulations! Can you tell us more about your personal involvement in the Women Leadership in Business Foundation and Women. Fast Forward activities?

I have been active in the Women Leadership in Business Foundation since it was founded in January 2014. The Foundation is a platform for the members to share our business experiences, develop our talents and support the professional independence of women.

EY’s Women. Fast Forward program gives us all an opportunity to engage in actions to support gender parity in the workplace. We can do it in many ways. I personally participate in both internal as well as external activities to raise awareness about the gender gap. In addition, I mentor women who have the aspiration to grow their careers.

What impact does Women. Fast Forward have on your female colleagues and clients in Poland?

I do believe that it is helping increase the knowledge of the benefits of diversified leadership teams. It also encourages women to strive to develop professionally. At the same time, it helps top executives to focus on gender inequality issues. They start realizing that although solutions are not easy, doing nothing is not an option.

Our Women. Fast Forward platform has alre ady won the prestigious Best Global Initiative for Women's Economic Empowerment Award at the Global WIL (Women in Leadership) Achievement Awards. 

Also, a number of EY people were awarded for supporting gender parity in the workplace; and two of them come from our Polish practice! Iwona Kozera and Katarzyna Twarowska were recognized for their contributions to the economic empowerment of women and won The International Alliance for Women’s World of Difference 100 award. 

What actions are being taken locally following the Women³ events?

Women leaders, both from EY and from outside EY, are now actively working together to bring best practices to the market around the roles that experienced women can play in business and the economy. We are also preparing a report on the participation of women on boards in Poland.

What advice would you give to women seeking leadership roles? 

Women should actively seek new opportunities and not underestimate their own competencies and suitability for new positions. Be yourself.

EY CSE News Editor: Alexandra Bohinska

29 Mar 2016

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