Dear Forté Community:
2016 was a remarkable year for Forté. With a global network of 87,000 members, 40 sponsor companies, 50 graduate business schools, 20 undergraduate universities, and the support of more than 800 volunteers in 2016, Forté continued its impressive progress in support of our mission: to increase the number of women business leaders by providing knowledge about business careers and education, and facilitating opportunities for networking. Below are highlights from 2016, including exciting new initiatives, announcements, and existing program accomplishments.
What was new in 2016
Men as Allies: Engaging men in the gender equity conversation
Diversity experts – Anne Weisberg and Lisa Levey – and I launched Men as Allies in 2016. Through research and practical resources – including a toolkit to start male groups on MBA campuses – this initiative helps men navigate and benefit from involvement in gender equity issues.
MBAs on the Move: Showcasing role models for the next generation
In 2016, Forte launched “MBAs on the Move,” a campaign featuring young, high-achieving women role models. The 2016 campaign featured women from an array of industries who were based in or near New York City while this year’s focus is women located in the San Francisco Bay area.
Power Pitch: Witnessing the entrepreneurial spirit
The first-ever “Power Pitch” competition took place at the 2016 MBA Conference, and feedback revealed it to be a “must have” feature. Nineteen entries were submitted, four teams were selected as finalists, and one winner was chosen for her innovative business idea to address labor shortages and high recidivism rates.
Welcome aboard: Introducing Forté’s new development director
In November, Forté appointed a new Director of Development, Ana Duarte McCarthy. Ana has more than 30 years of experience in the areas of diversity and inclusion, and her entire career has been devoted to helping under-represented groups gain access to business opportunities.
Forté Connect: Expanding your network across the Forté community
Forté Connect is a new online community where members from across Forté’s network can meet or search for other members; join conversations; and learn about upcoming events. Forté Connect is available to three of Forté’s student groups (Forté Fellows; MBALaunch participants and alumnae; and undergraduate Rising Stars), but it will soon be available to the entire Forté membership.
Honor a Champion: Recognizing the people who made a difference in your life
Now you can help young women discover the rewards of a career in business and celebrate the people in your life who have helped your career journey. “Honor a Champion” allows contributors to give just $25 to Forté through its new donation category, “in honor of,” and the donor selects the recipient.
Virtual forums: “Meeting” business school representatives without the travel
These virtual forums familiarizing undergraduate students with the MBA, business schools and the application process were launched in April to high acclaim: 100% said the opportunity to “meet” representatives from Forte’s 50 business school sponsors was either valuable or extremely valuable.
Existing program achievements in 2016
2016 Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference: Turning it up
Held in Austin in June, the 2016 Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference – with a theme of “Let’s turn it up: Transform the power trip. Propel your career” – attracted close to 500 attendees. Lindsey Pollak, bestselling author, was opening keynote speaker. Rebecca Sholiton, a 2016 MBA graduate of Northwestern’s Kellogg School, won the Edie Hunt Inspiration Award for helping women achieve their business goals. Learn more about the 2017 Conference in Seattle this June.
Pre-MBA Forté Forums: Increasing attendance
Overall attendance at Pre-MBA Forté Forums, held in 12 cities across the country, grew 30 percent from 2015 to 2016. In some cities, the Forums were sold-out events, and several had significant registration growth, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Toronto with 66, 76 and 78 percent increases, respectively.
MBALaunch: Breaking application records
This structured, supportive program for women considering an MBA grew from 400 participants in 2015 to 500 in 2016. MBALaunch broke records in 2016 when 82 percent of attendees applied to graduate business schools. Jamie Kwak, current MBA at Chicago’s Booth School, described her MBALaunch experience: “My group members and I formed close friendships; exchanged tips and advice; studied together for the GMAT; and read each other’s essays to provide feedback. We completed the MBALaunch program back in 2014 and still keep in touch.”
Rising Stars: Rising participation
Undergraduate women participate in a series of career-preparatory, online activities to achieve “Rising Star” status for which they receive rewards. Six months after Rising Stars launched in the fall of 2015, 10 undergraduate schools participated and there were 1,100 registrants. The program now has 20 school partners and 1,600 undergraduates have registered.
Women-Lead webinars: Attracting renowned speakers
Nearly 2,500 members of the Forté community participated in these monthly, live webinars led by subject matter experts and business leaders. Noteworthy speakers included Marshall Goldsmith, Professor Francesca Gino, and Professor Jonah Berger.
Forté Fellows: Growing scholarship numbers
The program was created to increase the number of women applying to and enrolling in MBA programs by offering fellowships for MBA education at sponsor business schools. The average number of Forté Fellows per school grew in 2016 and, to date, schools have given nearly $110 million in scholarships to more than 5,000 Forté Fellows.
College Conferences: Adding value
Two conference series for college students – College to Business and College Fast Track to Finance – help women decide if a career in business is right for them. College Fast Track to Finance had a 20 percent increase in attendance from 2015 to 2016, and College to Business drew students from 121 different colleges and universities in 2016. One attendee said of the College to Business conference, “It was the best experience I’ve had outside of college.” Another described the conference coaches as “of the highest caliber and willing to help with anything.”
I am excited and proud of what we were able to accomplish together in 2016 and look forward to continuing to achieve great things for young women in 2017.