In a recent blog post, I discussed key traits to foster in women involved in your company’s business programs. As more females rise in the ranks at workplaces, the need arises for companies to dedicate resources to building such women-centric programs. If your company does not have a program in place, I strongly encourage you to consider offering this opportunity to the women in your firm.
The benefits of these programs include attracting and retaining top female talent, fostering a supportive and progressive culture, as well as growing your business and bottom line. With this in mind, here are considerations and takeaways for those interested in starting a women in business program at their company.
1. There must be a true commitment from the very top of the organization. Support from senior leadership and even the Board of Directors is essential to the long-term success of the program. If this solid support is not present, don’t waste your resources, time or money!
2. Once you have the partnership of senior leadership, direct reports must be held accountable to execute and stay engaged in the program. Too often there’s clear dedication and passion from the very top, but the next level – which is so impactful to developing the program – doesn’t mirror that same enthusiasm. If the direct reports aren’t accountable for executing on the mission of the program, it will not be a long-term, sustainable program.
3. The commitment to advancing women in the workplace must be ingrained in the organization’s culture. For instance, when you are making hiring decisions, consider diversity. When you have a conference, think about who your speakers are and ensure they are reflective of not only your company’s core competencies but that they capture the diversity you are striving to create and sustain. Including both men and women, younger employees and more tenured executives in your speaking line-up is valuable from a content and optics perspective.
4. The initial costs associated with starting a women in business program should never be a deterrent. While costs are an important factor in any business decision, the long-term potential of women-centric programs is worth the investment. Companies of all sizes should consider the long-term gains such programs offer. The passion and commitment of senior leadership will be very visible to those who participate.
5. The program must be available to every woman. Who are we to determine what a woman’s individual goal is? Look at the success stories out there – women who started at the bottom of the corporate ladder and worked their way up to CEO! Why would any program like this eliminate, define or identify only certain women to participate?
I trust this information helps further the valuable discussion regarding the advancement of females in the workplace, and serves as a useful resource for anyone who is considering starting this type of program at their company.