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Three New Year’s Resolutions for Forté—and Your Calls to Action

elissa-sangsterI’m inspired as I reflect on the Forté network’s progress in advancing women in business in 2015—and consider our goals for 2016.

Today, we’re more than 70,000 individual members—and 90 plus sponsors—strong.

In November, Forté announced a record-high number of U.S. member schools reporting 35% or more women enrolled in full-time MBA programs, and an encouraging jump in the percentage of MBA women enrolled since 2011. We also recapped key Forté initiatives intended to help close gender gaps in business careers and MBA programs, including millions in scholarship dollars for promising women.

This is all worthy of celebration, and I want to set us up for success in 2016. In that spirit, I’m sharing Forté’s three New Year’s resolutions—and your calls to action—to push us all.

Resolution #1: Encourage College Women to Think of Business as a Career Destination

To get more women in the c-suite and on boards, we must motivate college women to consider business careers. As a result, Forté is increasing our focus on undergraduates. In 2016, we’ll expand two Forté initiatives to best reach women at this stage. This will include continued implementation of our “Rising Star” pilot initiative to help undergraduate women become well-informed about their career options, and to compete for top jobs. Since its introduction on 10 U.S. campuses in September 2015, we’ve welcomed more than 650 women into this program and recruitment continues. Secondly, knowing there’s a significant gap in the number of women pursuing finance careers, we’ll expand our new Forté College Fast Track to Finance Conference to a second city. In offering similar programming to nearly 600 MBA women, 60% of select participant classes went on to work in financial services or corporate finance, and 40% in consulting, consumer packaged goods, entrepreneurship, or technology.

Resolution #2: Expand Our Gender Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Efforts to Reach More Students and Men

As detailed in a recent Forté Business 360⁰ Blog post, we also want to reach both women and men earlier in the pipeline with gender D&I information and keep them engaged in related efforts throughout their careers. Our “Men as Allies” toolkit is one resource we plan to launch online in 2016. Forté is interviewing select schools with “manbassadors,” or similar groups of men who are dedicated to gender D&I efforts on campus and beyond, to gather insights for the toolkit. It’s intended to inform other schools about the creation, mechanics, and obstacles of existing groups so they can start others.

Resolution #3: Find New Ways to Plan for Forté’s Future

As Executive Director, I’m ultimately accountable for thinking and acting strategically to ensure Forté’s future is just as bright as that of the women we support. I’m proud of how forward-looking our team remains while staying dedicated to the day-to-day success of so many existing initiatives. Thanks to our most recent five-year strategic plan, the size of Forté’s organization has doubled—both in terms of revenue as well as team members, especially as we add staff to broaden our undergraduate outreach. In 2016, Forté’s Board of Directors will launch a new strategic planning process to examine ways to further strengthen our work with younger women, our efforts around the world, and much more.

Your Calls to Action

All of these efforts will accelerate Forté’s progress. The reality is, we’ll go much faster with the support of our 70,000 members as individuals. So, what can you do?

  1. Think creatively about the women in your network and pick at least three professionals you will encourage to take the next step in their business careers. And please expand that thinking beyond female direct reports and colleagues who are already touched by your job responsibilities. You may have a son, for example, but his female friends can also learn from your business career.
  2. Email future@fortefoundation.org to share your top suggestion of something new Forté could offer to help women succeed in business. Please also add your name, title, and any company/school affiliations to your message. We’ll compile all of the submissions for our team’s discussion. Will you suggest our next big initiative?

On behalf of the entire Forté team, we wish you continued success in 2016. Thank you for turning to Forté as you set, pursue, and achieve your goals—and, just as importantly, as you strive to help other women do the same. Together, we will turn it up!

Top 2016 Career Resolution: Twitter Poll Results
Here are the results of our @fortefoundation poll:Forté asks: What’s your top 2016 career resolution?17%: Pursue a degree

25%: Network more

42%: Get a promotion

16%: Help women advance

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