The Commonwealth Institute, the region’s top organization supporting women’s leadership, today announced that it has changed its name to “The Women’s Edge,” reflecting a strategic plan to expand the scope of its programs, membership base and geographic footprint. The new name also highlights the positive impact women have in the workplace and the continued need to advocate for women in leadership positions in all sectors of corporate America.
Since its founding by Lois Silverman in 1997, The Women’s Edge has evolved from a C-suite level network for women in business to a comprehensive women’s leadership organization with formal mentoring and leadership development programs, research and an annual program promoting the region’s top women led businesses. It has also significantly expanded its corporate partnership model, providing learning and development support and programs to numerous businesses focused on developing and retaining women leaders.
“In every organization there are women who have the ability to make a difference,” said founding member Lois Silverman. “We need to believe in the power we have; we need to concentrate on helping others; and we need to embrace the fact that we are women and that the way we manage is good for business.”
During the past 25 years, The Women’s Edge has had a transformational impact on the careers of thousands of women, offering leadership development programs, honoring Top 100 Women Led Businesses and leading several Women’s Leadership Impact studies with primary research and recommendations for corporations. In addition, the organization now partners with dozens of businesses, providing an enduring resource for its women leaders.
“Though the fundamental mission remains the same – driving a competitive, creative and leading edge for women in business – the way that we approach that mission has expanded significantly, as has the audience we reach,” said Elizabeth Hailer, CEO. “This growth has been particular evident in the past five years, with the addition of our Impact Study in both Massachusetts and Florida and expanded participation in our leadership programs for women at all stages of their career. We needed a name that reflected this broader scope and created room to continue to evolve.”
Moving forward, the organization anticipates a period of agile growth, increasing its geographic reach by expanding its chapter model, exploring new leadership development programs, expanding membership opportunities, and continuing to grow its base of business partners and sponsors. The Women’s Edge plans to develop new leadership training and skills development programs consistent with evolving workplace needs.
At a time when women in the workplace were disproportionately impacted by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of companies investing in formal women’s leadership and development programs dropped precipitously. Only 40% of the respondents of the 2021 Impact study had formal goals associated with the development of women’s leadership.
“The Women’s Edge tackles inclusion, diversity and equity challenges head on with programs to develop women leaders in business,” said Pallavi Verma, senior managing director, Accenture. “More opportunities for career growth and advancement will emerge for women in general and women of color in particular by providing them with the leadership training and skills development they need to be successful.”
The name change reflects the input provided via multiple focus groups and member outreach that highlighted the organizations’ key strengths and areas of impact: supporting women’s career development, advocating for expanded roles for women in executive leadership and using data driven models to drive change.