Bianca GarcezDirector of Quality
Chief of Staff, Strategic Projects Lead & programme Manager
ESADE Business School

worked in big Consulting/Financial Services, heavily male-dominated environments. Both companies had their policies perfectly well written, HR and channels for complaints, D&I mandatory training, and constantly figuring out ‘best places to work’ lists, but the reality was very different from the formal layout.


Topic: Policy vs reality

Abstract:  how companies with perfectly well-designed policies and training still fall for common D&I pitfalls and may actually have extremely non-inclusive environments.

Speak from my experience: Mismatch between expectations placed on men/women, and pressure for women to adopt a more male leadership style in a context with few to no female role models.

Personal experience in year-end assessment meetings were standards applied to men and women were completely different (evaluation based on “potential” vs evaluation based on work delivered).

The change a few more women with power in the room make: comparison of more inclusive models in a female led team at EY vs other teams (events breaking the mould of “business drinks” always catering to include all personal life circumstances, like new moms still breastfeeding and Muslim colleagues who do not drink).

My own journey towards finding my leadership style with very few role models to be inspired on and switching from accepting those standards to establishing my own ones.

Why practice can be so different from the rules. Distil the differences between what’s on the paper (i.e. company regulations, D&I and Ethics policies etc) vs how work relationships are managed and influence promotions, rankings, perception.

Human element – the power of culture: what policies do not consider and metrics do not measure.

Influences that we bring to work that we do not even think about but affect our work relationships and how much opportunity we share with others not so alike us.

The hardships of inclusion: it is hard, and uncomfortable (at least in the beginning, until we all adjust to it). Why most of us are stuck on policies and rules.

How can we change for real?

  • More women in leadership roles – but we need to take action even before that happens, especially in industries where we do not have so many senior female candidates.
  • An inclusive culture is key.
  • Understanding female leadership and offering support not to turn us into a male version, but to fully develop ourselves as female leaders.
  • Create opportunities for growth.
  • Assess with objectivity. And compare back how you’re assessing different genders for fairness.
  • Offer flexibility.
  • Assume less. Ask more. [Case when we get opportunities dismissed assuming it would be too difficult for us to manage]. We are all different and our behaviour towards our careers cannot be the same.