There are so many reasons why women-only leadership programs exist, all of which focus on career development and progression. Among these benefits are that these programs:
- Give women a supportive environment to take risks within a group of people that often have similar perspective and experiences within that workplace.
- Provide a platform for women to build relationships and share a common experience with others across the organization to improve their network. (Which, in many cases, is required for advancement.)
- Enable women to be in a majority position in a group dynamic for a change to foster insights and help each other to identify and overcome gender blocks to leadership.
- Learn new skills to increase engagement, retention and advancement.
So, with the knowledge that there are many benefits to a women’s leadership program, how does one select one?
There’s no one-size fits all when it comes to implementing a program. And at OGC we recommend 5 steps to figuring out what would work for your organization.
1. IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM
Here are some questions to ask to help you identify which group of women you want to invest in today:
- Are women stalling at a specific level or department?
- Are women leaving at a specific level or department?
- What would be the quantifiable benefits of advancing or retaining them?
- What would be lost without their retention or advancement?
In our work, we’ve seen answers such as:
- Millennials leaving after 5 years
- Women plateauing or opting out in middle management when they are having children
- A struggle to hire women because of lack of positive lifestyle at the top role modeling
2. ESTABLISH OUTCOMES
As you begin to think about measuring your success, what would it look like? What specific benefits are you looking to gain for your particular group of women?
Here are some different ways of measuring the impact of your WIL program:
- Increased confidence and engagement of women in your organization
- Increased advancement
- Increased retention
3. PROGRAM DESIGN
Design with those established outcomes in mind and consider:
- How many level(s) of women can you reach with this program?
- How many women at each level would participate?
- What’s the length of the program?
- What length of training time is feasible for this group?
- Will it be conducted in-person, flipped classroom or virtual?
4. CRITERIA FOR SUCCESS
Lastly, what will make the program successful?
Here are some of the things we’ve found to be successful in improving outcomes – elements which are integral to our programs:
- Long enough program to have time to practice what they learned in real-life situations
- Peer-coaching support for practicing new skills
- Accountability partners to grow network
- Journaling for reflection and deepening of the learning
- Pre-and post surveys to evaluate effectiveness.
- Pre- and post meeting with managers
- Letter of support from manager
- Letter of commitment from participant
5. GAINING SUPPORT AND BUDGET
So how then, do leaders garner buy-in and support for WIL programs?
- Prepare a summary of the quantifiable problem about women. E.g. X women are leaving at this level every year.
- Be clear in your metrics for what you hope to achieve. E.g. We want to reduce attrition by 20%.
- Articulate how those metrics will support the strategic or revenue goals of the organization. E.g. Quantify the cost of turnover or client dissatisfaction.
- Provide a specific timeline, group and cost.
Final Things to Consider
Changing behavior takes time. If you’re able to track your participants over time this will help to see if you’ve achieved your goals. Which, you can then relay back to your managers.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?
At Orange Grove Consulting we have three primary programs that we offer to clients to help our clients achieve their leadership objectives. For example,
If your goal is to bring senior leadership into the pipeline towards taking their seat among top tier leadership, we suggest our 7 half-day session program. In addition to self-assessments and helping women achieve leadership through the lens of a woman’s unique career perspective, this program offers modules on Managing the Team, Finance and Growing the Business, offering a strategically minded leadership building program.
If you’re looking to deepen the learning experience that connects women at multiple levels with their peers across your organization, you might consider our 6-month blended learning program which combines a e-learning component with live (in-person or virtual) facilitated peer-discussions. This program gives participants ample time in between session to practice their skills in everyday situations with the support of rotating accountability partners. The 6-month timeline gives the women an opportunity to deepen their learning over time.
If you need to keep it simple, and want something fundamental for your women at the emerging and mid-career level, we suggest our 4-session program. This program offers time for participants to practice new behaviors in-between sessions with the support of accountability partners as well as build connectivity among one another, and the organization.
If you’re looking for women in leadership programs that help women advance, we are the experts. Check out our Women in Leadership Programs, or please email us at [email protected] to learn more.