Want to make something of your career? Then join a network!
That was the mantra among business women back around the turn of the millennium in Denmark as various networks began to spring up all around the country. Most of them slowly declined and disbanded as the women became unsure of the benefits they were actually getting out of the meetings. But now, 18 years later, there are indications that female networks are making a comeback –
but this time, in a new and stronger version than before, according to Associate Professor Christian Waldstrøm, who works at Aarhus University and researches networks.
“Female networks are now being established for a specific purpose such as presenting unified fronts or helping each other in industries where women are poorly represented,” he said.
To have a real impact, the female networks must be established by the women themselves,
which Christian Waldstrøm believes that Deloitte’s new female networks demonstrate. Over the past two years, two new networks have been established, and a third is currently in the making.
“The women here are very aware of the fact that networks are about day-to-day relationships, where you might suddenly stop for a chat with a colleague if you need a sounding board for an idea. In those cases, a female network makes a lot of sense,” he said.
In the following, you can read what prompted two female ‘Deloitters’ to start up a female network as well as how they make use of it in their daily lives.
Easier to consult with collegues at work
When Stine Mørup’s stuck with a task that’s doing her head in, she’s always got a colleague she can consult with. Ever since she established the Tech Female Network in 2017, she’s had a much wider network to use as a sounding board.
“For instance, if I need to handle a task for a client in some area that I don’t have much experience with, it’s great to be able to draw on the knowledge of someone in the network who’s really good at that particular thing,” said Stine Mørup.
She and her colleagues spend many hours a week visiting clients. Stine got the idea to set up the network as a way to facilitate communication between the members despite their busy schedules.
“I believe that one of the most important things in the workplace is social well-being, and that’s what the network should promote,” she said.
“The vision is to create social well-being while also ensuring that the network helps us grow as professionals. It’s about getting to know each other, talk together and ask each other for advice.”
After one year, where the network has met four times for team-building activities, wine, good food and talks by inspirational female entrepreneurs, Stine Mørup has no doubt that the network is fulfilling its intended purpose:
“I’ve become better at actively making use of my colleagues in my daily life, and they also approach me,” she said.
Role models provide inspiration
When Amanda Thorup Arnfred started at Deloitte, there were only ten women in her department. As a young consultant, she rapidly found herself missing a role model she could look up to, which is why she started Monitor Female.
“We didn’t have any female partners or directors who we could see ourselves in, so the network gave me the opportunity to invite some inspirational women from outside the organisation who could share their stories and inspire us,” she said.
Over the course of the two years the network has been active, Amanda Thorup Arnfred and her female colleagues have hosted visits from the head of Microsoft Development and the former mayor, Anna Me Allerslev. For the speakers, it’s an opportunity to share career advice with an interested audience, but the women also make use of each other.
“If I encounter some challenges in my job, I have a network to share them with. That’s really important for me. These are people I don’t just have a professional relationship with, but also a personal one,” she explained.
Right from the start, the women agreed that the network should not be a forum for venting about their problems, but rather a place where they could draw inspiration from each other and empower one another, said Amanda Thorup Arnfred.
“We’ve formulated a vision called ‘Empower and inspire female leadership’. It’s about getting inspiration to dare to aspire towards new goals.”