News story

20-first and Brightwave partner to improve the bottom line on gender balance for global business leaders

Learning NewsBrightwave Group

World-leading gender consultancy, 20-first and e-learning experts Brightwave have developed a new e-learning solution to help leaders and managers world-wide successfully address gender balance and increase competitiveness.

Global consultancy firm 20-first has developed a new e-learning course to help managers understand the 'WHY, WHAT and HOW' of gender balance. Following feedback from their clients, 20-first worked with Brightwave to develop a high-impact online course to communicate key messages and develop skills on gender balance across a broad population of managers. The solution includes a demo portal to allow 20-first's clients to get a taster of the course and build important momentum internally before launching the learning.

The business imperative for gender balance
21st Century organisations are increasingly globalised, flat in structure and demand new ways of working. Against this backdrop is the increasing number of educated, working women who are transforming the shape of talent in the workplace. For example, we know that nearly 60% of global graduates are women - this not only has an impact on the global talent pool, but creates a change in the customer landscape too. Female success in education and the workplace equals greater purchasing power. In other words, a more balanced view of gender is needed to reflect this shift.

While many organisations have addressed their structure to allow for much cultural sensitivity, 20-first have identified a gap in awareness and skills in achieving a balanced approach to gender. While there are equal numbers of male and female graduates entering the workplace, the number of women reaching senior management positions is still small and organisations who fail to nurture this talent pool risk being out-performed by those that do.

Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, CEO, at 20-first describes: "Every company I work with is reworking its leadership competency models to make them more collaborative, flatter and sensitive to cultural issues. But gender is not usually integrated at this stage, and often the masculine framing and wording around ambition remains".

Delivering a global solution
The core objective of the solution co-developed with Brightwave was to achieve better gender balance amongst 20-first's clients' teams through giving managers the information and motivation to make improvements. The end result is 'The bottom line on gender balance' which is designed to help managers recognise the business imperative of gender balance and reflect this in their teams and in how they communicate with customers.

As a practical tool to build the skills managers need in today's complex organisations, the solution needed to be flexible and truly global. With this goal in mind, the course has been developed in multiple language versions and can be customised with companies' statistics, videos, reference materials and logo. The e-learning can be hosted externally or integrated into an organisation's learning management system, delivering flexibility for those clients looking to achieve engagement and deliver improvements in this area.

Charles Gould, Managing Director, at Brightwave said: "The solution we've designed for 20-first is not only an excellent piece of e-learning, but it carries an important message. Gender balance in the workplace is above all a business issue and Brightwave is delighted to support 20-first in raising global awareness and promoting a shift in practice."

Early success
After the successful roll-out of a pilot online programme, 'The bottom line on gender balance' has been launched and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. In addition to the e-learning programme itself, Brightwave has also produced a trailer designed to help 20-first promote the course to their clients.

Avivah Wittenberg-Cox said: "Our clients are telling us that innovative and engaging e-learning solutions like this are a highly effective way to align managers around the world - and in every possible language - around the business case for gender balance. It's global, cost-effective, and popular. And, it reframes the gender debate as a compelling business opportunity". 

The trailer is available at:
More information is available from:


Note to editors

About 20-first
20-first works with organisations that seek to move from 20th century mindsets, management styles and marketing approaches into more progressive 21st century forms – and to stay first at the game. Thus our name. It underlies our purpose, and those of the clients we serve.

20-first works with progressive global companies around the world interested in responding to both halves of the market and optimising both halves of the talent pool – the male and female halves.

Avivah Wittenberg-Cox and a network of international experts work with CEOs, executive committees and managers to build 21st century gender ‘bilingual’ organisations.

The firm’s consulting services help companies achieve systemic, sustainable and positive change. 20-first  works with companies to successfully define and plan their gender balance initiatives, including analysing the current situation, building the business case, building awareness among leadership teams, reviewing attraction, retention and development policies, and providing pragmatic advice to start smart and deliver results. In addition, 20-first has developed a number of cutting-edge online services, including this flagship e-learning course. The firm’s Train-the-Trainer programme can also transfer its proven methodology and knowledge into companies, to allow internal teams to roll-out training courses to a broad population of managers.