InspireHER Tandem Program 02

Partners in Strength: The InspireHer Tandem Programme at imc

Personal growth, networking and fun: Women’s empowerment through one-on-one meetings

Traditionally, a tandem is a “bicycle built for two”: a way of powering through the countryside, having a laugh together and generally getting there quicker for half the effort. It all sounds rather charming and romantic. But what does it have to do with the “InspireHer” tandem programme at imc? To answer that question, I talked to the crew in charge of the programme, plus a few people who have taken part in it.

It turns out that InspireHer is to personal growth as tandem cycling is to going places: it’s better when two people share the load. The tandem programme is about women at imc meeting in twos to share experiences and drive personal growth through mutual feedback. “For female employees, especially those who work mainly from home, it’s a great way to get to know other colleagues and build networks,” explains Anna Lemor, a member of the InspireHer organising team. Carlotta, a former participant, was also particularly impressed by the networking opportunities offered by the programme: "The programme made me realise how helpful it is to share ideas with others about career issues."

Good to know

Only 25% of women actively engage in networking. That’s despite the fact that 70% of people who network do so because they believe it’s important for their career. Some 25% of men network in order to get to know people who make hiring decisions. For women, the figure is only 15%.


(Study of networking (in Germany) by the office supplies company Viking)

It’s a match: How the tandem programme works

Once a year, female colleagues at imc meet in pairs over an eight-week period timed to overlap with International Women's Day. The program is open to all female staff members, from interns to senior execs. To participate, all they need to do is register. The InspireHer project crew then assigns each participant a tandem buddy – someone from a different department or culture. Anna explains: “There’s little benefit in being tandem partnered with someone from the same department. The whole point is to experience completely new perspectives and ways of thinking.” The crew does, however, try to match people with similar levels of experience, as the programme is about dialogue and sharing between peers. That’s what makes it different from, say, a mentoring programme.

Good to know

Tandem learning is a method in which two learners work through a task together and support each other in their learning process. Language tandems are among the best-known forms of tandem learning programmes.

How much time the tandem partners invest in their dialogue and sharing is completely up to them, although the InspireHer crew recommend about an hour per week. Each tandem pair can likewise choose what they want to talk about. It’s entirely dependent on their personal goals and interests. Doreen, a former project participant, has fond memories of the weekly sessions: "How to deal with negative feedback, how to organise myself better, how to behave in certain situations? It helped to discuss how my partner sees it and how she she deals with it. And you realise that other colleagues in other departments have similar problems."

Project leader Anna and her former participants Carlotta, Doreen and co-founder of the programme Kerstin

If the conversation isn’t flowing freely, the pair can always get help from the project crew in the form of an InspireHer toolbox – a topic guide complete with handy tips and exercises. The guide covers all the important career topics, like networking, time management and personal branding.

One new feature of this year’s programme is the “expert sessions”. Anna Lemor explains: “The feedback from previous years shows that some participants would like a little more mentoring at certain points.” Hence, this year, participants can book special sessions with senior executives or even members of the Executive Board. And at the end of the tandem period, all the tandem buddies will meet up one last time to reflect on what they’ve learned and experienced.

From grassroots movement to success story

The tandem programme is organised and run by an utterly dedicated three-person project crew: female imc employees who are passionate about women’s empowerment. And like all programmes and measures around diversity and inclusion at imc, InspireHer is an entirely employee-driven initiative. Anna, for example, works on the project team “first and foremost out of a desire to improve the opportunities available to women in IT”.

Importantly for a grassroots movement, InspireHer has the support of the Executive Board, which expressly advocates for it and provides targeted support. For example, employees wanting to take part in the programme have to be given time off their regular duties, and they don’t need to get authorisation from their bosses. “It’s wonderful to see what a grassroots movement can lead to,” says Executive Board member Sven R. Becker. “This is a bottom-up initiative, something our staff created entirely on their own, so I have absolutely no doubt they will achieve their goal of integrating diversity and inclusion into our corporate culture.”

The InspireHer tandem programme has been operating for three years. And this year, the crew is delighted to report record registration numbers, with no fewer than 28 women signing up for a personal tandem journey. Anna: “There are even some employees who take part every year. For me, that is a huge win. That, and the fact that participant numbers are increasing every year.”

InspireHER Infographic

Infographic InspireHER Tandem Programme


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I've been part of the Marketing & Communication team at imc since 2014. My hear beats for creative campaigns, exiting content and digital innovations. My goal is to make digitization tangible - understandable and simple to the point. My passion besides my job are good books and sports. I'm always happy to receive feedback at [email protected].
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Vanessa Klaes
Senior Event and Communication Manager