I was introduced to the world of women’s networks during my time at Shell Singapore, and it was an exhilarating, empowering, and insightful experience. Being part of a sisterhood dedicated to supporting others and fostering growth, professionally and personally, was truly inspiring. And let me clarify, it’s not just a sisterhood but also includes our male counterparts in Singapore. I was captivated by its incredible impact on the lives it touched and its positive influence on business. It was a no-brainer for me; since then, establishing women’s networks in my organizations has become my passion.
In my very first article I published in Linked In, I aim to share my observations and experiences, having had the joy of being part of women’s networks (I’m currently on my third!). I hope this piece will leave you, regardless of gender, inspired to establish a women’s network in your workplace.
Identifying Strong Talents and Leaders
A women’s network provides an excellent platform for leaders within the organization to recognize exceptional talents. The founders, committee members, and sponsors who volunteer for this peer-driven initiative bring abundant positive energy and innovation to create exciting programs. From my experience of interacting with various women’s networks, the creativity behind these programs never ceases to amaze me. Moreover, the founders and sponsors are leaders, or future leaders, who genuinely care for their team members beyond transactional and contractual relationships. This fosters loyalty and encourages individuals to go the extra mile. Active involvement in women’s networks signals an understanding of leveraging diversity and promoting inclusivity, both essential for business success. As the women’s network evolves, the founders, committee members, and sponsors may initiate programs that extend beyond the company, showcasing exceptional external mindsets and talents. There are many other qualities of those who are active to get you excited enough to help them progress their career and, simultaneously, worry others will poach them.
The Women’s network will inevitably grow connectedness for female professionals. Whatever the program and calendar, women (and men) will work together beyond transactional and thus allow connectedness amongst the employees to grow, creating a physical and mental safety net that will make the workplace more pleasant. Unlike other interest-driven peer organizations that typically focus on a single dimension, women’s networks encompass various aspects such as career, family, social, and personal interests. Committees develop programs within these four streams to cater to the needs of their members, fostering even deeper connections and addressing broader concerns.
Through women’s networks, male and female employees discover that it touches many facets of their lives, making a positive impact not only on them but also on their families. The team’s families are expected to be appreciated as much as the team member on the merit of the women’s network. This will for sure draw the loyalty of the team and their family given their additional need (for example, growing the competency to manage family financials, exercising with fun, etc.), and with loyalty, the attrition rate will decline, including the need (and cost) of hiring a replacement and not to mention learning curve that typically causes the business to slow down inadvertently.
To all the senior leaders whose company have women network been established already, I hope with this article I wake you up to value more the founders and the movers in your respective women network as talents in your organization. They are the talents that connect, invigorate and help other thrive in your organization after all.
Ensuring Workplace Safety and Inclusivity
A primary focus of women’s networks is to create a protective environment for female professionals, ensuring their physical and mental well-being in the workplace. The programs, directly and indirectly, raise awareness about diversity and inclusivity, going beyond gender-based considerations. Women’s networks also play a crucial role in safeguarding female team members by providing a platform for sharing valuable insights and inputs. As women’s networks expand beyond individual companies, cross-learning among different organizations enables each to better protect and support their female employees. Industry-level challenges and agendas can also be effectively addressed when women’s networks unite, collaborating to drive change and foster industry-wide growth.
Showcasing Positive Energy and Encouraging Female Talent
Active women’s networks radiate positive energy and exemplify the principles of “leaning in.” In the process, they naturally attract other female talents, whether fresh graduates or experienced professionals. As environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations gain importance among regulators and in the realm of banking and good governance, gender parity is becoming increasingly critical. However, female talents, whether in STEM fields, sales, or other sought-after areas, are highly sought after and fiercely competed for. While I was in Shell and now in Delta Dunia, I have learnt and experienced how difficult it is to recruit female talents, particularly those in front line and leadership positions, I experience first-hand that to recruit, my company and its employee value proposition must stand out. To stand out, companies must demonstrate their commitment to fostering female talent and empowering women in all their roles. Women’s networks are a powerful lever that brings this commitment to life, showcasing a company’s dedication to empowering female professionals and creating an environment for their growth.
Performing Key Lever and Enabler for Strategic Partnership
Women’s networks serve internal purposes and further, actually also pave the way for the purposeful and intentional development of commercial opportunities. Companies with a similar commitment to managing female talent find strategic partnerships more naturally aligned. Whether due to their balanced customer base or dedication to women’s empowerment, women’s networks play a pivotal role in facilitating more profound, more meaningful partnerships beyond mere transactions. These partnerships can unlock synergies and drive mutual growth and success.
With these reasons (and undoubtedly many more that you will discoveryourself as you read this article), I hope you are inspired to establish a women’s network within your company. Anyone can initiate this movement; it does not have to be the top female leaders in your company. Your company’s senior leaders will undoubtedly provide support and sponsorship.
If you are interested in collaborating with us at Delta Dunia Group (we proudly call ourselves MahaDEWI), please reach out to me. If you have any questions or need guidance on establishing a women’s network, do not hesitate to contact me. This is something of a passion of mine and source of happiness therefore I am committed to assisting you to the best of my ability.
Here’s to empowering more women!