In November 2009, BC Hydro invited a number of companies to a luncheon to discuss and share best practices with respect to the women’s organizations they support. This conversation inspired TELUS to launch an event that “brings women together” from various companies to explore the art of what is possible from working across organizations. Led by Carmela Thomson from TELUS, this association of like-minded organizations saw immediate value in creating an opportunity for women to network outside of their own companies and to support common diversity goals.
The first event was launched in 2011 with five participating companies – TELUS, BC Hydro, SAP, Deloitte, and the UBC Sauder School of Business. Since then, the event has become an annual occurrence; consistently selling over 250 seats each year, with a goal to sell over 350 in 2014. TELUS, BC Hydro and SAP have remained consistent supporters throughout the four years. Other participants along the way have included Safeway, CIBC and Best Buy Canada/Future Shop.
Bringing Women Together provides benefits on three levels:
- Benefits for Guests: BWT provides a prestigious event for professional women from across different industries to connect and network. In addition to the networking opportunity, it is a one of a kind opportunity to listen to and learn from renowned and successful female speakers, who have made their mark and set a great example for those following in their footsteps. Whether you are someone straight out of school, or a veteran in your industry, you are bound to walk away with some food for thought. It is a truly inspiring experience.
- Benefits for Members/Volunteers: The event is 100% volunteer run, where volunteers are brought forward from the participating sponsor organizations. Being a volunteer for Bringing Women Together gives members an opportunity to:
- create a prestigious event alongside other professionals,
- provide a venue for women to share their knowledge and skills with others,
- take on out-of-role responsibilities promoting skills growth in ways that they may not be able to through their day-to-day jobs,
- achieve a tangible sense of accomplishment.
- Benefits for Companies: Sponsoring companies gain marketing exposure, support their female employees’ professional and personal growth, and support diversity objectives.
In the past three years, the event has had great success – great reviews from the organizers, speakers, and guests. The post-event surveys have consistently reported positive reviews regarding the organization, theme, content, speakers, and overall experience of the event. BWT has maintained a high standard over the years by bringing in quality speakers at prestigious venues. Additionally, Bringing Women Together has proven to be a well-run event as the event has consistently come on budget through the dedicated work of all the volunteers.
Due to its consistent success and positive reviews there is a resounding energy to move this initiative forward and expand the strategic scope. Currently, some key members of the core sponsor companies are coming together as a governance team working on a strategic plan to address the future scope of BWT, to initiate year-round volunteer involvement. The scope options that will be reviewed include: increasing the number of sponsor companies, expanding to other regions/provinces, and determining other meaningful options that can Bring Women Together that are not just event based. To further support this strategic direction, the 2014 event will market test various ticket structures, allowing BWT to market to new audiences (including women from other companies and smaller businesses). The results will be included in informing the governance committee on future scope options.
This strategic governance structure will continue to drive the vision and ensure the continued success of Bringing Women Together by:
- implementing year round planning to support the effort that is required to organize an event of this caliber,
- focusing on turnover in volunteer staff and knowledge transfer,
- defining a more sustainable sponsorship model,
- creating a speaker community that can support the annual BWT event and other BWT opportunities.
Bringing Women Together is an inspiring event whether you are just attending for the one evening, or you are involved throughout the entire organizational process. This year’s theme is on “Leading & Inspiring Change,” featuring some notable women from Vancouver – Christie Whitley, President and CEO of the Dalai Lama Center, who will be speaking on heart-mind learning; Stephanie Corker, People Brand Strategy Director of lululemon, who will be speaking about everyday leadership; and last but not least, Barbara Brink, C.M., O.B.C.,Vice President of Applied Strategies Ltd., who will be speaking about the importance of giving back.
I hope you will join us at the 4th Annual Bringing Women Together event on March 6th, 2014 at 5pm at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. We look forward to meeting you there!
If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, why wait? Get yours now at bwt2014.eventbrite.ca