Credit: The NETWORK

On the evening of Wednesday 22 May 2024, Luxembourg-based international professional women's association The NETWORK held an event dedicated to "Diverse Women Professionals in Luxembourg", in honour of Diversity Month, at the University of Luxembourg Kirchberg campus.

As the organisers shared with, this event brought together a "vibrant mix" of about 70 women from various fields, each with their own unique career journey and insights to share. The gathering was "not just a celebration of individual success stories but a concerted effort to foster a supportive environment for women's career development". It also highlighted the importance of creating spaces where women can thrive both personally and professionally.

The critical role of feedback, mentoring and sponsorship in career advancement was a central theme. The speakers - Prof. Dr Anna E. Kornadt, full professor and department head at the University of Luxembourg, Anne Calteux, Head of the European Commission Representation in Luxembourg, Karin Proidl, Austrian Ambassador to Luxembourg, Laura A. Méndez Rodriguez, Head of Regulatory Compliance at Clearstream, and Patricia Cooke, Senior Vice President at Northern Trust Global Services - shared personal anecdotes about how constructive feedback helped them grow, how mentors provided guidance during pivotal moments and how sponsors advocated for their advancement. They highlighted these elements as essential tools for breaking through professional barriers and achieving long-term success.

The conversation also extended to the importance of men as allies in the workplace. The event emphasised that gender equality benefits everyone and having male allies can significantly impact the career progression of women. The versatility of transferable skills was another key topic. The speakers illustrated how skills acquired in one domain can be effectively applied to different roles and industries, thereby opening up new career opportunities.

Many women also shared their experiences of confronting and dismantling stereotypes that often hinder professional growth. The concept of "trailing spouse syndrome", where one partner's career often takes precedence over the other's, was discussed in depth. Strategies to overcome this included open and honest conversations with one's life partner about career aspirations and mutual support systems.

Self-care similarly emerged as a major subject, with several speakers stressing its importance for sustaining long-term career success. They discussed self-care practices, from setting boundaries to prioritising mental health. They also addressed impostor syndrome, sharing their strategies to combat self-doubt and boost self-esteem and emphasising the importance of recognising and celebrating one's achievements.

Another discussion centred on the need for open and honest conversations with life partners, children and other family members. As the organisers explained, "balancing career and family life often requires clear communication and mutual understanding". This dialogue can help in setting realistic expectations and garnering family support. The event also highlighted building self-esteem as a cornerstone of professional growth, with several women sharing personal stories of how they cultivated confidence over time.

The event concluded on a hopeful note, with attendees being reminded that despite any challenges along the way, they are not alone. "Together, they are creating a more inclusive and supportive professional landscape for all women," noted the organisers.

The "Diverse Women Professionals in Luxembourg" event took place within the framework of Diversity Month and brought together four signatories of the Diversity Charter Lëtzebuerg, namely: The NETWORK, Northern Trust, Clearstream and the University of Luxembourg.