How to Build an Internal Women’s Organization (and Why Your Startup Needs One)
by Cinthya Garibay, Marketing Manager at Funnel
We created the Woman of Funnel in 2019, with the mission to empower, celebrate, support, and perpetuate success for women in our community. Since then, we’ve come to define our community as our workplace, industry, and the community at large in which we live, making it our duty to strengthen women’s voices, inspire continued career growth, and help one another take risks. Working in a tech startup, there are often many competing priorities and little time to think about which of multiple avenues to invest energy and resources in supporting your team– particularly women, who are often underrepresented in tech, making up only 28.8% of the tech workforce. Here are three reasons why standing up a women’s organization should be at the top of your priorities list:
Attract top talent. As a recent graduate, I was only interested in a company that had strong female leadership and in which I felt I would be supported in excelling in my career. I’m not alone in this thinking, and if your company aims to attract female top-talent, you’ll need to show and prove that you take their success seriously at your company. Let’s also remember that every team should want more women–studies have shown that teams with a higher percentage of women perform better, building strong relationships that lead to more results.
Build more skilled team members. A women’s organization provides opportunities for your women to learn more, share and build their skills, and cultivate more leadership abilities. Through workshops, presentations, and other endeavors, your female colleagues will be more well-rounded individuals in their day-to-day.
Create more cohesiveness within and across teams. Having an opportunity to work with women in your team in a new way, as well as interact with women on other teams, increases cohesiveness. Spending more time, you build trust and naturally strengthen relationships, which in turn help teams be more productive and efficient, while accelerating company succcess.
Our own Co-founder and Chairwoman Caren Maio put it best saying, “We need more women in the conversation, building for the future. When we work together, the things we can accomplish are unimaginable. By investing more in our own women’s organization, we are creating a more equitable company for all.” So, if you’re ready to take your team to the next level by supporting the women, here are some important things to remember as you stand up your women’s organization.
First, this doesn’t have to be a top-down approach. If you’re a worker at a company that doesn’t have a women’s organization, you can create one yourself. Our Women of Funnel group was created by myself, a marketing manager, in a grassroots approach. My cofounders and I took the idea to our leadership team who were thrilled about creating a more progressive and safe work environment.
“If you’re a worker at a company that doesn’t have a women’s organization, you can create one yourself.”
Whether it’s a top-down or grassroots approach, the actual formation of a women’s organization includes creating a mission statement, goals, and roles. A mission statement can be as brief or detailed as you’d like, outlining the purpose of the group. You’ll use this in developing your goals, or specific outcomes you hope to accomplish through the organization. These goals may include setting up workshops, hosting monthly events, setting up a specific slack channel, organizing a book club, or planning non-work outings. You’ll decide on these based upon the needs you see and the culture of your company. To accomplish these goals, you’ll need to establish some roles, deciding who will be in charge of ensuring your goals are carried through. This may be as simple as having one or two leaders spearhead the entire organization, or it could be more elaborate such as having chairs for communications, events, and additional initiatives.
To maintain progress toward your newly founded women’s organization’s goals, you’ll want to consistently check in with your group on what is and isn’t working. You’ll also want to seek some collaboration from the men in the company and even partner with groups or organizations outside of yours (i.e. Girls Who Code, General Assembly, etc.), to further drive impact. Finally, to measure that impact of your women’s organization, we suggest benchmarking key thoughts or feelings from the women in the group, and measuring sentiment annually to see if they are feeling supported, given opportunities, and feeling more empowered in their careers.
“Seek collaboration from the men in the company and even partner with groups or organizations outside of yours to further drive impact.”
If you have other thoughts or would like help standing up your internal women’s organization, feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to help brainstorm and bring your vision to life.