BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Working Women Helping Women Work

Posted by YWM on March 28, 2012

by Barbara Henton, Chair, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation Board of Trustees

For nearly one hundred years, the women of the BPW/USA and Business and Professional Women’s Foundation (BPW Foundation) have been dedicated to advancing the cause of our nation’s working women.  As Women’s History Month comes to a close, it provides us an opportunity to reflect on our accomplishments, as well as an opportunity to reconcile our mission with our goals moving forward.

We began in 1919 as BPW/USA, on the heels of World War I, with a mission from the government to “coordinate identification of women’s available skills and experience.”  Since then, we have consistently provided education, outreach, and opportunity for advocacy on issues that affect working women.  In 1956, we strengthened our efforts by establishing BPW Foundation, the first non-profit research and education institution of national scope solely dedicated to the cause of working women.  In 2009, BPW/USA and BPW Foundation merged to become one powerhouse organization of working women helping women work.

I joined BPW/USA in 1984,  because it was more than just an organization where women could come together to network and have fun…it was an organization that focused on advocacy issues related to working families.  I have been proud to be a part of our efforts ever since. I began my career as a schoolteacher, but gave up that job to be with my husband as he was called to duty in the US Army. I was a military spouse for two years…just enough time to know what it is like to live on a military base, find a job in an area where you don’t know anyone, and the need to start over once the military service is completed.  As a result of these experiences, I have much admiration for the women and men who serve our country and their families. I am very proud of our organization’s outreach to help both veterans and military spouses.

My personal experiences have provided me with first-hand knowledge of the significant impact an organization like BPW Foundation can have on the lives of working women.  We are effective because we reach out to working women, identify the issues that matter, conduct the data-driven research to back up our positions, and provide opportunities for working women to self-advocate in ways that make a difference.  We continue to succeed because we are not stagnant – we are consistent in our outreach efforts, but always evolving to achieve maximum impact.

Over the past several years, BPW Foundation has been working to champion women veterans in their efforts to succeed in civilian careers.  This year, we launched a new program, Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus™, to facilitate the career development of those women who have given so much of their lives and their loves to protect our freedom: women veterans and military wives.

BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ was conceived and developed to address the critical ongoing need for informed, committed mentors to position and assist women veterans and military spouses as they search for new employment, hone their career goals, and package their military skills and experiences to put them on the road to successful careers.  First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden acknowledged this “mentorship gap” when they recognized BPW Foundation’s mentoring initiative as part of the White House’s national Joining Forces effort.

I am confident about this program’s success; because, like everything else we do at BPW Foundation, we have done our homework.  Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ builds upon the research and experience of effective mentoring programs that have successfully impacted the lives of many.  Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ is focusing on helping thousands of women veterans and military wives by connecting them with volunteer working women mentors over a sustained period of time.  Veteran and civilian mentors of all ages across the country will provide insight, advice, and encouragement to help women veterans and military wives steer an individualized course of action in the civilian workplace.

The structure of Joining Forces Mentoring Plus™ will enable mentors and mentees to work together to design and develop the goals and benchmarks for mentee employment plans.  A rich library of online resources along with a cadre of subject matter experts will assist mentees in areas that affect workplace attainment, adjustment, retention, and/or supplier chain participation for small businesses.  With this capacity to guide women veterans in their job searches and career development, we will initially pair 1,800 mentees with mentors with a goal of 10,000 mentoring relationships in the next three years.  Ultimately, we will engage partners toward a widening target of 100,000 mentoring relationships, recognizing that more than 150,000 women are projected to leave the military over the next five years and join the more than 1.8 million existing women veterans who have proudly served our nation.

BPW Foundation’s long history of women helping women allows us to leverage the experience, expertise and resources of women in the workplace, to benefit those who have made so many personal and family sacrifices to protect our freedom: women veterans and military wives.  And so, BPW Foundation is carrying on in the tradition of nearly one hundred years of history: working women helping women work.

Meet two of our Joining Forces Mentoring Plus mentees and one of our mentors in this piece that appeared on the NBC Nightly News.

Learn how to become a mentee, mentor or subject matter expert.

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