How WOMEN Unlimited’s Role as a Research Practitioner Supports Female Talent Development
Extensive research has proven that corporations not only grow, but thrive, when women are represented in the C-suite. A significant study published last year by Grant Thornton confirmed that businesses in the United States, the United Kingdom and India are forgoing $655 billion in profits simply by inadequately addressing gender parity in the workplace.
The Grant Thornton study, and many others like it, are proof that empowering female employees has a lasting impression on the bottom line. Our corporate partners know the importance of supporting their female employees, but may not have necessarily found the right way to achieve it. It’s understandable – I read many articles that cite research regarding the barriers women face, but they don’t offer the solutions.
As an organization committed to supporting women as they navigate the corporate landscape, WOMEN Unlimited doesn’t just provide the answers, but the “why” behind those answers. To this end, we serve as research practitioners as well, tapping into our doctorate-level professional knowledge and first-hand experience to discover the information needed to create the most effective programming possible.
What WOMEN Unlimited Discovers While Conducting Practitioner Research
The information we garner from our research keeps our programs current and relevant, crafting a fine-tuned experience for our participants, as well as an amplified, company-wide impact.
Through studies, surveys and more, WOMEN Unlimited uncovers vital information about how women navigate the corporate environment. Access to thousands of program participants, human resources professionals and company executives provides a wealth of knowledge used to shape, enhance and continually update our programming.
I would like to share two examples of how WOMEN Unlimited’s role as a research practitioner benefits our programs:
- We learn of the challenges women face directly from the women who experience them. WOMEN Unlimited continually speaks with the thousands of women in its programs to monitor the challenges they face in the corporate environment. Through this doctorate-level practitioner research, WOMEN Unlimited learned that these challenges are not static; they evolve as women rise within the corporation. While early and mid-career women shared issues relating to confidence, visibility and maintaining a healthy work/life balance, women at the senior management level faced difficulties with receiving recognition, developing effective executive communication skills and navigating the path to the C-suite.
- Practitioner research informs critical growth strategies for female talent. Mentorships are one of the most productive ways for women seeking career advancement, but forging and maintaining a mentoring relationship is not as simple as introducing two people. Research demonstrates that mentoring programs work, but our practitioner research defines the success of those mentoring programs, including ours. Through my doctorate research, particularly with mid-level career women, I learned that mentoring relationships work best when they were “intentional,” with proper preparation, application and relationship-building. I took that information and ensured it formulated WOMEN Unlimited’s LEAD program. This focus on “intentional” mentoring then successfully guides our participants through the mentor relationship-building process.
Serving as a research practitioner for more than 23 years has enabled WOMEN Unlimited to support the development of a secure learning environment, where participants can explore some of the barriers that may stand in their way to career growth. Which barriers are self-created, and which are institutional? How do certain behaviors influence these barriers, and how can those behaviors shift to encourage success within an organization? How can women in our programs strive to be more effective at work? With the answers to these questions in hand, WOMEN Unlimited supports a healthier, proactive and evolving corporate culture well on its way to continued growth and success.
Dr. Rosina L. Racioppi
President & CEO
WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.