A highly intriguing article made the rounds here this past week. Writing for the Harvard Business Review, author Shawn Achor asked with his headline, “Do Women’s Networking Events Move the Needle on Equality?”

In a remarkable reversal of Betteridge’s law of headlines, Achor concluded that yes, attending professional women’s events — like the 2018 Women & Automotive Canadian Leadership Forum, for example — makes a quantifiable positive impact on professional and emotional status, and much quicker than anyone might have previously imagined.

The article is very good, and we encourage you to read it once you have the chance. But here’s the long and short of it.

Achor and fellow author Michelle Gielan conducted a study of 2,600 women of various roles and industries attending the Conference for Women — “a series of nonprofits across [the US] that run conferences for women from all industries to talk about leadership, fairness and success.” They examined financial and intellectual outcomes over the course of the year after the women went to an event. Their control group was composed of women who signed up for an event, but not yet attended.

The results are quite stunning: 42% of women who attended the Conference for Women received a promotion within that yearlong period, compared to 18% of women in the control group. Furthermore, 15% of attendees received a pay raise of 10% or more within the same time period, compared to only 5% in the control.

Those are just the financial benefits.

Considering the intellectual outcomes, 78% of women attendees felt “more optimistic about the future” after the conference, and 71% said they “feel more connected to others.” And those numbers aren’t just Pollyanna cheeriness: Achor points out that social connectivity has been connected to life expectancy as much as other major factors like smoking, obesity and high blood pressure.

What can we take away from this?

According to the data, attending women’s networking events doubles your chance of promotion, triples your chance of a hefty raise and improves your mood so much, you’re likely to live longer because of it.

But let’s slow down a bit here. Of course, there’s a question of causation and correlation; even Achor leaves room for the point that possibly not every event holds potential for such long-term positive effects.

However, we believe Women & Automotive could be an example of one event that could.

Having spoken at 900-odd conferences over a dozen years, Achor lists these factors as keys to a fruitful event:

A sense of social connection felt by the attendees

Engaging sessions

Leaders who role-model and exemplify the qualities that the conference is attempting to instill

A memorable moment

A realistic assessment of the present with an optimistic look to the future

We might be a little more than simply biased, but we believe wholeheartedly that each iteration of Women & Automotive can tick each of those boxes.

Sure, Women & Automotive might take you away from work for a day. And it’s not like we all spill into the streets of Toronto for a feminist takeover of every male-dominated business in the country once the forum concludes.

But imagine those benefits above. Isn’t a day off from the job worth the gamble of an improved life? Isn’t it worth the steady, incremental change you already see affecting the business climate for the better?

It’s an old cliché — the whole idea of, “We girls gotta stick together!” But clichés arise from truth, and the truth is that unity and connectedness — the very crux of networking — are factors that lead to a better life for all.

If you have attended a past Women & Automotive Canadian Leadership Forum and witnessed positive benefits like those above in your life, consider writing us a wee testimonial! Either comment below or send an email to aharrison@sacherokee.com.

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