The annual Women’s Leadership Summit was hosted at the Carlson School of Management. This large event is well attended and a great community building opportunity for women to connect and network. Behind the scenes the school is exploring new offerings to support women in both their careers and networks. There is not one career path that fits all and many scenarios are being examined to study what the needs are for each situation. A key element that seems to cross all the paths is the need for both a strong peer network, in addition to, a strong mentorship network. Given the diversity of career paths, you run into interesting situations where women have taken ten or more years out of their professional careers to pursue a family. Returning to the workforce as obvious needs like education and connections, but of equal interest is what offerings could be put in place to keep them engaged during their time out of the office. Could they be still plugged into current trends, technology, and global market developments through digital media. Could there be online sessions that keep them up to speed on business and market advancements. Could their be social events to help them maintain their networks and listen to the challenges their peers are still facing in corporate america. Could there be entrepreneurial clubs to help them launch businesses that better fit their new lifestyles. The answer to these and many other compelling ideas is yes!
While this discussion began centered around women’s careers and very interesting trend has happened to both genders in the past decade. Both men and women have been serving in the military and have been going through repeated deployments that disrupt their traditional career paths. Both individuals and organizations have had to learn to adapt to the deployments and return integration of veteran’s into the workforce. While challenging for both genders and their organizations, this has created a much higher degree of awareness across corporate america and their human resource departments to address these concerns. The opportunity that this could afford our society is exciting if we can move issues like these into the main stream. By recognizing both men and women need to be able to accommodate a variety of career paths and career disruptions helps us all move past stereotypical definitions of success being a single ladder we are all progressing on.
I encourage all to get involved in you local education programs to help define future offerings that society needs to create a more vibrant workforce and offerings to enable everyone to continue to develop their careers even during life’s detours.