Energize Your Women’s Initiative: A Q & A with Christina Roberts of Siemens

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Christina Roberts
Christina Roberts

Christina Roberts is the immediate past Chair of the Women’s Information Network for Siemens (WIN@S), and currently leads the WIN@S mentoring program. After appearing as a panelist in the webinar Energize Your Women’s Initiative, Christina offered to answer the following questions from our audience.

Question from Barbara: How can we convince management that having a women’s initiative is a valuable thing to do?

Answer: “If you are allowed, work on finding out some statistics about your organization: Are women leaving your company? Would helping them find a place to connect strengthen your organization? Is there a gap somewhere that a women’s initiative could help fill?”

“Also, take the opportunity to share how you can use this employee resource group to do some stretch assignments for your management. Is there a project that would be valuable to your organization but no one has the time to implement it? Advertise to your management how an employee resource group is there to support the business and that handling additional projects for the greater good of your company is another way an ERG gives back.”

Question from Tonya: How can you stay energized when you keep hitting road blocks?

Answer: “There are always going to be road blocks. One of the best things you can do is meet with all your key stakeholders (from every area of the business) and find out what their expectations are. If you understand where HR, Legal, Compliance, your Executive Sponsor, Volunteers – where everyone is coming from then it helps reduce your road blocks. But when a road block comes up find out what you can do to play in the sandbox – there is always a way around the road block. You just have to understand where the it is coming from in order to work with or around it.”

Question from Selena: Do you include include administrative assistants and hourly blue collar workers in your women’s initiatives?

Answer: “Absolutely – everyone is welcome in these groups and they should always be all-inclusive. This includes men too! We all need development, networking opportunities and the opportunity to connect and a women’s initiative is a great place to help everyone get what they need.”

Question from Louise and Sabra: What are characteristics of successful women’s initiatives?

Answer: “This is difficult because so many people have different definitions. Successes are big and small but I think when you see a cultural shift that you have been working towards, that is when you know you are truly successful. Here are some ways to quantify it and translate that into ‘business speak’: Maybe more women are staying at your organization, or more employees are getting promoted through the opportunities within your women’s initiative. Being able to show this type of data is very valuable (but can be easier said than done).”

Question from Louise and Sabra: What items do members list as the most important things that they value from a women’s network? And what can a network do to be more relevant?

Answer: “Our members value networking and the opportunity to learn more about the organization they work for. A lot of times employees come to work and stay in their area and a women’s initiative is a great place to showcase all the areas of your organization. You can help teach employees about what happens in other groups and give them the chance to meet new people and be able to grow themselves personally and professionally. Exposure is also another benefit that a women’s initiative can offer. Getting the chance to do stretch assignments and start presenting in front of management is a big draw for employees who are looking to grow their careers.”

Question from Maureen: How can we overcome challenges with a diverse group, including outside sales people, inside support staff and management, and find subject matter that works for all?

Answer: “Surveying your membership base to find out the hot topics they are interested in can be very helpful. When you are presenting on a specific topic consider setting up a panel with speakers from all areas to discuss their specific experience. The different points of view can also give the audience the chance to connect with at least one of the speakers and may help educate other groups on different areas of your organization related to the same topic.”

The Takeaway
I hope you learned as much from Christina and her answers as I did. Moving forward, I encourage you to seek out mentors like Christina, take action, and contribute to your own women’s initiative

Jo Miller

Jo is Founding Editor of Be Leaderly, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc., and creator of the Women’s Leadership Coaching® system, a roadmap for women who want to break into leadership. She has traveled in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and workshops, and counts being the only Aussie women’s leadership coach in Iowa among her unique “koalafications.” Learn more about Jo’s services at womensleadershipcoaching.com and follow @jo_miller on Twitter.

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