"Starting a networking group can be relatively easy; however, sustaining the positive momentum that such a group generates is a very complex and difficult problem. Catalyst has provided us with a wonderful resource for starting a group and meeting its longer-term challenges as well." (Mona Lau, managing director, globalization and diversity, Banker's Trust)
Creating Women's Networks: A How-To Guide for Women and Companiesby Sheila W. Wellington (Foreword by), Catalyst
Discover a dynamic new force in leadership development. This remarkable guide shows companies exactly how they can better retain and increase leadership talent through the establishment of women's networks--networks that link specific female employee concerns and larger organizational goals in ways that bolster the bottom line. Based on the cutting-edge research of Catalyst--America's foremost nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of women in business--this guide explains why women's networks are valuable. It shows how companies large and small have leveraged women's networks to their advantage. And it provides a detailed framework readers can follow to create a network within their organization. Charged with first-person success stories, it will prove invaluable to executives and managers concerned with decreasing turnover, increasing employee satisfaction, and optimizing the leadership potential of their entire work force.
Are there obstacles to women's career development where you work -- an old-boys' network, a glass ceiling, an involuntary mommy track? Do you wish you had a group of like-minded colleagues to help tackle issues like these? Chances are, you do. Catalyst -- the New York City firm that has advised a roster of blue-chip corporations on how to attract female talent and then keep it -- thinks every company would benefit from an in-house women's network, and it has put together a book to help you get started: Creating Women's Networks: A How-to Guide for Women and Companies.
This slim volume is a no-nonsense, commonsense bible for establishing an effective women's network at your company. The book is drawn from years of rich consulting experience at Fortune 500 companies. Catalyst knows what works and what doesn't; what the common pitfalls are; what your expectations for a women's network can be; and what you shouldn't expect.
It's all laid out here in an easy-to-use format. The recipe follows a sensible sequence, beginning with, Do you need a network? If so, it explains how to get it off the ground ("this is the fun part," the book says); how to build company-wide support; how to grow; and even how to call it quits if your network has reached its goals and is no longer necessary.
The book is peppered with anecdotes from women's-network participants, snapshots, war stories, and advice from those who have been there and done it at Kodak, Dow Chemical, McGraw-Hill, Bankers Trust, and a host of other well-known companies. The tone of the book is helpful, realistic, and generous: Here's what's worked for women at these companies, here's what they achieved, and here's how you can adapt their strategies for success at yours. Chapters begin with a "Guiding Question" -- such as, "How can a network that's raring to go focus its energy on just a few goals?" -- and end with a checklist that moves your network to the next step.
Some of the recommendations are more obvious than others: By now it's common knowledge that if you don't start meetings on time and have a clear agenda, people won't look forward to them and won't participate. We're all stretched for time, and any volunteer activity that isn't focused on achievable results will flounder. Other recommendations dig deeper, addressing the importance of involving senior women (at Bankers Trust, the book says, "it was the first time senior women had been called upon in this way and they loved it"); knowing how and when to evaluate your network's effectiveness ("A process like this is too comprehensive to be done annually" -- better to do it every three to five years); deciding when, if, and how to expand membership; and effectively utilizing email and Internet technology. If what you have in mind is a subversive revolution at your company, Creating Women's Networks is not the answer. But if you and your colleagues want to work with management to create an effective network for real solutions, this book is a must.
Sarah Finnie Cabot
Sarah Finnie Cabot is the president of KSV Interactive, a new-media company in Burlington, Vermont. She was previously the programming director of iVillage.com and the editorial promotion manager of The Atlantic Monthly magazine. She is working on a book about maternal instinct. Cabot lives in Vermont with her husband and their four school-age children.
Meet the Author
CATALYST is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization whose research and advisory services are aimed at maximizing opportunities for women in management and executive positions. Its staff is frequently quoted in major media, including The New York Times, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and most other business publications. Catalyst is headquartered in New York City.
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