According to Diversity, Inc., top companies for women all have three things in common—cross-cultural mentoring programs, flexible workplaces with individualized plans, and an active women’s initiative.
But, what is a women’s initiative, when do you need one, and how do you make it as impactful as possible? We’ll break down each of these questions over a series of posts, but today we’ll start small:
What is a women’s initiative?
A women’s initiative can go by many names—a women’s group, a women’s network, a women’s employee resource group, affinity group, or a company-branded network name. While different names may mean slight variations in structure, they all have the goal of bringing together individuals (yes! both women and men) in an organization.
The group may focus on:
- Networking: Connecting women across levels, departments, and roles can be a critical step towards creating a strong mentorship culture within an organization—whether it is formal or informal. We suggest thinking beyond the happy hour, and giving a sense of purpose to the event with guided conversation topics.
- Professional Development: Different companies may require different types of ongoing education, but women’s initiatives can hone in on the type of professional development that helps everyone to succeed. Think: confidence building, or finding ways to overcome gender bias in the workplace.
- Philanthropic Causes: The group that gives back together, stays together! Through a structured philanthropic activity or fundraising, individuals can bond together by dedicating time to a charity organization aligned to the group or greater company goals.
- Business Challenges: Mixing up teams and group dynamics can create new lines of thinking and new solutions to common business problems.
- Driving Policy Change: One of the most powerful outcomes of a women’s initiative is the ability to drive policy change within the organization—flexible work schedules, robust maternity and paternity policies, transparent hiring practices—it’s all on the table.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of “what is a women’s initiative,” we suggest that you ask around at your organization about yours. If it doesn’t exist yet, perhaps it is time to start one. In a future post, we’ll be covering how to determine when you need a women’s initiative.
At Gild Collective, we work with women’s initiative leaders who know that small moments of gender bias, even unconscious, have a large impact on the women in their companies. Reach out today to see how we can help!