Creating a Year-Long Dialogue on Advancing Women
“We keep running BRG events, but we’re really not moving the needle. The company expects us to help lead the women’s strategy for the company, and yet I get very little money or resources. I have amazing committed volunteers, but it’s just not enough. Why is this so hard?”
A frustrated president of a Women’s Business Resource Group (BRG) uttered those words during a call on Monday. Over the years, I have heard many Diversity Inclusion and Equity (DEI) leaders recount similar frustrations.
I get it. As a former BRG leader, I’ve been there. In doing this work for more than 20 years, I have found that two key elements are often missing. The first is a truly integrated Women’s Leadership Strategy tied to the business model of the company. Many well-intentioned BRG’s organizations miss the mark as their BRG does not have a strategic operating plan but rather hosts programs, which while well-intended, do not connect to the business of the company. As a result, leadership does not make the necessary commitment.
The second missing element is a 12-month program designed to be taken back to the business units by BRG leaders to share with their teams. This is a critical element as one of the most successful elements of best-in-class companies is to talk regularly about the challenges that women (and other under-represented groups) face on a regular basis. Additionally, it is critical that we engage men as advocates for this programming to obtain incremental results for advancing women.
These elements help to ground your BRG in the company’s mission and strategy and outline a communications strategy for transparency and engagement.
Creating an Organizational Playbook
To support your efforts I am providing a free module on how to Create an Integrated Women’s Leadership Plan.
I encourage you to watch this module with your BRG leadership team, (or if you are a DEI practitioner watch it with your colleagues) and work through the step-by-step guide. This module is absolutely free, and it is my gift to all BRG leaders and DEI professionals to help you write a more strategic plan.
Creating 12 Months of Dialogue
To help you and your BRG engage a broad base of support for your initiatives, I’ve taken my most popular keynotes, workshops and executive sessions and packaged them into a six-module program called Creating Gender Advocates: A Virtual Series (CGA).
The CGA series was designed to help you:
- Engage more men (and women) as advocates for gender equality.
- Integrate your Women’s Leadership initiative into the everyday work of the organization.
- Develop metrics and accountability goals for tangible results.
- Share actionable steps that men and women at any level in your organization can take to drive change.
My suggestion is that you leverage the CGA series to create 12 months of programming for your BRG by featuring one module every two months. Each module includes a downloadable video and participant’s guide for self- or team-paced participation.
The key to advancing gender equality? Engaging men (and women).
It is possible to move the needle on your women’s leadership strategy and position your BRG as a resource to drive and implement change within your organization. Each of us has the opportunity to be an ally and advocate within our sphere of influence.
I estimate that up to 30 percent of men in most organizations are ready to become advocates, but many lack the skills and training to demonstrate advocacy on a daily basis. Additionally, women may lack the tools and strategies to advance and support other women. Creating real and sustainable change in your organization is an ongoing process and takes daily work and a strategic outlook in order to move gender balance and equality forward.
What’s working in your organization to move the needle on gender equality?