Best Practices from Corporate Women’s Initiative Consortium.

Hi Everyone:

For the past two years I have been attending the quarterly CWIC meetings.  (Corporate Women’s Initiative Consortium) A networking group of representatives from women in tech groups from various companies including Yahoo! Google, Intel, SalesForce, IBM, Oracle, eBay and many more.

I had the pleasure of witnessing the launch of many women networking groups and watching them progress, as well as learning from the more established groups such as Intel and Google. Normally, CWIC meets once a quarter, and one company shares their story, (this could be how they just launched their club, or what they plan do for the year, or share a story on how they measured their success and presented results to Executive team, etc).

Per Inga and Caroline Kohout’s suggestion, I have summarized my learning’s below. This outline represents the most common factors each group attributed to their success so far.  It looks like BWN has incorporated many of the best practices, but as always, there are a few points we could improve upon and learn from our peers in Silicon Valley.

A Solid Business Case

Making a convincing business case for the women’s network is critical for receiving the infrastructural support that makes the network effective.  Most successful groups begun by looking at the company’s overall objectives that often included organizational success and employee success, and presented research that showcased how the company would be better served by taking advantage of women employee’s fully realized potentials and developed skills. They showcased how those skills are nourished through the support, consulting, and training that a woman-networking group offers.

A Clear Mission Statement

Firm Infrastructure

1. Agreement on the frequency of the meetings

2. Definition of roles and establishing the ideal time for each term (Most clubs have one year limit for each role, but some also offer six month periods).

3. Fair and inclusive nomination process

4. .Transparency on eligibility and responsibilities tied to each role

Officer titles that are most commonly used:

  • Club Chair/Co-Chair
  • Global Inclusion and Diversity Officer
  • External Relations Officer
  • Internal Relations Officer
  • Member Engagement Officer
  • Member Recruitment Officer
  • PR and Social Media Officer
  • Marketing Officer

CEO and/or a Male Executive Sponsor

Many clubs have shared that male participation has contributed to their effectiveness, most importantly when it comes in the form of active sponsorship or championship.

  • Partnership with HR and Diversity Teams

A few companies including Brocade shared how they work closely with HR to follow the career roadmap of network members, and compare them to non-members. Not surprisingly, they discovered a positive trend in accelerated career growth for the active members who had participated in the networking and training sessions.  They were able to quantify this research and as a result obtain additional budget for advancing their programs.

  • Specific goals & Clear Measures for Success

Many clubs work with HR to tie specific goals to each initiative and look for patterns and proofs of concept. For instance, in launching a new mentorship program, they document the career path of the participants and look for patterns of success, they also interview the menthes periodically and survey whether they are truly benefiting from the program or not.

  • Safe and confidential environment for sharing

Many groups endorse a ‘confidentiality agreement’ for certain meetings in order to encourage women to voice their concerns in an open and constructive manner.  We also held such a meeting during which one of the company representatives shared how a female Sr. Executive who had been ‘fired’ came back to the meeting and shared her version of the story, (which the women found extremely helpful and actually encouraging).

Some of the Most Successful and Popular Initiatives that were showcased during the meetings:

Yahoo! Agile Conflict Management Workshop: The Human Hack: Reinventing How We Work

A new approach to people and conflict management facilitated by Geraldine (Dene) Rogers

Google’s Women in Tech Conference and Travel Grants

As part of Google’s commitment to encourage women to excel in computing and technology, Google offered Women in Tech Conference and Travel Grants for their female computer scientists that included:

  • Free registration for conferences
  • Up to 1000 towards travel and accommodation costs

eBay’s Global Women Leader’s Conference

In 2011, eBay held the Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) summit in San Francisco; the event brought together for the first time the top women leaders from eBay Inc. – nearly 200 people worldwide. The group participated in workshops and panel discussions. They identified actions that they and the company can begin taking to build greater career opportunities for women and enable eBay to build a more diverse global leadership team. The results were phenomenal and the women at eBay feel the company has taken a great positive shift since.

Cisco’s Women Health Workshop in July 2013: (The link between Fitness and Career Success)

Discussion Topics included Health Issues Women Face, Tips to Eat for Energy and Stress Management

SAP’s Panel on Fashion and it’s impact on Career Growth in June 2013

Thanks Inga and Caroline for encouraging me to post this.