Leveraging women's networks for strategic value

Anne Donnellon (Associate Professor of Management and a co‐founder of the Center for Women's Leadership at Babson College (donnellon@babson.edu))
Nan Langowitz (Associate Professor of Management at Babson and was the founding director of the Center (langowitz@babson.edu))

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Publication date: 8 May 2009



Corporate women's networks have existed for more than 25 years, with varying results. Understanding how networks can be more effectively focused is important to talent management and professional development, particularly as women comprise an increasingly significant portion of the leadership pipeline. This study aims to provide new ways to assess and enhance the strategic value of women's networks in terms of both talent and business development.


The authors bring more than 40 years combined experience to their survey of women's networks in 32 multinational corporations. A structured interview protocol was followed to gain an in‐depth understanding of current women's network practice.


This paper describes the range of current practice in the implementation of women's networks and suggests new tools for understanding how a women's network is currently positioned and might be focused for greater strategic impact, both for network participants and for the firm.

Practical implications

Three tools are provided for assessing and potentially repositioning the focus and strategic objectives of women's networks in corporations. This paper should spur valuable discussion among network leaders as well as executive sponsors, diversity officers and CEOs about how to maximize network value; the tools are potentially transferable to other internal networks or affinity groups.


Many firms use well‐known turnkey tools to establish their women's network. This paper provides new tools targeted particularly to those networks and companies that are beyond the start‐up phase.



Donnellon, A. and Langowitz, N. (2009), "Leveraging women's networks for strategic value", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 29-36. https://doi.org/10.1108/10878570910954628

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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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