Harnessing the Power of Women Leaders

About a month ago, WOMEN Unlimited, Inc. hosted another of our Executive Forums, this one focusing on Harnessing the Power of Women Leaders. Jeanie Coomber, WOMEN Unlimited’s Northeast Regional Director, was our co-moderator.

As always, I was thrilled and impressed by both the attendees and the level of expertise and discussion that ensued from bringing together high-powered executives to focus on fostering and developing female leadership talent. Participants represented a cadre of leading organizations including: JP Morgan Chase, DuPont, Prudential, Bayer, Bank of America, GlaxoSmithKline and Viacom.

Participants came to the Forum prepared to delve into three key questions:

  • What is the top challenge your organization faces in developing and retaining high potential women?
  • What implications does this type of diversity strategy have for your organization?
  • What will your business be requiring of its talent in the next one to three years?

Not surprisingly, the discussion was fast-paced with ideas, best practices and “to do’s” shared across a variety of talent development areas including:

  • Taking risks on behalf of women – a requirement across the board for BOTH men and women
  • Championing potential leaders – starting with the CEO who sends a clear message that managers will be measured and held accountable for implementing diversity initiatives
  • The vital role of men in the advancement of women – with the overwhelming majority of leadership positions still held by men, it is crucial that men understand the bottom-line importance of developing and retaining female talent
  • An enlightened management – who focus on the best ways to support their female talent and the most effective approaches for doing it
  • Integrating diversity strategies and practices into the business – making sure that diversity is not just a “sometime” program, but an integral part of short and long-term corporate plans and goals

To help them better make the “business case” to their corporate leadership for developing female talent, each participant received a copy of the WOMEN Unlimited 20th Anniversary Corporate Partner Survey which I’d also like to share with you. The survey contains many strong metrics, as well as highly-helpful commentary on the tangible benefits of supporting and developing high potential women.

For example, a majority of the corporate partners surveyed pinpointed the following retention strategies:

  • Provide more opportunities for women to develop leadership skills on the job
  • Offer development opportunities early in a woman’s career
  • Create formalized mentoring programs
  • Have a well-defined succession planning process
  • Invest in external development that compliments organizational practices and goals

Please take a look at The Survey. I’d also welcome your posts about the diversity strategies that are working for your organization; and would love to make them the focus of a future blog.

Dr. Rosina L. Racioppi

President and CEO
WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.