March 31, 2015

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Financial Women’s Association finds 76% of women at firms without a WIN would join; 39% say WINs impact job satisfaction

The Value of Women's Internal Networks (WINS) Summary

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New York, NY — A report issued today by the Financial Women’s Association (FWA) finds that although women’s networks within companies might initially be launched to provide networking opportunities or meet corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals, female employees and diversity leaders are finding another surprising result: impact to the bottom-line.

That’s because WINs increase interaction among female employees, creating synergies that can play an instrumental role in advancing business objectives, say top diversity and HR leaders. These networks also increase employee engagement and reduce attrition: In fact, 39% of employees surveyed believe their firm’s WIN might be a factor in staying with the firm.

Other key findings include the role of men – both as business leaders and hiring managers in partnering with WINs ‑ and employees’ desires to see their firms use social media for communication, a channel not utilized by corporate respondents.

The Value of Women's Internal Networks Report

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The report, based on surveys of 21 women in leadership roles at major financial companies and, separately, a broad range of female employees (583), was designed to help understand women’s internal networks (WINs) and offer best practices for corporate leaders. The report is believed to be the first of its kind focused on women’s networks in financial services companies.

“Women’s networks have exploded over the last 10 years, but the question is: how can companies use them effectively to attract, retain and advance women?” said Maureen Adolf, president of the Financial Women’s Association.

“The surprising finding is that WINs can have a positive impact on the bottom-line,” said FWA executive director Jennifer Openshaw. “Businesses may view them initially as a socially responsible initiative when, in fact, successful ones are idea-generators and can be profit-producing for business areas.”

Key Findings – Key findings include the following:

  • 77% of respondents at firms without a WIN would join if their organizations had one.
  •  39% of respondents believe these groups could contribute to their reasons for staying with their current firm.
  •  Newer employees at firms just a few years (up to 4) are more likely to say that their WIN contributes to their reasons for staying at their firms.
  •  While business objectives were not among the top goals cited by companies in creating WINs in our survey (42% cited business objectives as a goal of their WIN), our corporate roundtable revealed them to be a highly beneficial by-product.
  •  WINs are falling short in three key areas: a connection to compensation or performance reviews, new business, and external networking opportunities.
  •  In terms of content, women want education for career success over personal topics, placing emphasis on new work skills (e.g., new software, social media) and trending technology.
  •  40% of respondents agree that men should join a WIN. The key reason cited was to increase men’s understanding of women’s needs for advancement and avoid segregation of female employees.
  •  Nearly 10% of WIN members prefer to receive info about their WIN from social media (Facebook/LinkedIn groups), yet none of the corporate leaders surveyed are actually using social media to engage with their members.
  •  WINs provide employee engagement and advancement, but they’re also a means to “engage our clients around diversity,” said a corporate leader, citing a partnership with the FWA to host an event to which clients were invited.

The survey of employees was taken March 17-27 and company leaders March 2-10 followed by a roundtable discussion on March 11, 2015.

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About the FWA

Founded in 1956, the FWA’s mission is to accelerate the leadership and success of women across the financial community in all industries. The New York-based organization partners with companies to share best practices and provides opportunities for members to build their careers, meet industry leaders, earn the support of powerful women and major companies, and contribute to the next generation of female leaders. Please visit us to partner or join. Follow Us: @FWANY

Jennifer Openshaw, FWA

(212) 533-2141 x303

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