Three easy steps to planning compelling programming for your organization's women's initiative.
College is a time where young women are under immense pressures: getting the perfect grades, having the best relationships, finding the perfect blend for extracurricular activities that will enhance their resumes, and of course, having the fun “college experience” everyone always raves about.
This pressure is easily dismissed by those who have transitioned to the so-called “real world”: the time after college when of course we are all have everything together. Except, we don’t. For most of us, the transition from college to life after is full of anxiety. What is a 401K? Will I have to have roommates until I am 35? How will I ever make enough money for the life I want? Will everyone at my new job know right away that I have no clue what I’m doing?
These pressures – the ones we feel in college and immediately after – are exactly why we at Gild are so passionate about working with young women in college. Reaching these women before they enter the workplace and arming them with the tools needed to empower one another in and beyond school is essential to building the next generation of female leaders.
Hosting a Gild Workshop on Campus
Who do we work with?
By and large, the most common groups for us to partner with on campuses are sororities. We love the idea of an organization that already brings women together to support one another and build each other up. However, after working with countless greek organizations on campuses, we also know that at times even the most well-oiled sorority machines need outside help and guidance to build confidence in their membership, or to repair broken relationships and foster mentorship within their sisterhoods.
Outside of sororities, we have worked with any campus organization that has reached out and is passionate about building gender equity!
How does it work?
Sororities and other campus organizations tend to operate on a different clock – a college clock – than most of our workplace clients. Campus events can take place at any time of the week and at any time of day, and are mostly outside of the typical 9 to 5 hour. For that reason, we built an option for campus organizations that is completely flexible: the Self-Facilitated Workshop.
Self-facilitated workshops allow students to gain presentation and leadership skills while engaging their participants, and also allow the organization total control over their experience. Gild Collective prepares all of the curriculum and creative project instruction in a tailored facilitation guide, and makes sure that the leader of the workshop feels 100% confident going in.
What are campus workshops about?
In our work with students, we focus on two main topic areas: Building Confidence and Fostering Mentorship and Relationships. These topics can be applicable in many situations and adapted different groups.
What creative projects can campus organizations do?
The main project choices for campus organizations are the Morse Code Necklace and Colorful Leather Tassel Keychain. Both of these are fully customizable and allow participants to walk away with a personal message that reminds them of the workshop.
How much does it cost?
We know that campus organizations have complex systems for creating and maintaining budgets, as well as requesting money for events like this. We allow all campus organizations a nonprofit discount, and work closely with the event organizers to create an experience that works within their budget.
As we close up the season of back to school and sorority recruitment, we have reflected a lot on the “why” behind our work with these students. For us, it is simple– we want all women to be confident and feel empowered to work toward her personal definition of success. And we know that the best way to do that is to begin before they even enter the workforce.
If you are interested in talking with us or learning more about our campus workshops experiences, please reach out!
Gild Collective uses data and key insights from working with thousands of women to drive strategic organizational change and to provide workplace inclusion trainings to key stakeholders.
As women, we have more power over our personal finances than we think we do. We just need to own that power. We may not be able to change the gender wage gap overnight but if each of us take constructive steps to increase our own power and knowledge around the subject of money, and teach our daughters, nieces, and granddaughters to do the same, the wage gap will be a relic of the past.
We have never shown the real Gild Collective workshop experience here. Admittedly, Kelsey and I are often too busy preparing and facilitating the experiences to pause, reflect, and photograph our surroundings, but this week we tried to do just that.
Each topic comes with it’s own unique objectives, but these benefits of a women’s initiative workshop are consistent. Before you plan your next event, ask yourself: Will it create bonds? Will it work? And will it last?
At Gild, we are notorious for loving to get our hands dirty with a creative project. Although our business has changed and grown a lot over the past few years, we have always had a mission at the heart of what we do that centers around confidence, creativity, and community. And while our central focus has shifted from craft projects to women’s issues (in the form of workshops, strategy, and training), creativity is still at the heart of what we do. We often get questions about why we are so passionate about the benefits of being creative with your women’s initiative participants, so we thought we’d share a few of those benefits here.
