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Making Good Connections Best Practice for Women’s Organisational Networks Professor Susan Vinnicombe, OBE.

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Presentation on theme: "Making Good Connections Best Practice for Women’s Organisational Networks Professor Susan Vinnicombe, OBE."— Presentation transcript:

1 Making Good Connections Best Practice for Women’s Organisational Networks Professor Susan Vinnicombe, OBE

2 Workplace relationships provide two types of benefits: − Career help − Emotional support Kram, 1988 Page 2

3 Gender and Networks “Women tend to be less integrated than men into their immediate colleague groups and women tend to be less likely to find that professional activity and rank translate into central network positions and advancement.” Ibarra, 1992 Page 3

4 ─ Men and women live in different relational environments in academia ─ Academic institutions continue to reward women significantly less for professional achievements than men. Page 4

5 ─ The likelihood of females telling stories that incorporated a harm plot was four times higher than for men ─ The likelihood of men telling stories that incorporated a career help plot was three times higher than for women. Gersick, Bartunek and Dutton, 2000 Page 5

6 Benchmarking Best Practice for Women’s Networks PROJECT SPONSORED BY: –BT –Deutsche Bank –GE –Goldman Sachs –PWC –Shell REPORT SPONSORED BY OPPORTUNITY NOW ALSO CONTRIBUTING –Barclays –Citigroup –Ford –IBM –Lloyds TSB –UBS Page 6

7 Methodology Identified 12 companies with good reputations for running women’s corporate networks Semi-structured interviews with network chairs and/or organisers Survey of 100 members each from IBM, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, BT. 160 replies (40%), still more coming in. Page 7

8 Research literature on networking Definitions of Networking: –The banding together of like-minded people for the purposes of contact, friendship and support. –Women’s networking is women’s attempts to create for themselves the support generated for men by their informal same-sex grouping. Page 8

9 Why we need women’s networks Women and men have different networks. Male networks are established, informal, powerful. Women face barriers to joining existing networks. People tend to network with same sex. Fewer women at senior levels, so fewer opportunities for same-sex networking. Women tend to have fewer resources to offer network Formal networks help counter disadvantage. Page 9

10 How did the women’s networks start? (1) 7 STARTED BY WOMEN BT, started 1986 by women on Cranfield course LLOYDS-TSB, 1998, initiative of one woman CITIGROUP, 2000 European conference, two women UBS, 2000, by group of women IBM, 2001 European conference, by group of women SHELL, 2001, from informal meetings of ten women BARCLAYS, 2002, by group of women after work/life balance initiative Page 10

11 How did the networks start? (2) 2 STARTED BY CEO/CHAIRMEN/PRESIDENT * GE, 1997, President invites senior women to make action plans to address glass ceiling * DEUTSCHE BANK, 2001, Chairman suggests conference for women, after US & German conference 3 STARTED BY COMPANY AND WOMEN FORD, 1999, identify business need, as women ask for network PWC, 2000, as result of focus groups for women GOLDMAN SACHS, 2001, company identifies business need, as women ask for network Page 11

12 Identity of the Networks NAMING –Barclaycard changed from the Women’s Career Network to the Barclaycard Network, when men were invited to join –IBM – staying with Women in Blue –UBS – creative, All Bar None –Saatchi & Saatchi executive suggests Better Business through Women, to emphasise core business focus BUSINESS FOCUS –All the network leaders constantly stressed the business case VOLUNTARY NATURE –So much done in personal time, in margins of busy lives –Tension: Pressure for more company activities, demands for business performance measurement, little recognition Page 12

13 Managing the Networks At start-up, tight group, pulling together on same agenda, loads of drive and energy Strategy (constitutions, missions, membership, statements of purpose, funding) Fit within company (especially HR) Leadership – the right person/or two Committees – roles, responsibilities, agendas Meetings – sometimes too many, cut back Health Checks – burnout, new needs, skills Page 13

14 Membership decisions ALL WOMEN –Demands more resources, but will not be seen as elitist –Reaches out to any women who need support at any time –Is membership formal/automatic/presumed/opt in or out? EXECUTIVE / SENIOR WOMEN ONLY –Elitist, but often run alongside the general network (one invites support staff network member to sit on senior women’s network) –Allows for tailoring to senior women’s needs –Have to decide how “executive” or “senior” are defined WOMEN AND MEN –Members liked the fact that their network was open to men –Supports networking between sexes Page 14

15 Communication with Members Websites for members –Information on sources of help –Events (past, present, future) –Access to corporate policies –Access to training materials, career support literature & videos –Info on mentoring and role models Direct Email services to chair/organiser Newsletters (printed and on-line) Posters of events, Calendar Annual report of Network CDs for new entrants Page 15

16 Resourcing Women’s Networks FUNDING –Five networks funded from central diversity, four from HR, three from business area champions –Most have to bid for funds, make business case –Only partial support, often shared across internal networks –Leaders proactive in seeking support from corporate sources –Cannot compare budgets, it depends on size of network, number, frequency & type of activities, whether office support has to come out of budget. Some budgets squeezed. ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT –Sometimes a shared administrator, funded by leader’s department, sometimes volunteered & unpaid. Big burden. SPONSORS –Often regional champions where leader is based. But sponsors change jobs, leaders also move – impetus lost Page 16

17 Network Activities for the Company PR – good for reputation Deutsche Bank – Huge conference to create community HR & DIVERSITY ALL: good for recruitment, talent mgt, WLB, training, mentoring, coaching, jobshare register IBM & PWC – mention network when bidding for public sector contracts, evidence of good diversity management MARKETING, & NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT Goldman Sachs – Ascend Conference for Female Clients only Ford – yellow dipsticks, car door accessibility, understand their female customers ENHANCING WOMEN’S UNDERSTANDING OF CORE BUSINESS, NEW TECHNOLOGY LEVERAGING BEST PRACTICE ACROSS NETWORKS Page 17

