Women in Channels: A Social and Economic Imperative

As a group, we ladies are responsible for USD7 trillion dollars in consumer and business spending in the United States alone, and USD20 trillion globally. When you also take into account that women make up 46.7 percent of the total workforce, we clearly have a huge role to play in influencing today’s global economy. Simply put, when we work together, we are a force to be reckoned with.

Moreover, we currently occupy 14.4 percent of the executive positions in today’s Fortune 500 companies. With the growth of social media, we have to explore how we can use traditional strategic resources combined with the new opportunities that social media and collaboration present for women who want to grow and develop their careers further in our industry.

With that thought in mind, we hosted a brainstorming and collaboration session we like to call “jams” at our well-attended session on Women in the Channel at the 2013 IBM PartnerWorld Leadership Conference. During the session, our attendees shared strategies for building professional networks, identifying job opportunities and even handling conflict, just to name a few. We also started a LinkedIn community for women specifically interested in PartnerWorld to continue the dialog we started at the meeting.

IBM PartnerWorld Women’s Network

As a company, IBM is very interested in helping women grow and develop professionally. Joining the IBM PartnerWorld Women’s Network on LinkedIn is a great way to initiate discussion and expand your social network, as it’s a subcommunity within the Women in the Channel LinkedIn group. I believe the time is right for all women in the channel to explore what we can do together, how we can learn from each other and what opportunities are in front of us.

2012-2013 Advancing Women at IBM Executive Research Study

An example of the IBM emphasis on encouraging women leaders is the 2012-2013 Advancing Women at IBM Executive Research Study, in which 639 female IBM executives participated from around the world. The study paints a clear picture of how these women have grown their careers, illustrating common traits that can also be used by women in their own companies.

A valuable insight from the survey is that high job performance is important, but that it’s not enough on its own—visibility is equally important. This type of visibility is achieved through two key objectives:

  • To succeed in the executive ranks, you have to be willing to take on critical, visible roles that stretch you, develop you and provide an opportunity to demonstrate ongoing competence and leadership.
  • To maintain visibility and influence, you need to develop a strong network of business contacts who know your abilities and skills, and who are willing to make them visible to their peers.

Establish your social media presence

Regardless of whether you own a company, are already a C-level executive or are simply heading in that direction, mastering these common traits is vital. Promoting yourself both internally and externally can seem daunting at first, until you realize that social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook all offer relatively easy opportunities to find like-minded professionals, get more active in online discussions and groups, and then gradually and steadily build greater mindshare and influence among colleagues and customers.

Joining the IBM PartnerWorld Women’s Network is an excellent way to begin getting more involved with each other and with us here at IBM.  I would love to hear more directly from such an influential body of minds about how we can better serve our Business Partner community, as well as how we can work together to better serve our mutual clients. This subgroup of Women in Channels (WiC) is for women who are connected through IBM’s initiative at #ibmpwlc, and is here to support conversations among women of the channel in relation to IBM products and services.

How do you feel about women in the channel and the role IBM can play? Don’t forget to let me know by using the “Comments” feature below.

Jamie Mendez (@JAMENDEZ11)

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