Three Reasons to Get Creative with your Women’s Initiative
1. Everyone learns (and engages) differently.
As an educator at heart, I am incredibly passionate about helping our participants learn and engage in the way that is personally successful for them. Once we are out of high school, physical learners (also known as kinesthetic or tactile learners), or those that learn through touch, are largely ignored in training and development settings. These learners end up in all types of fields, and we know from receiving feedback that giving them the chance to interact physically with the topics we facilitate is incredibly impactful on their experiences. Even if you don’t use craft supplies to get creative with your women’s initiative, consider involving something that requires your participants to use their hands and sense of touch.
2. Creativity enhances bonds.
All it takes is a simple Google search to validate the somewhat inherent theory that workplace relationships are a key driver of engagement and retention, especially for millennials. Many leaders of women’s initiatives or other workplace engagement initiatives struggle to increase interactions and build relationships between participants who span different generations. When we facilitate workshops, women from different departments, generations, and who have been at their organizations for varying lengths of time often find themselves sitting at the same table. And while they do engage with one another during guided discussions and group activities, it isn’t until we begin the creative process that we see participants “come out of their shells.” Nervousness, laughter, frustration, and pride are just some of the emotions that participants might experience which working on their creative project – all of which are best when shared.
3. It’s fun!
Effective communication, leadership development, unconscious bias, addressing and elevating gender issues – these are just some of our workshop curriculum topics. While each of the topics that we focus on is important and necessary to the women we serve, they can be challenging. When considering whether or not to get creative with your women’s initiative, think of the personal benefit you have gained when you have paired hard work with serious fun. Even if participants are wary of their creative abilities, the laughter and pride (see #2) that comes from a finished product is always something that brings joy.
When you prioritize being creative with your women’s initiative, you are prioritizing enhanced learning, bonding, and fun. Not just that, but you are also providing the women of your organization an outlet that is far from their daily norms and duties. There are many ways to prioritize being creative with your women’s initiative, craft supplies optional. We are always happy to help plan and execute on creative ideas that serve women within your organization, so do not hesitate to reach out with questions.
We’ve heard just about everything when it comes to the perceptions of women’s initiatives within organizations. We’ve seen organizations where all employees are bought-in—they see the value, and they have both men and women participating in driving equality in the workplace. But, we’ve also seen organizations where there is women’s initiative pushback, or a lack of understanding on what the purpose of the initiative is and the goals it is trying to reach.
Over the past several weeks our wonderful intern Taylor has been highlighting the new additions to our workshop project offerings on Instagram, but we thought it might be time for a formal introduction. Our four new projects were designed with a diverse set of customers in mind, and a diverse set of circumstances. Our goal for these products was straightforward: We wanted to create offerings that were relatively gender neutral, accessible for all levels of ability, and most importantly, usable and practical.
In the survey we offered a few months ago, our users told us that practicality and usability was their key goal in making creative projects, and we listened. Now, I won’t pretend that these are elements that are vital to everyday life- they certainly are not. Like most pretty things, they are nonessential additions that aim to improve your overall mood and the quality of your surroundings. We even have one project that is designed to improve your overall mood and quality of your mental state.
Whether your workspace is clean or cluttered, it’s helpful to have a place for your smallest treasures to rest while you work. I am constantly removing my jewelry throughout the day if it starts to bother me, so I personally love the ability to place it in a hand-made, locally-sourced leather catchall tray that is as functional as it is beautiful.
Japanese bookbinding is an amazingly simple and ancient technique that has been used to craft journals like these for ages. We are so excited to have partnered with Jennifer Pace Duran, the creative genius behind Pace Creative Design Studio for our custom-designed journal patterns. We are offering two patterns in two color schemes each, and what’s even more exciting is that we can brand each option with the logo or phrase to match whatever company, organization, or conference we are working with to create these journals.
