Cultivating Women Leaders: An Interview with CEO Kate Duchene

March 23, 2021
3 Minute Read

RGP CEO Kate Duchene was recently named to Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) 2021 North America Power 100 List. In an interview with taskforce, an RGP company based in Germany, Kate reflects on the career journey that led to these honors—and the journey that’s still ahead.

What do these awards from SIA mean to you?

I think about the award more in the context of RGP as an enterprise than me individually. Succeeding in a people business is a team sport, and I appreciate the power of the team at RGP. I also love seeing us recognized by the industry. We must break the moniker of “best kept secret.” I am trying to do just that by writing and speaking more about industry and market trends and how RGP is innovating to capitalize on those trends.

What has your career been like? What helped you?

I think of my career in three stages: learn, earn, return. During the first stage, as a new lawyer working for a large, international firm, my career was focused on learning substantively about employment law and its application on people and society. That period also taught me a lot about client service, judgment and professionalism.

The second stage of my career, when I joined RGP, was all about earning new muscle in an entrepreneurial and team-oriented environment. I was like a kid in a candy store. There was so much to build and great people around me to learn from. I was also raising young children at the time so loving what I was doing made all the difference in the face of long days and multi-faceted stressors.

I am now in the third stage of my career, focused on strategy, leadership and development of others. It is now more about others than me. My best advice for any stage of career is two-fold: make sure you are still learning and make sure you are surrounded by excellent humans!

What hurdles have you had to overcome? Which steps have you taken that led to your position today?

The question about hurdles and positioning is an interesting one, and my response focuses on the importance of mindset. If you bring a growth mindset to your work, the word “hurdle” evolves to opportunity. You remain in a learning mode and you build upon that learning and experience to develop a very rich pathway to success.

Why do you think women are important in leadership positions?

I believe diversity is important in leadership positions. I don’t think women are more important than men, but I do think balance is critical. Experiences are different, styles are different, and that difference leads to better problem-solving because you see issues from many angles.

What is necessary from your point of view to increase the share of well-qualified female executives?

We have got to stop thinking that there is room at the “Big Table” for only one or two women. Because of that point of view, women do not support one another enough. Men rely on their networks for advancement daily. I also believe we must be very purposeful in our development of high potentials and eliminate assumptions about contribution levels and professional engagement. I also think it helps to start from the top. At RGP, more than 30% of our Board of Directors is female.

Do you have an example of how RGP is promoting diversity at all levels and locations? For example, mentoring programs?

Diversity, equity and inclusion are critical underpinnings of our shared values. Promoting diversity at RGP is almost a self-governed initiative because we have so many women in leadership positions. We have many role models. Therefore, our promotion of diversity is authentic and dynamic versus special-program oriented. As a human-first company, we recognize diversity as a strength that is cultivated through our culture, our people, our business and our clients.

What differences do you see in relation to the number of women leaders in the US compared to Europe or especially Germany?

The US and UK are further ahead of Germany with respect to overall representation of women in corporations. Germany, however, has leaped ahead of the US and UK in terms of female representation on boards because of the introduction of hard goals in 2015. I believe in focus and goal setting. When the issue of diversity is on the executive agenda, results follow.

Research is uncovering now, however, that women in all regions are losing ground. The research shows that COVID-19 impact is having a disproportionately negative impact on women in the workforce for a multitude of reasons. We will all have to be creative and bold to address the regression. We need to employ strategies to stem the exodus and return these workers to the corporate environment productively and fast when COVID recovery advances.

Meet The Team

Kate's Portrait

Kate Duchene

Chief Executive Officer

Willkommen bei RGP.

Als globales Beratungsunternehmen betreuen wir Kunden auf der ganzen Welt. Dementsprechend ist unsere Website in englischer Sprache verfasst. Sie können uns jederzeit auch auf Deutsch kontaktieren, indem Sie sich an unsere Standorte in Hamburg und Zürich wenden. Besuchen Sie gerne auch unsere LinkedIn-Seite von RGP Deutschland.

Scroll To Top