18 Career Development Activities CONFERENCES –Often first event, important to get CEO or Chairman to speak –Expensive, need to be funded centrally if small budget given –Shell - Ask speakers to stay and be listeners –Deutsche Bank’s conference is different – external focus CAREER DEVELOPMENT EVENTS –BT (Careering Ahead); Barclays (Day in Life of Director); Citigroup (1 yr prog, reflections); Ford (Women only training); GE (PIE, Bring mentee); IBM (Taking the stage); Lloyds TSB (Development Week); PWC (M/F debates); Shell (Can I to I Can); UBS (Networking & Leadership lunchtimes); Goldman Sachs organised via 5 career pillars NETWORKING EVENTS with senior (male) directors, also with senior women MENTORING, COACHING, SPONSORING Page 18


20 Favourite Events (1) Male CEOs on Diversity CEO on Women and Career Breaks A Day in the Life of a Director Experiences from a Woman on Wall Street Most senior woman in company on her career From making the tea to making MD Be the Best you can Mary Harney, Deputy PM, Ireland Alison Pearson (I don’t know how she does it) Page 20

21 Favourite Events (2) Networking Debate “Women have an easier time at work than men!” Breakfast/lunch meetings with senior men and women, especially smaller groups Speed Networking It’s a Knockout (cross-company teams & BBQ) 80 Broads Networking Whole day women’s conference, time for lots of things Page 21

22 Favourite Events (3) Career Development The Empower Hour Dealing with difficult people; Negotiation; Assertiveness Balancing high flying careers & personal life; Managing stress; Flexible working Role Models; Interview preparation (video); CVs Personal Branding; Dress for success Effective Communication; Getting & giving Feedback Videos – Understanding Male/Female Language and Body Language Page 22

23 Events wish list from women More events, more locations, alternative timings Some more social events - book clubs, drinks, no set agenda, just chilling out together with women Some smaller size events, get to really know people Less focus on just executive women More for younger women More for technical women More for women with children, the majority of the members Page 23

24 What more did women members want? MORE CLOUT NEEDED FOR REAL CHANGE More visibility to the senior men More doing, not just vision, information & motivation More coaching More to counter ageism Network may be rejected by some women – and men, because of perceived negative attitudes to men. “I want to build on being a woman, not put men down to get there!” Page 24

25 Who Benefits from Women’s Networks? (1) Women, according to Network Leaders, –Senior female role models, including part-timers, including mothers; Personal development, greater visibility, voice; Expanded personal networks; Increased social contacts lead to more satisfaction at work, aids retention Women, according to Women Members –Biggest benefit is expanded network; knowing some senior women, going onto committee, better understanding of business, network across all areas of technology –Career benefits & advice; visibility; opportunity to find informal mentors; chance to organise events; knowing senior women who were on promotion boards; getting involved in diversity initiatives; ability to help & support others –Nothing, according to a few members. Too political, courses too far away; not enough clout in network to seriously help. Page 25

26 Who Benefits from Women’s Networks? (2) Network Leaders – visibility, fulfilment, experience (committees, leadership, negotiation, management) The Company –Retention, talent management, communication flows, integration. Better developed women, enhanced reputation, female role models. –Women understanding core business/technology –Business benefits – women helping HR (Recruitment, Retention, Diversity, Training) PR (Reputation), Marketing (Client Relationships; Understanding Female Customers), New Product Development (Products & Services for Women) Page 26

27 How is the women’s network regarded by males? Many male colleagues suspicious about women’s networks. Seen as threat, more so than other anti-discrimination networks White men sometimes feel disenfranchised, no network for them 63% said no male backlash Some hide network activities from male boss Witches’ coven, knitting circles, girlie group, talk shop Yet almost all networks open to male membership. Events provided voluntarily by women members Page 27

28 What are the Measures of Success? Membership (numbers, targets met, no. of satellites) Impact on women (actions, behaviour, confidence) Events (Numbers, attendance, feedback, interest) Network’s Other Activities –Survey responses; success stories, mentoring relationships –Website hits; books & training materials borrowed –Awards for network; mentions in corporate publications –Committee functioning, regular meetings, invitations to speak The Business Measures –Gender statistics, retention, recruitment, satisfaction –Objectives achieved, HR audit, balanced scorecard –Culture change, senior managers wanting more involvement, line management participation Page 28

29 Advice from Network Leaders for Start-Up People –Challenge for the leader –Voluntary activity –Beware of burnout. But it really is worth all the effort –Need passion and commitment from CEO and top team Structure –Formalise, Define –Push for Funding –Follow through; Communicate Positioning in the Company Page 29

30 Network leaders’ views of their challenges Sustainability –Workload for volunteers; burnout; new skills for each phase –Accessing funding & resources –Accessing support, champions change, not all senior women will want to help –Succession planning Keeping the activities going –Finding new things to offer; being successful leads to more demands; keep activities business-focused –Keep separate websites for network organisers - overload The corporate culture –Need to work with the men; the masculine culture still prevails; lack of female role models. Page 30

31 Conclusions So impressed with voluntary efforts and contributions made by network leaders A very business-like approach –Avoid duplicating corporate responsibilities –Given commercialisation, companies should provide more funding to volunteers. –Positioning issues, & sometimes tension over performance measurement of voluntary activities Different stages/transition points to negotiate –Need succession planning, to avoid burnout –Have to meet different needs as women progress Page 31

32 The challenge of the male-dominated culture Page 32

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