velvet or boxing gloves

Study – velvet or boxing gloves

In collaboration with Womenizing

Download | DE Study

Velvet or boxing gloves? What helps women on their way to the top?


For this study, the experts from The Culture Institute and Womenizing surveyed over 40 women in top leading positions. It turns out that only 16% of the women surveyed see gender equality achieved in companies. They all agree that companies need to do more to promote women in business.

The study also reveals that widespread practices, such as common diversity programs or standardized mentoring, are not closing the gender gap in organizations.


Performance culture instead of diversity Program (see p. 13-15)

Based on the Business Culture Design approach, participants evaluated what has helped them most in their careers.


Two cultural patterns were particularly valuable on the way to the top: distinctive performance cultures in which wemen can distinguish themselves through results, as well as individual mentoring. This contrasts with mainstream diversity programs, which are typically formally structured and less performance-oriented.


Female ambidexterity – women in top positions promote a healthy innovation culture (see pp. 19-21).

Many traditional and successful companies in the German-speaking region are very much operating in exploitation mode, by optimizing day-to-day business and innovating incrementally. What they find difficult is exploration, i.e. exploring and trying out the radically new. What they find difficult is exploration – in other words exploring and experimenting with the radically new.

The leadership style of the women surveyed exhibits precisely those qualities that many companies are looking for in order to break up stifling patterns in the corporate culture: Visionary and lateral thinking as well as courage!


Where to start? Put the velvet gloves aside. Boxing gloves are required! (see p. 23-24)

It does not help to compensate for systemic discrimination (such as a lack of childcare or unsuitable working time models) with well-intended programs. Disadvantages must be removed on an individual basis. Only then can top performance and fair competition be achieved. The top female managers interviewed agreed that such a performance culture is beneficial!

It is therefore necessary to put aside the velvet gloves, ensure fair conditions and then throw the boxing gloves into the ring. The therfor required investments will not only benefit the women. These women will help companies develop the cultural patterns they need to be successful in the future!

We were also able to give first insights into our study at the Female Future Festival Lake Constance.