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Case Studies Leadership Programme

“Leadership au Féminin” by Décathlon

By 6 October 2020December 21st, 2020No Comments

The “Leadership au féminin” initiative by Décathlon is a Women’s Leadership Training to accompany women in the construction of a personal and professional life path.

In practice it consists in a 3 days leadership training for women with dedicated career path and is organised as one day per month for three months.

This programme has been developed in 2013. The aim is to facilitate a patways for women into leadership position while helping them reflect on their professional and personal projects, their ambitions and their motivations, but also to reassure them that it is possible to have a career at Décathlon while having a fulfilling personal and family life.

Around 200 women participate to it every year. There is a strong sense of Alumni community for the participants who remain connected afterwards.

Brief outline of the initiative

The Leadership au Féminin training is offered to “potentials”, i.e. women with at least 2 years of experience in a department manager position who are likely to evolve.
The first part is devoted to understanding the cultural issues of professional equality, the personal and professional life priorities of each employee, a 360° assessment and a personality test. The second part focuses on the creation of their professional project.

In particular the main topics are:

  • Women’s place in society and women’s place in Decathlon
  • Better self-awareness (personality test/360°, values, desires)
  • Relationship to power, ambition, money.
  • Self-marketing for a better promotion of oneself and one’s skills and qualities
  • Awareness of sexism and harassment

The Leadership programme can be accompanied by a one-year mentorship for those who wish to do so and according to their career plans (10 mentorships per year). Mentoring can be mixed or between women, depending on their wishes, projects and passions-sport.


3 days


Once a year


Internal funding



Key elements


Women only

Country of origin


Country/Region of implementation


Number of participants

200 Women/year

Core objective of the Programme

☒ Women empowerment (identifying barriers and working on strengths, creating a community)
☒ Supporting organizational change (strategy for developing diversity, implementation of specific policies, support to change makers)
☐ Allies buy-in and support (mentors, men championing)
☐ External Scrutiny (Pledge board, Indicators, celebration of success…)
☐ Other => Please specify:

Actions implemented

☐ Internal Diversity & Inclusion Strategy for a safe workplace with equal rights (please specify)
☐ Commitment of men - please specify:
☒ Personal development training - please specify:
☒ Role model highlighted
☒ Networking (women network, men network or mixed) - please specify:
☒ Mentoring (unique or mixed gender, please specify) (experienced & wise guide)
☐ Coaching (ability to inspire and grow people/Foster emulation/ Being influential)
☐ Events (sharing with other companies) - please specify:
☐ Other, please specify:


☐ Online e-learning Module
☐ Online seminar
☒ Workshops
☒ Conference
☐ Self-Assessment tool
☐ Consolidated educational/training programme
☐ Other, please specify:

Identified Key Success Factors

- Supported by the Director General
- Building on word of mouths and role model
- The informal community

Transferable bites/elements

- The network
- The follow-up from the Head of Programme with the participant and his/her managger after the training


I wanted to move the lneedle forward in terms of gender equality. Luckily, the Decathlon's DG France gave me carte blanche to move things forward. Thanks to the Women's Leadership programme, an informal network of women has been created with much sharing of experiences and solidarity.

Marie PinelHead of Human Resources

The training teaches us to know what we want, what is for us and what is not. But also to know how to present yourself in front of a director, how to lead a meeting where there are only men, etc.

By participant

Talking about her, about her successes, is very hard for a woman, whereas it is much more natural for a man. Thanks to the training, I learned that you have to show the 95% of what you have achieved and not the remaining 5%.

By participant

The training enabled me to be able to express what I wanted to say, to say "I". It boosted my self-confidence. I highly recommend it!

By participant

Organisation’s strategy to adress Women Empowerment

Our actions relies on:

  • Digital network for men and women to exchange on company issues
  • Innovative management with lots of collaboration and missions to realize (possibility to create and being an intrapreneur)
  • Strong D&I Policy

=>Zero tolerance for deviant behaviours (sexism, harassment) from the CEO of the company and embedded into the whole company strategy (Training for men/Women to educate on this topic)

=>Parental leave favoured by the Top management)


We are aware of a real glass ceiling in the company for top management roles (8% women are Regional Director, 40% women in governing bodies, 12% women among process leaders and 7% women among countries directors).

This glass ceiling is due to:

  • stereotypes/bias (ongoing changes through managerial innovation)

-stereotypes to recruit women (masculine culture)

-stereotypes in sports industry linkage (salary gap included)

-masculine team management (oriented performance and results)

  • Life Balance

– Hard for women

  • Work environment
  • Self-censorship of women

-lack of confidence

-lack of models


Several action plans to move forward and empower women (in addition to the leadership programme quoted above): In partnership with social partners.

  • Prevention campaign against sexism in companies. Developed game system (with red and yellow cards distributed to raise awareness against sexism. Give a framework to the game with rules. Both fun on the spirit of sport and educational for more respect in business.
  • Better balance (personal/ professional life). Collaborative planning to involve all.
  • Messages shared with leaders (RTT validation, etc.)

+ Other trainings :

    • Boost Elle (1 day). Available for all women who want to work on their posture, take new roles. Trainings on self-confidence, wills, etc.
    • Sexism and harassment (for all)
    • Succeed in work/life balance (for all)

Source of information: Interview + Online documentation

An initiative selected as a case study of the SWinG library of leadership development initiatives.  

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