Serving San Francisco, East Bay, and Silicon Valley

Leaders and Participants in Women’s Initiative Networks Share Best Practices and Challenges

March 2011

Trish CoxAt a recent Women’s Initiative Networks (WIN) event, Trish Cox, SVP of Brokerage Services and an early advocate for Charles Schwab’s WIN, shared start up hints, keys to success and practical insights. Trish’s suggestions included:

  • Define the group’s mission
across the company to cement the commitment of the leadership, include a focus on developing new business for the firm, not solely philanthropic pursuit
  • Create branches throughout the company’s regions with leadership and an advisor in each location, encourage participation at all levels by asking for specific contributions and commitments
  • Have the most senior women participate in panel discussions when traveling to remote offices
  • Assure there are quarterly check in calls with leads and advisors, share progress and best practices – including findings from alliances with other companies and groups
  • A lively discussion followed with the participants sharing challenges and brainstorming solutions. Building awareness and buy-in was a key focus, with suggestions varying from:
  • Assuring women know how to join the organization through emails, regional WIN calendars available to all employees, feature in new employee orientation and conduct membership drives
  • Automatically enrolling all Managing Directors and have them host intimate, candid conversation with Directors – this builds WIN support
  • Soliciting more participation by men to increase their awareness,
the WIN effectiveness and the men’s ability to relate to the women in the firm

Great success identified included integrating returning moms
back into work by helping with maternity paperwork, advising
on day care, assuring their office space is ready and welcoming them with a flower, welcome sign, and email. Women initiative leaders should enlist volunteers to chair committees focused on programs, communication, business development, and community development. Creating women-only networking events at corporate meetings (e.g. sales conferences, trade shows) will encourage connections.

Additionally, mentor programs can be complex and a lot of work, but the payoff can be great. There are many approaches, including publishing guidelines for peer mentoring, using Gallup strengths, and executive sponsor programs between senior leaders and high potential employees.
Be clear about the differences between sponsors and mentors, and the importance of each. These are just a few of the insights shared at the October breakfast, watch the FWA calendar for the WIN breakfasts in 2012!

Website by Kindem Design