Women’s Networking Community (WNC)
Several female leaders at our company recognized the need for a community that would provide career development, inspiration and networking opportunities for women across and outside the company.
They formed the Palo Alto Networks Women’s Networking Community (WNC) that has a steering committee comprised of 11 senior women leaders across the organization who helped kick-start the group by defining the mission and driving membership, events, activities, annual budgeting and planning.
The mission: Create a community that supports and fosters the growth and impact of women by connecting, inspiring, educating and encouraging them to become their best self through personal and professional development, networking and community involvement. While the focus is on encouraging women, we are an inclusive community, and all employees are welcome.
Actions that have helped the community thrive include:
- Representation from all departments of the organization on the founding team.
- Establishing an agreed-upon mission at the outset of the community’s development.
- Securing executive sponsorship.
- Frequently soliciting and responding to feedback from community members.
- Including volunteerism in program.
- Experimenting to identify effective mechanisms for ongoing awareness.
We received support from our company’s top executives and have multiple c-level executive sponsors, including strong male advocates and supporters of women who are great leaders and who know how to pave the way for the high growth and engagement of both women and men.
As of May 2017, we have over 300 active members in the WNC. We consistently achieve 25% member participation in hosted events. To further increase membership, we promote the community in our new hire onboarding and internal communications vehicles. Member survey results underscore the positive impact of the community and we continue striving to expand participation.