It has almost been a year since the inception of the Women in B2B Network, and what a year it has been! From starting the network in the UK and bringing it stateside; we’ve held multiple events over the course of the year focused on empowering and supporting women in the workplace. To give everyone a better understanding on the evolution of the network, I sat down with my colleague Leanne Chescoe who helped form and grow the network.
Lia Hanson: Hi Leanne! What was the inspiration for creating the Women in B2B Network?
Leanne Chescoe: Networking groups can be an efficient way to meet valuable contacts and gain ideas. But for some, female-only networking groups go the extra mile in providing a space for gender issues and equality to be discussed without judgement.
It’s no secret that B2B marketing at senior level is predominantly male—in fact, many female marketers earn less than their male counterparts at board level.
Building internal women’s networking groups and acknowledging gender issues within a company can propel awareness, improve the working environment and boost employee confidence, that was a huge driving factor in launching the Women in B2B Network on International Women’s Day in 2018.
LH: We’ve discussed before about the challenges that women face in the workplace, what are some of the topics that have been covered and how does the network go about addressing some of these challenges?
LC: Let me start with our mission statement, which in essence what we created is, “A vibrant community for senior professional women to connect, contribute and grow. Our mission is to create a platform that connects women to opportunities, networks, businesses and expertise that empowers them.”
We have hosted events in the UK and NYC for people to meet informally to inspire each other and exchange ideas across all industries in business. We have created a comfortable environment that allows women to share experiences, give business advice and ask those questions they may not feel comfortable asking a colleague or boss. We try to cover a variety of topics we know are key issues in the workplace today and provide our members with practical tips on how to overcome challenges or implement new ideas.
The network has covered topics including:
LH: How did the Women in B2B Network go international?
LC: The network was well received in the UK and I think that was seen by our female leaders in the US. Rhodette Zuñiga, Manager of Customer Success at Demandbase, helped evangelize the network in NYC. The NYC office has since hosted two events, one introductory event that served more as a meet and greet, and second a panel discussion on the Voice of Women & Career Growth.
LH: We’ve discussed the challenges of holding an event about inclusivity—that is just for one gender. What do you think are some ways that men can be involved in this network?
LC: We have had men attend our events. Having an open dialogue about the realities in the workplace is precisely why this network exists. And as we mention in our mission statement, our goal is to create a platform for communication. In fact, we have a gentlemen joining our panel at the one year celebration of the network in the UK.
LH: At Demandbase, we’ve taken some steps to grow awareness on gender equality issues as well.
LC: Right, in 2017, we sponsored “Path Forward” which was sponsoring 5 “Returnships”—4 month internships for parents that took time off to raise children that are returning to the workforce—we ended up hiring 4 of the 5 participants. We also conducted a pay equality survey and found that pay at Demandbase is equal among female & male peer groups, which is really great to hear.
LH: What’s your advice for young women out there trying to advance their career?
LC: One take away we’ve been hearing at our events is the importance of not only seeking a mentor, but being a mentor—to both men and women. Influencing when you can and supporting those around you is what is most appreciated and usually needed.
LH: What’s next for the network Leanne?
LC: As I said before we are hosting our one year celebration with a panel discussion on How to Achieve a Diverse & Inclusive Culture in London on March 7. Additionally, we will continue to expand the network with more events in the US from New York to San Francisco. People who are looking to be involved are welcome to join our Women in B2B Network LinkedIn Group as well, which offers a place to share and encourage members with business advice, tips and information to support women in business.
We’re also getting invited to speak on other Women in B2B panels. At the recent B2B Marketing Exchange event in Scottsdale, AZ, we participated in the How & Why Visionary Brands Are Embracing Diversity At All Levels & Paving Sky’s-The-Limit Career Path panel.
During this panel we discussed why and how companies are ensuring that women entering the job market for the first time or considering a career change will find opportunities expanding for them in the technology industry and beyond.
LH: That’s great to hear the network is expanding so rapidly, I’m excited to see what 2019 will bring! Thank you for your time and your ongoing efforts with bringing the Women in B2B Network global.
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