PWN Global Presidents’ Blog: Leveraging Technology to Grow Inclusion

February 16, 2022by Carina furlong0

Take a moment to imagine what the world would look like if we did not have this amount of technology at our immediate disposal, keeping business going as usual?

Throughout the CoVid19 pandemic, we have witnessed companies, governments and entrepreneurs moving from an offline world to an almost 100% online environment. Being physically distanced from one another created an immediate necessity to collaborate and deliver in an online world with an agility not previously seen in such proportions. In one European survey, about 70 percent of executives from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland said the pandemic is likely to accelerate the pace of their digital transformation.

The pace of change is already evident across many business sectors and geographies.

The one thing that has become clear in 2020 is how technology has facilitated PWN Global to continue delivering excellent service to its members, and also enabled an increase in the connections between our different City Networks.

PWN Global is a volunteer-led, member based organisation, focusing on accelerating gender balanced leadership in business and society. Our organisation consists of over 3000 members, representing over 90 nationalities in 29 city networks, predominantly based in the major cities in Europe. Our members connect via physical events (pre-CoVid we delivered, on average, 1000 events per year) and via our bespoke online member platform. Our broader community engages with us via our social channels. The physical events provided by our City Networks include a varied mix of networking sessions and learning and development events, such as our mentoring and entrepreneurial programs.

For the past four years, recognizing the need for flexible content delivery that can be consumed by its members, as and when they need and want it, PWN Global has been building a solid series of webinars. This has been built into a comprehensive knowledge hub with over 70 hours of high-quality content, accessible to members via our member platform.

Innovation During Covid19 Lockdown.

In a short period, like many membership organisations, our local City Networks had to convert all events and meetings into virtual sessions. Most of our networks were able to do so, and with the strong collaboration between City Networks and the facilitation of our federation board colleagues and staff, it was successfully done. We are extremely proud to see how our entire network has dug in deep to help one other to overcome this situation, learn new skills and continue delivering great experiences to our members.

The result….

PWN Global has become a truly global experience. Joining numerous city network webinars and informal networking online meet ups, we noticed a significant shift. Whereas with our physical events we tend to see only members from the local area, online events made it easy for members to join any event, hosted by any city network. Online events in Paris, Barcelona, Stockholm, or Istanbul are now just one click away. The boundaries between countries that have physically separated us have melted into insignificance. Our members are benefitting as they are experiencing online events delivered by city networks (other than their ‘own’). They are experiencing the power of connecting, learning, sharing resources with colleagues from outside their local city network – offering a real cross fertilization of networking opportunities. It is amazing to watch and experience the level of connections that are happening within our community, bringing us both joy.

What has been highlighted is the importance of your network in times of crisis, from an operational, personal and strategic point of view. The value of a global network has never been more important. We spoke with many of our colleagues during the last four months, in a variety of locations, and this helped us to stay connected to our members and support our thinking on how to lead our network through this crisis and come out the other side – stronger than ever.

On a personal note, the support we have received from our Federation Board colleagues, City Network Presidents and our broader community has been the light that has gotten us through some very intense times.

At the start of our presidential mandate we knew that our network’s future success would depend on ensuring a robust use of available technology. Given the complexity of our federal operating model and the work that needed to be done regarding governance and policies, we knew that technology would be the defining factor in our sustainability and growth.

We are currently in a process of looking at creating an improved online platform for our community, ensuring sustainable growth for the future, allowing our members to be more connected than ever, and increasing their user experience. Given the challenging circumstances and the resources we have, as a team, will use our collective creativity and innovation capabilities to grow our virtual community with all the support we can leverage.

Technology is core to PWN Global, and with technology comes responsibility to make sure technology will not become a burden or a threat.

We delivered a Diversity Lab in Dublin in 2019 on the theme of, ‘Capitalising on the Digital Era to Drive Gender Balance.’ Diversity Labs are intimate round table sessions where senior decision makers come together to listen to a brief presentation on insights into the best practices from organisations that we have worked with around the world. During the last session in Dublin, we had rich conversations on the business impact of digitization, what it means for women, and how women are increasing their digital fluency.

Ideas captured during ‘Capitalizing on the Digital Era to Drive Gender Balance.’ Dublin, November 2019

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Given that the pandemic continues, it’s likely that our next Diversity Lab will be a virtual one. We are currently looking at various delivery models to ensure that we maintain the intimacy and excellence of delivery for these events. Stay tuned for more information in the coming months.

We don’t claim to be there yet, but we are confident that PWN Global will become stronger despite the impact of this pandemic. By growing our technological capability, we will enable a more inclusive environment for all our members in terms of the support we can provide.

Carina Furlong & Sheila Gemin Co-Presidents PWN Global

Carina furlong

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