Women-Led Social Enterprises: Not for the Spineless Nice To-Do\'s
posted on Sunday, November 01, 2009 09:13 PM
Ogunte is an organisation that develops female social innovators, women who have sustainable development at heart. They might be social entrepreneurs, activists, volunteers, members of micro, small and larger companies or public organisations.
Ogunte’s sister company “Global Tribal Network” promotes a culture of mutual support and learning, and the creation of viable and sustainable marketing collectives among the members. Principally based in London, members connect from as far as Brazil, Canada, Europe, New Zealand and Australia.
We invite women to stop for a second and look at how they can be even greater catalysts of progress and connectedness in the communities of their choice and, when possible, in collaboration with men too!
During our networking and learning events we see a lot of women talking about their achievements as if they were doing this on behalf on their gender. Why not, it’s their choice. But it’s a heavy responsibility! What is important to us is their attitude, beliefs and talent, and specifically, the way they influence their work environment, their stakeholders, their communities.
We believe it is in this way that women make social enterprise what it is today - and that there is potential for more. Women could be even more influential if and when they...
- Talk boldly about their vision in a way that embeds their core values
- Clearly define these core values and the indicators of success
- Prove that they have a viable proposition (financial, strategic, operational)
- Can clearly demonstrate what change took place…
In our work with women social innovators, we have noticed six recurrent core domains. These six domains are worth embracing as a cognitive journey, to understand behaviour, talents, attitudes, past achievements, and to shape future plans.
Our objective is to take women through this simple journey to harness their skills and build opportunities.
As we go, we really insist on seeing the evidence with which women demonstrate and measure their progress. But what hinders a lot of female social entrepreneurs is the illusion that soft outcomes are “difficult” to measure. Things such as confidence, empowerment, well-being…
Yet, that is what a lot of women specialise in, sell and promote.
How do they know they have any influence on their communities, how do they know they make a real impact if they can’t demonstrate or measure the change?
We argue that all things are measurable, and all knowledge is manageable. We also argue that outcomes such as people empowered to make life decisions, healthier and happier young people are not “soft” but rather “outcomes of substance” that are essential to the way that people operate in the world.
Step by step, we invite women to reflect on connectedness and collaboration, on their social impact and their contribution to this impact, their growth in confidence, their visibility and leadership, their sense of learning, and their viability.
We are aware that these domains overlap, feed and complement each other. This is how we define each one of them:
• Social Impact: the difference or change made as a result of you carrying out your work.
• Connectedness and collaboration: the way in which you interact and build relationships with others to achieve mutual goals
• Growth in Confidence: your capacity to overcome obstacles and gain assurance
• Visibility and leadership: where and HOW you bring your message across (internally and externally)
• Sense of learning: the way you make use of reflection and inspiration for yourself and others
•: the evidence of how you manage your resources and subsequently create value
We then explore how all this makes sense compared to other individuals, other organisations and wider campaigns. Personal benchmarking is a crucial step to ensure women make sense of their values, their ideas and ability, and their progress to come, in a meaningful context. It also helps to prioritise what really matters (we all have limited time and resources) and opens up opportunities to effectively share and learn with others.
To ensure these elements are always considered and valued across our work we use this process in recruitment, learning and evaluation, as initial organisational health-checks, as business and executive coaching introductory tool. We also use it to assess candidates of the Ogunte Women’s Social Leadership Awards and to recruit our internal team!
Social enterprise isn’t for the spineless nice-to-do’s but rather for the bold and the brave change-makers – and women are leading the way. To make sure the substance and significance of work is seen and heard we are determined to help show and demonstrate the value of women’s achievements, and build strong connections for learning and future opportunities!