Mattress Firm’s LeadHERship Program Helps Support Women in the Industry

Mattress Firm is making strides to ensure that women are better represented among leadership in the mattress industry. It only makes sense, considering the average mattress buyer is a 51-year-old female. Abby Ludens, Mattress Firm’s Vice President of Talent Management, led the charge—pinpointing a need for the nation’s leading specialty mattress retailer to identify and support high-caliber female employees with training and other resources to elevate them into leadership roles.

With the support of senior leadership and input from women across the organization, Mattress Firm’s LeadHERship Program launched in January 2015. The new program is one of many initiatives the company has put in place to promote, engage and foster diversity within the organization.

“We needed to acknowledge that there are in fact differences between men and women, both on the consumer side—how we make decisions—and on the employee side—how we lead and manage people,” Ludens said. “By creating the LeadHERship program, we’re seizing the opportunity to close the gap between the number of male and female leaders in our organization and the mattress industry overall.”

Official planning for the LeadHERship Program began in October, as Ludens saw an opportunity for the company to formally organize a space for women to get together and share best practices. Once a Board of Directors was established, the group expanded to include area managers and other women in leadership roles. The initial response was so positive that members, in turn, invited more and more employees to join. Today, all Mattress Firm employees can opt-in to the group.

“It was extremely important to have the executive support,” Ludens explained. “They really see the value in this sort of program. We’re pleased to be able to engage with and impact this group on these issues.”

Organized around regularly scheduled virtual communication, the LeadHERship Program identifies ways to teach company leaders various management techniques, emphasizing how to lead different groups of people. Through the program, participants can take advantage of leadership training webinars with guest speakers focused on communicating with women and leading as a woman. Members also receive a bi-weekly newsletter highlighting best practices and workplace-related articles. The initiative is not only intended for women, either; it educates men and women on leadership development and management techniques.

Looking forward, Ludens hopes to expand the program even further. While virtual meetings are the main focus right now, there are plans on the horizon to create more opportunities for face-to-face interaction—giving employees the opportunity to connect on a regional and national level. Ultimately, the goal is to find the best ways to educate and propel women within the workplace, offer opportunities to teach others and open the door to beneficial conversations.

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