You may have heard about women’s networks or even be asked whether you want to join one. But what exactly are they and what are the benefits of getting involved in one? This article explains.
What are women’s networks?
Women’s networks are exactly as they sound: professional groups created specifically by women and for women to come together and provide mutual support. These networks can exist both internally and externally to organisations, bringing together women from different departments, professions, levels or even industries.
Why are they so valuable?
Women’s networks are great places to build connections with other female professionals, to share ideas, learn from each other and find out about exciting career development opportunities. Many networks will run events, meetings and networking and mentoring opportunities for their members.
They also offer a space to discuss your experiences in the workplace and find support and advice to help you overcome gender-based barriers in your career. For example, they may be able to advise you on things like promotions or pay negotiations. Or, if there’s a specific issue you’re dealing with in the workplace, they can provide a listening ear and guidance on how to handle it. Being able to talk openly about your experiences in a safe environment can help you feel more confident, supported and happy at work.
Lastly, networks may be involved in internal policy and advocacy work. For example, they may play an integral role in advising the company’s board on how to create a more inclusive workplace. As such, they have the power to create lasting change.
How can you get involved?
The first step is to find out whether your company already has a network set up that you can join. Speak to colleagues about it to see who is involved and can introduce you. There may also be an internal communications channel you can easily join.
There are also industry-wide networks out there that can help you to network more broadly in your field. Take a look online for any networks in your area or ask some of your colleagues if they are a member.
Or maybe you could start one yourself…
If there isn’t an existing women’s network in your company or for your profession, why not set one up? Try to get like-minded colleagues and peers together and organise an introductory event or meeting. You should be able to advertise this in your workplace and encourage more people to join.
You can also set up a network externally utilising social media platforms such as LinkedIn. You’d be surprised how many people are looking to join women’s networks, so why not be the one that takes the initiative and starts one?
Women’s networks exist to support you, while they also give you the chance to support others. So, whether you need advice, are looking to meet like-minded people, have a great idea you want to share or simply want to make your voice heard, don’t hesitate to reach out and get involved.