What’s In a Name?
WOMEN Unlimited – The Women’s Organization for Mentoring, Education and Networking
Whenever I facilitate one of our WOMEN Unlimited programs or speak at a Conference or workshop, one question invariably comes up and usually with a look that suggests the person asking has uncovered an interesting irony:
“Do you know that MEN is in your name?”
My answer is
“Yes, we do know and it’s no accident. It’s deliberate.”
The “men” in our name
The MEN in our name is full of meaning. It’s an acronym for the three-pronged approach we take to transform high potential women into talented leaders. It stands for Mentoring, Education and Networking.
And it’s more…
It stands for “men”, the men who remain the movers and shakers in corporate America; who more than 60% of the time, are the managers of women in our programs; who make up 74.9% of C-suite executives and 80.8% of S&P 500 corporate boards. (Catalyst. Pyramid: Women in S&P 500 Companies. New York: Catalyst, December 14, 2015.)
Without the support, involvement and commitment of men, nothing happens for the advancement of female talent. Our name reflects that corporate reality, a reality we’ve worked with since our founding over 21 years ago, when even fewer women were found at the top levels of leading corporations.
More than just a name
The “men” in our name is emblematic of our philosophy to engage male executives, help them to understand the barriers women face in corporations and to utilize techniques and strategies to advance their female talent to the benefit of the organization as a whole.
A few examples:
- Prior to a woman starting one of our programs, we actively involve her manager. We fully brief them on what the program covers, what to expect from her, how to support and guide her before, during and after the program. We emphasize that program participation is just the start, and that on the job, with the manager’s help and guidance, is where her true transformation to leader will happen.
- We help male managers improve their ability to provide honest feedback to the women on their team. We continually hear from both men and women, how difficult it is for male managers to give feedback, which is a crucial stumbling block to advancing female talent. Without feedback, women do not receive the guidance they need to play on their strengths and confront their weaknesses.
- Mentors are key players in helping women advance to higher corporate levels. We continually ask our corporate partners to engage both male and female mentors. Our experience has shown that the benefits of male mentors are two-fold. The women mentees gain a better understanding of the male point of view. The male mentors start to see more clearly the challenges women face and apply that new learning to help advance women across their organizations.
- At a time when most organizations are looking to feed their pipeline with talented women, we help CEOs, executives and managers at all levels pinpoint and address the aspects of their corporate culture that contribute to holding women back. Often subtle biases are at play without men or women realizing it. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a look at “old school” attitudes that need to be abandoned. Through involvement with WOMEN Unlimited, these impediments to advancing female talent get on an organization’s radar screen… and plans to combat them get underway.
So, yes, the “men” in our name is there deliberately. We want it to send a clear message that working side by side, women and men will put into play multiple long-term benefits for themselves and their corporations.
Dr. Rosina L. Racioppi
President & CEO
WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.