Mindfulness Modmala: In Partnership with Wild Sage Collective
As entrepreneurs, Kelsey and I are the first to admit how low on the list of priorities taking time to quiet and center our minds can fall in the daily chaos. We are so grateful to have partnered with Wild Sage Collective out of Columbus, Ohio to bring their Modmala experience to our workshops. With every bead added, participants will tie in an intention that will carry throughout their necklace. Later, these intentions can transform into a mindfulness mantra that will center and calm them as they take a small timeout from their busy days.
Colorful Leather Tassel Keychain
This colorful tassel keychain is our trendiest new friend by far, and we love it for just that reason. Completely customizable with endless combinations of color schemes, these practical and cute accessories are created using leather hand-dyed in the United States. Imagine these created in your organization’s colors, or getting to select our own mix on the day of your workshop. Every time you reach for your keys (AKA every day), you’ll think of the important discussion and learnings from our event.
So, go ahead- head on over to our site and check out these new beauties alongside our old and familiar favorites (which aren’t going anywhere, by the way). While you’re there, see what some of our clients have to say about our workshops (we have some for workplace and for campus). And don’t forget to drop us a line so that we can get you making one of these new projects ASAP!
As always, we partnered with the amazing and talented Abbie Kinnett, the founder and multi-faceted creative genius behind Okota for our photography. Thanks, Abbie!
Image found at the Wall Street Journal
Busy. Overwhelmed. Buried under work. Treading water. Barely surviving.
These are phrases that we hear our friends (and ourselves) use on a regular basis when we discuss our jobs. When we combine the stress we feel at work with our personal responsibilities outside of the office, it can often feel like too much to juggle. More organizations than ever are trying to serve their female employees through women’s initiatives, many of which aim to help tackle the constant state of “overwhelmed” that many women are stuck in. These initiatives have the best intentions, and even call in outside resources to plan amazing programming for their female workforce. However, organizers still tell us that one of their biggest challenges in getting women engaged is convincing them that women’s initiatives are worth their time– time that, as we know, is a precious and limited resource.
In working with leaders of women’s initiatives, we see first hand on a daily basis the passionate work that goes into creating meaningful, engaging experiences for participants. Whether we are facilitating a workshop or the group is gathering for an internal mentorship, professional development, or educational event, there are countless benefits to be reaped from engaging with an organization’s women’s initiative. So why is it so difficult to convince potential participants that women’s initiatives are worth their time? We decided to start talking to women about this question, and the answer was clear:
In order to convince someone that their organization’s women’s initiative is worth their time, you must first convince their leadership.
It may sound like a simple concept, and that’s because it is. Simple, however, does not always translate to easy. Convincing leadership from the top down that women’s initiatives are worth their time, and therefore their employee’s time, requires convincing these leaders of the value of investing in their diverse workforce.
This perception of value can in many ways be directly related to the company’s bottom line, as we see time and time again that companies with more women in leadership outperform their competitors. However, it must extend beyond fiscal gain. Leaders must be personally convinced that it is worthwhile to not only approve of, but encouraging of their employees stepping away from their desks, their clients, their duties to invest valuable hours in their women’s initiative.
The process of convincing organizational leadership from the top down is complicated for many reasons. For starters, it is difficult for any leader to admit that they have not been encouraging or genuinely supportive thus far. For that reason, trust must be built, which takes more time and resources.
Over the next few months, we will continue to discuss the process of creating buy-in from organizational leadership and building the case for why it matters. While it may seem daunting, we will also build a case for why it is worth it, and why creating a sense of buy-in from organizational leadership will only enhance the engagement of your women’s initiative.
Waiting can be tough, we know– if waiting for more information is too difficult to bear, don’t hesitate to reach out.