Simmons College has long been known for its Women's Leadership Initiative, with the Simmons School of Management and its MBA program designed specifically for women's career and leadership success, and the annual Simmons Leadership Conference, whose speakers and activities are among the best I've seen. The April 2012 conference theme of "Innovationa & Impact" included talks from HP CEO Meg Whitman and Zipcar Co-Founder Robin Chase. Confirmed speakers for the 2013 Leaderhsip Conference whose theme is "Women of Influence" to be held next year already include Sallie Krawcheck, Viola Davis, and Josie Natori.
The Simmons students in the Communications Management Program recently launched the inaugural issue of their new "Management Magazine". One of the issues they tackle is the effectiveness of women's networks within organizations. Some of the findings are not surprising, like the fact that women who are active in their organizations find them effective. But the authors of the article (aptly named "Panacea or Placebo"), Patricia Deyton (pictured left) and Deborah Marlino (pictured below), have some useful conclusions on how to make women's networks more effective for all women in the company. Their interviews show that networks are valuable when they offer skill-building opportunities like sharing best practices, training and mentoring, and when they improve "visibility" by increasing women employees' exposure to senior management. They highlighted the need for increasing involvement of senior management, men and women, and the need for more planned programming rather than only greeting events. Deyton and Marlino also point out that a company providing proper funding for the network shows how much senior management values the network and is committed to help women advance in their careers within the company, the old putting your money where your mouth is theory. Read more of this intersting article in the Simmons Management Magazine.