#28 Simona, Why do you Challenge the Notion of Availability equaling Results?

With Simona Scarpaleggia, Board Member at EDGE Strategy

In the last episode of the season, I talk with Simona Scarpaleggia, an international business leader, author, board member and former global CEO.

It was under her leadership that IKEA Switzerland has achieved worldwide recognition for reaching gender equality, both overall and in management. In just 9 years, the company has increased the proportion of women in management positions from approximately 4% to 50%.

In this conversation with Simona, we delve into the topic of how to create sustainable change in the workplace, why she thinks part-time shouldn’t be a career killer, and whether the DEI policies she advocates for are harder to implement in smaller companies.

This episode is gold for both high-level insight and incredibly practical advice. Simona highlights specific areas of action, common setbacks you’re likely to encounter on your DEI journey, and how you as a leader can become a role model for your team.


If you have trust, and you are focused on the end result, you really don’t mind if they work in the morning, in the afternoon, on Sundays, don’t work for two or three days in a row because at the end you have a deadline, and you have a quality to deliver. If they do, it’s fantastic. If they don’t, it’s not a matter of hours.


 What you will learn

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion policies are key to creating change, but it won’t last if the policies only rely on certain individuals to make them work. They need to have systems built around them that are independent of leadership.
  • A workplace with general equity not only gives you a better reputation as an employer, it can also be a competitive advantage because you become a representation of the diversity in the market, meaning you can understand and serve your clients better.
  • The winners of tomorrow will be those who can effectively utilize the potential of a hybrid work environment. This requires challenging deep-rooted assumptions about the role of leadership and what you think of as the key traits of a great employee.


  • Use role models and success stories to show your employees they won’t get penalized for taking advantage of policies like paternity leave and part-time work.

  • Don’t use the same leadership style with all of your employees. Learn to distinguish between situations where clear direction is needed versus ones where your role is to inspire, then just let your team do their job.

  • When considering someone for a promotion, focus on the results of the person and what they bring to the table rather than their availability to be physically present all the time.

Find Simona online

LinkedIn: Simona Scarpaleggia


As of January 2022, Simona serves as NED- Non -executive Director in the Boards of Autogrill, Hornbach Holding and Hornbach Baumarkt, EDGE Strategy, Brainforest. Former CEO of EDGE Strategy, a company leader in measuring, accelerating and certifying gender and intersectional equity in the workplace. An international manager with a consolidated experience in both line and top management positions, she has served as CEO of IKEA Switzerland over a decade – previously she held HR Director positions in different organizations. Co-Chair of the High-Level Panel for Women Economic Empowerment of the United Nations from 2016 to 2018. Engaged since decades on topics related to gender equity and DE&I , she has co-founded and has been the president of Valore D in Italy and Advance Women in business in Switzerland. Since 2010 she works and advocates on ESG related topics and has a consolidated knowledge and experience in the field of environmental, social and governance related themes. She is the author of the book “Die andere Hälfte” NZZ Libro (“The Other Half” ed. LID)

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