Women’s networks are networking groups set up by organizations with the aim of connecting like-minded women within a company. Despite the history of controversy around women’s networks in the past, B2BMarketing.net claims that these internal groups can be beneficial to everyone, propelling awareness, improving the working environment, and boosting employee confidence.
Why should organizations build women’s networks?
Mainly, organizations that build women’s networks will find that by bringing these women together allows each individual to gain confidence and inspiration. In turn, the individual feels that they bring more value to the company and, as long as that value is recognised, the organization will see an improvement in female employee retention rates.
To find out how else you might improve female retention rates click here.
Also, to provide a women’s network shows how the company is concerned with the major topic of gender issues, which can then be seen as a step towards creating an inclusive work environment. As we know, creating an inclusive workplace can improve employee morale, increase company profits, and create an environment of innovation. This highlights how women’s networks can improve the general running of an organization.
To learn why inclusiveness can benefit an organization click here.
How to start a women’s network in your business
Here we’ve provided a few tips on how to get your women’s network started and how to keep it going.
Do the Research
It’s important to do the right research before setting up your women’s network, not only to convince management of the need for a group like this but also to ensure that it will have the desired impact on your workforce. According to Monster.com, it’s important to understand: ‘best practices of other companies’ women’s groups, why the group is necessary and what it will do, how employees will balance work with group participation, budget requirements, and how much value it will add to the company.’
Tailor Your Network for Your Business
Don’t forget that what might work in a women’s network of another business might not necessarily align with your organization’s goals and targets. Therefore you should tailor the functioning and purpose of the network to your company’s mission. These business goals could include sales targets, diversity goals, and company growth goals. An internal group such as a women’s network can help to support these business aims if properly tailored.
However, be careful to not set too many goals. In the past women’s groups have started with high expectations but not always achieved them in their first year. To avoid disappointment set a few clear and realistic goals.
Choose Your Team Carefully
It’s imperative that you find top leadership to participate (male or female), as they can provide structure and credibility to the group. By getting female leaders involved you will provide further inspiration for female employees, as proof that women are able to cope with leadership roles within large organizations.
It’s just as important that the leaders involved are talented and passionate. In doing so, you will see a growth in the women’s network because the drive of the leaders gave the organization worth and credibility to female employees.
Keep It Going
Remember, it’s not just a group you set up and leave to run on its own. Women’s networks need to regularly update their goals, offer new opportunities, and maybe even a newsletter for female employees can see the value of such a network. By making the achievements of the network visible, its more likely that employees and, more importantly, senior management can see the business rewards of having a women’s network.
“Flourishing groups continuously offer educational opportunities as a way to beef up resumes, as well as mentorship programs and calls to action. Many of these women’s initiatives support HR efforts for flexible work schedules, child care, and family leave for both genders. Companies are finding they can use these women’s initiatives as a recruiting tool, because young people interviewing for jobs expect these kinds of activities.”Monster.com
Listen and Adapt
To build on the previous point, to bring value to your women’s network members it’s important to listen and adapt to changes they want to make. This will improve the success of the network and as a result female employees will feel more driven to succeed. Make sure to provide opportunities for them to give feedback about the network and how it runs, to let them know that they are being listened to, then act on it.
Let’s not forget that men also need to be included in the conversation. If they feel excluded a women’s network can appear to be working against male employees, creating a gender issue within the workplace, rather than avoiding one. To avoid this from happening, include male senior managers in the group, invite male employees to have a part in the conversation, share the group’s newsletter with them, ask for their feedback… ect. There’s a lot more that can be achieved with women’s networks when both men and women are involved in the conversation.