By word of mouth and through the strength of our membership and our members from clubs to the Executive. It appears that from our Conference (2010) our numbers overall have dropped and not just in NZ but in Australia too (but maybe for different reasons). We need also to understand that this is just not an issue within BPW but other women’s organisations in NZ have also noticed a drop in membership, one of the greatest surprises last year was the closing of the NZFGW (NZ Federation of Graduate Women) club in Auckland and they are based at the University! The questions to identify are why and how to make the change and to achieve this we need to understand the women whom we want to attract in becoming members to such a special organisation.
Understanding the women you want to attract. What are the demands of women today, well first we look at the different demographics that make up the women of NZ:
(a) Women of different ages, positions and experience:
- married women, single parents, career women, young women just starting out on their career paths
- mature women involved in community groups or family commitments,
- retired women, involved with community groups or are continuing their education through other groups
- different ethnic groups, immigrants with different expectations and requirements.
(b) Young women:
- who are looking for the ‘now returns’, what they can get and how it will best suit them,
- wanting strong networking facilities to strengthen and foster their own businesses,
- ‘loyalty’ to an employer is only as long as the employer recognises their worth and ensures their career development,
- these women may not work in the same job they started in when they left school, including their original career paths may have changed a number of times,
- young women, user of the technology age, easier for some to ‘socialise’ through mobile phones, texting, Facebook, twitter, emails, online chat groups etc than in a room of ‘strangers’.
(c) Career women:
- may marry or live in a partnership,
- look at how something will benefit their career advancements,
- travel, work long hours, mix with groups of the same interests.
(d) Working wives and mothers:
- the demands on these women’s lives are different again,
- have to share their time with work commitments and family responsibilities,
- involved in their children’s education and sporting activities,
- is a wife and partner,
- a friend, a sister, maybe a volunteer to a community group,
- a woman and individual, sometimes this is the last thing they remember about themselves.
- these women are committed to being there first for their family,
- will be involved in PTA’s or BoT’s at their children’s schools,
- possible teacher aids or volunteers at school and sport events,
- in sports committees, or coaches/managers of teams,
- consider themselves not ‘Business or Professional Women’.
(f) Rural versus City Women:
- different needs, access to facilities, travel and even their environment
- lifestyle block owners, different to farmers,
- employee different to employer.
So what does this tell us, there is a diverse range of women in our own communities with different needs and expectations, and this is only a glimpse that are uniquely NZ’ers. It is how we present and ‘sell’ BPW to them to attract their interest and future participation that will ensure the success of individual clubs and BPW NZ as a whole.
So what do I want from each club? This month you are requested to undertake a number of pro-active events, your participation and response is required for its success:
(i) note the 3 key things that are important for your club and email them through. Use a white board or paper and brainstorm for 5-10mins with your club members to identify the reason for being a member of BPW, for example: social contact, speakers each month, dealing with issues, lobbying government or personal education/development. Email these through so I can compile these ideas and present to you all, as Stage 1 of our new membership development programme.
(ii) a calendar has now been set up on the website. If you have a special event planned for the year, or a speaker of some renown that other members/clubs may be interested in please email through to either Ann Desmond (technology convenor) or me to add these into the calendar. Provide a brief sentence of time/date/speaker/event/cost. Note not only do existing BPW members look at this site but potential new members, this is a tool you can use effectively.
(iii) request every member to bring a guest to your next club meeting. As it is May, certainly bringing a mother or sister along is a good way to introduce someone you feel comfortable with into your club. Acknowledge members who have continually invited potential new members to meetings, look at your register, this would give you an indication who has done this if you are unaware.
(iv) finally, a simple tip, don’t always rely on an email or a newsletter getting through to a potential new member, give them a follow-up call on the telephone, the personal touch always has the strongest response.
Issues for your club involvement:
As noted previously the CEDAW papers are currently being circulated by the National Council of Women. Members around the country are asked to register their interest and participate in the discussion process. Different sections of the papers have been emailed out over the last couple of months; if you are interested in being on the mail out list please contact me.
If you are concerned about your membership growth, then your participation is necessary, if not vital, to ensure at least the status quo is maintained, or at best an increase in your membership. Through new members come new ideas.
Carolyn Savage, PBPW
BPW NZ 1st Vice President