NYWSE: Training women to be effective intrapreneurs
In coverage of social innovation, entrepreneurs get most of the play. But intrapreneurs—employees who innovate within organizations—are key drivers of change, too. With this in mind, New York Women Social Entrepreneurs (NYWSE) launched a program earlier this year to help women become effective changemakers in their workplaces.
The six-month training program, dubbed ESL (for Emerging Sustainability Leaders), aimed to provide five professional women with the skills they need to promote environmental sustainability at their companies, which included Consolidated Edison, the New School, and a New York law firm.
On a recent Saturday in New York City, the women came together at a graduating luncheon at the New School to present action plans based on what they’d learned. In opening remarks, ESL program director Shari Aaron said, “We may want to make change, but a lot of times inside large companies we just don’t get that opportunity. So this program was about how you make change.”
The women presented their plans to an expert panel that included John Clinton, a professor of management and urban policy at the New School, and Caren Mintz, who leads the sustainability efforts of Polo Ralph Lauren.
Some key takeaways from the panel’s feedback included:
- Tie action plans into company political agendas and overall strategy
- Establish metrics and milestones from the get-go. Benchmarking allows you to indicate progress, cost-savings and value to stakeholders.
- Form company green teams and start with low-hanging fruit.
- Create intra-office campaigns to drive out styrofoam cups, encourage carpooling and turn off computers at night. Incentivize, rather than penalize, employee participation.
- Great Intrapreneurs in Business History: Read this b-net article to find out who invented the Post-it Note (hint: neither Romy nor Michele) and other stories.
- Here come the intrapreneurs: Check out our coverage of Vodaphone intrapreneurs Susie Lonie and Nick Hughes, who started the company’s M-PESA program.
Natalia Oberti Noguera, Founder & CEO of Pipeline, a social venture that will house the program going forward (under a new name, “TBL Accelerator,” as in “Triple Bottom Line”) sums up the value of the program this way: “I believe we taught critical skills that a leader needs to have: change management, adaptability, learning how to state the business case, communication, engaging different stakeholders, organizational savvy.”