VShief, the exclusive women’s network open only to women vice presidents and above, has been called the “club with the waiting list of 60,000 women”. For individuals, her peer mentoring groups and online workshops with Amal Clooney or Michelle Obama come with an annual prize of $5,800+. Access to his glam “clubhouses” in cities like San Francisco and New York works even better.

But now, the Women Executives Network is launching a new offering for corporate clients that will not only expedite employers’ review of eligible female executives for membership, but will also automatically foot the bill for companies. Called Chief Enterprise, the new service could lead to substantial growth in the Series B-funded membership network, provided employers don’t cut spending on diversity commitments or funding leadership initiatives. in times of economic downturn. (The leader says eligible members can usually join between four and six weeks after applying; many of those who applied but weren’t accepted don’t meet seniority or geographic requirements.)

While companies have a long history of reimbursing executives for joining Chief, they typically do so in a “reactive” way. says Carolyn Childers, co-founder and CEO of Chief, sponsor executives who joined upon request.

By offering the network as a perk instead, Childers said Forbes in an exclusive interview, the company is able to show “‘I want to support you, I want to invest in you’ at a time when more women than ever are leaving work.” She says “over 90% of women say they would stay with a company if they were just invested. Just move from a reactive to a proactive approach [approach] gives such a good signal.

The enterprise product, which will launch on Tuesday, has been tested with a handful of major employers, including UnitedHealth Group, Morgan Stanley and IBM. Women leaders who become members through their companies will have access to the same benefits as regular members, which include a small group of vetted peers who meet monthly, workshops with big name names like Melinda French Gates or l former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and access to physical clubs in four major cities.

Childers says women will not be placed in peer groups – the “core” mentorship groups of the leader of women at similar levels in their careers – with people who work for the same company, to allow women to openly share the professional and personal struggles they encounter. Face. Indeed, Chief’s external network may be more attractive to female executives than current internal leadership development initiatives where concerns or difficulties may fall back to senior executives.

“It’s really hard to talk about your leadership challenges confidentially in the company,” says Childers. “It’s almost impossible to really feel like you can have this authentic conversation about what you’re struggling with.”

Companies, meanwhile, will receive quantitative insights into their female leaders’ use of the network, the ability to suggest Chief activities related to company goals, and possibly the possibility of tailored programming. For larger employers, Chief will offer price reductions.

Chief launched in 2019, pivoting during the pandemic to focus less on physical spaces and taking its members nationwide earlier this year. Thanks to investments from General Catalyst and CapitalG, its membership grew by 100% between January and December 2022, even as coworking spaces like the Wing closed in August. A company spokeswoman would not comment on Chief’s finances.

Asked about launching a corporate offering in the midst of a downturn — a time that typically hits employee training and development budgets — Childers suggests she’s not worried. “We have seen this investment continue,” she says. “Companies always really want to make sure they’re investing in their leadership. Even when they’ve had to make tough decisions, it’s actually more important than ever to support those left behind as they face additional challenges.

Rather, Chief’s biggest challenge will be to ensure that the diversity expected by members in their “core” peer groups remains high, as she adds, say, hundreds of new female members of a single employer. “It’s the thing we spend the most time on,” Childers says. “That’s why we’re trying very methodically to build Chief and not just open it up to anybody.”

Morgan Stanley chief executive Penny Novick, who joined less than a year ago – the company has sponsored more than two dozen women as chief members – says it’s one of the most great advantages of the network. Being part of a peer group with people outside of your company or industry is “really necessary,” she says. “I think if I was in a band and there were others I knew directly or indirectly, I would probably be less willing to be so open.”

Joining through Morgan Stanley, rather than having to search for membership itself, says Novick, has been a nice perk, who “tells their employees, ‘Here’s another way to help you invest effectively in yourself. ‘ I think that’s really important.

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