Started by Francesca Thorne (Founder and CEO of Australian Womens Network) aims to bring together an extensive network of successful women. To provide resources for women to enable them to reach their full potential and achieve ‘greatness’ through structured networking events and learning opportunities. AWN is focused on creating a better Australia through diversity and inclusion, but its principal focus in the short term is on gender equality and achieving parity in the workplace. To this end, the AWN is combining with other recognised Business Leaders (women, men and youth) across all industries, who share their passion through their extensive Ambassador network.
The AWN recognised the tide is changing and that gender parity is improving with more female representation on company boards and women in c-level executive roles. However, there is still much more to be done. AWN plays a pivotal role in championing the cause, by bringing women together in a supportive and collaborative network environment, where women share and learn from each other. In addition to providing a strong and supportive network. AWN seeks to equip its members with continual learning experiences and resources.
This platform provides members with tangible capabilities and skills they can put into place, within their own organisation’s and in every aspect of their daily lives. By doing this, the AWN creates a “strong women”, who are empowered to champion, not only their own aspirations and goals, but the broader gender parity cause in the community, corporate world and beyond.
AWN Points of Difference
The Australian Womens Network’s aspiration is to achieve gender parity and inspire women to achieve greatness, in whatever form they desire. The AWN differentiates itself from other existing women’s networks because:
- Australian Womens Network’s targeted demographic is c-level Executives, including CEOs, Executive Directors and Directors of all type of organisations. The AWN is focused on bringing women together in a non-competitive, supportive network, for them to share learnings, experiences and create far reaching networks, which enable self-growth. In addition, the AWN seeks to partner with women to enable them to drive cultural change within the organisations they are affiliated.
- The AWN actively includes men and other constituent groups (i.e. youth) as part of our network. Many of the women’s networks that currently exist, do not include men or other constituent groups as part of the change agenda. The AWN believe that driving successful change will require men/youth to be champions of change, spearheading the agenda; and we wholeheartedly welcome their support and mentoring.
- The AWN is an early stage organisation and willing to work with partners who share our vision to achieve change. The AWN was formed in late 2014. Whilst growing rapidly in terms of membership and network reach, the AWN is still in a formative stage. We are also of the belief that many voices sharing the same vision, will allow us to enact greater change.
- The AWN networks has extensive international reach. We have extensive networks into USA, Asia and beyond through our Ambassador Network. We are actively seeking to expand our network into these regions as many Australian-headquarter organisations seek to drive international expansion and nd growth.
- The AWN is inclusive. Whilst our targeted demographic is c-level (Executives/Directors/CEO’s) of all types of organisations; we believe we have a role to play in furthering and launching the careers of the next generation of women in the workplace too. Accessibility to networks, mentoring and resources through structured learning opportunities, we believe this will help elevate today’s junior graduates/executives/front-line managers and staff to the next stage of their career. To help enable this objective, we have made our membership price accessible to all.
How Will We Achieve Success
The main ways we expect to pursue our agenda include:
Our Key Summits
The purpose of the Women’s Business Summit is twofold. It is our principal networking event and is open to members and non-members. It aims to bring together women in a daylong event. Secondly, the women’s business summit provides an exceptional learning opportunity, with key note speeches, a panel and breakout sessions run by some of the most prominent business women in Australia. The first event was held in April 2016 in Melbourne and consisted of both the Business Summit followed by the Blue Frost Gala Ball (open to men and women). The women’s business summit saw over 500 women attend, including Executive Directors/Directors and CEOs across a broad range of industries, as well as Federal and State Government representatives.
The Leadership Academy is both an online portal and a live platform that features industry thought leaders. The Leadership Academy features events that companies may already be running that is open to other senior executives to attend (eg: AIM/VU) – we provide another platform for them to market these events (given our demographic is highly targeted at c-suite executives). The Leadership Academy will also feature Directors who have created specific events, based on the needs and or requests of other Executives and CEO’s. It will also present who are seeking specific capability and development from recognised experts. The events may be live and or remote or prerecorded (eg: webinars/podcasts). The Leadership Academy will be run all across Australia and eventually internationally. Partnering with leading organisations, business leaders and Members of Parliament to be active thought leaders.
Champions of Change Event (held annually)
We are currently working on our first Champions of Change Summit to be held in November each year. The Champion of Change summit will be focused on: Bringing together respected male change agents as guests of women, who are currently helping to champion the advance of gender parity within their workplaces. Sharing learning and successes from both men and women on ways in which inclusion can help improve culture and elevate business outcomes. We need more decent, powerful men to step up beside women in building a gender equal world.
Youth Forum (held bi-annually)
Initially targeting 13 – 18 year old’s, the purpose of this event is to engage the next generation of leaders, on why diversity and inclusion is necessary. This will also show how it can lead to successes. This event is anticipated for late 2017.
Blue Frost Gala Ball (held bi-annually)
Blue Frost Gala Ball is the AWN’s major philanthropic event. It brings together our network, ambassadors and partners, in a fun and relaxing way. Components of all ticket sales are donated to a nominated beneficiary, in addition to proceeds raised from raffle tickets, silent and live auctions.