The Role of the IFA Women’s Franchise Committee in Franchising
With 20 chapters throughout the country, the committee inspires female sector leaders to share wisdom and leadership with female franchisees, franchisors and suppliers throughout the year.
By Nancy Bigley, CFE
The mission of the IFA Women’s Franchise Committee is to “empower leaders in franchising by promoting women’s participation in the industry and providing international networking opportunities for the exchange of ideas, resources, and experiences.” The committee does this in three primary ways:
The committee focuses on achieving its leadership empowerment goal by hosting an amazing five-hour Leadership Conference every year at the IFA Convention. This conference consistently achieves the top ratings of any program at the convention as evidenced by sold-out numbers this past January.
The successful results have allowed the committee to secure some of the top franchise leaders in IFA to speak at the conference. One of the main goals is to find those leaders who have had ups and downs in their leadership so they can bring those raw and real learnings to the group. This type of approach allows for some solid takeaway value for the group and, in many cases, is what keeps leaders from across the franchising spectrum coming back year after year.
The committee’s 2017 goal is to continue to spread the word that the Leadership Conference is not just for women, but for anyone looking to become a stronger leader. The 2017 conference was sold out and we’re certainly looking to beat those numbers in 2018.
Local Women’s Franchise Network Meetings
The committee strives to carry annual Leadership Conference messages throughout the year at the local level via our Women’s Franchise Network meetings. There are currently 20 chapters throughout the country where inspiring female franchise leaders coordinate, bringing wisdom and leadership to female franchisees, franchisors and suppliers throughout the year. It’s also a great way to visit other franchise locations as the meetings are often hosted at a franchise company’s headquarters.
Through our Women’s Franchise Network meetings, the committee has coordinated with the Dress for Success Organization to help young leaders in the local markets prepare themselves for their careers. The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. We feel these are our next business leaders and we want to be a part of supporting them in any way we can.
Doing more to raise awareness
Women are incredible leaders who can — and do — add tremendous value to any organization. Thus, everyone being mindful of how you can bring along and guide other female leaders is a huge step. We can raise the level of female leadership by setting the right example and being more mindful of creating opportunities for them to flex their muscles. A strong woman in a leadership role who pays it forward and helps mentor other female leaders is invaluable. We all need help along the way, so the more mentors that are available (male or female), the stronger the franchise community will become and be able to powerfully contribute. Everyone can make a difference here.
Females in the workforce looking to advance their careers should look for ways to help themselves. Dedicate time for your personal development. Meet new leaders, both men and women, whom you can mentor and who can mentor you in your growth and goals. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, guidance and mentorship. You’d be surprised how willing leaders in franchising are to help. I’m a huge advocate of giving back your time to those who need you, even if you don’t have the time to give. Eventually, it will come back around and I find that when I mentor someone, I always walk away with good nuggets for myself.
How other IFA members can get involved
Three key ways: First, come to the Leadership Conference at every convention and bring key members of your team. The takeaways will most certainly come back to your organization tenfold. Second, participate at a local level if you have a chapter near you. It’s such a great way to keep your networking and leadership skills alive and growing throughout the year. Offer to host a Women’s Franchise Network event at your headquarters; the committee is always looking for new venues. Finally, if you’re a female leader and have an interest in serving on our committee in the future, please contact IFA, get an application and complete it.
The Women’s Franchise Committee is strong, committed and works very hard to achieve its annual goals. People are expected to show up and work hard on every call, so the committee’s selection process is rigid and the list of applicants is long (it took me two tries to get a spot on the committee). But, committee members also have a lot of fun and have created lasting friendships. If you have the drive to participate, complete the application, show up at local Women’s Franchise Network events and conferences, and let us know you have a passion to contribute, and we’ll find a way to get you more involved.
Nancy Bigley, CFE, is CEO of Bottle & Bottega and Chair of the IFA Women’s Franchise Committee.