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Before Convincing Employees that Women’s Initiatives are Worth Their Time, Convince Their Leaders

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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