Women Improving Their Lives Through Networks: A Conversation
So sayEmily Dickens, chief of staff and head of government affairs at the Society for Human Resource Management, andVipula Gandhi, managing partner and global head of enterprise business at Gallup. “Gallup has studied wellbeing, and the data are clear that we need connections to have a life well-lived,” Gandhi says. “And feeling cared for is a big part of engagement and wellbeing.”
According to Dickens and Gandhi, a supportive, effective network isn’t just “people you know professionally” — it’s a community built on genuine connections, strengthened by vulnerability, generosity and intentionality. And contrary to outdated notions of networks, quality is much more important than quantity. “The key to a good network is depth, not breadth,” Dickens says. “You may know 500 people, but if you want a job reference or someone to pick your child up from school or take your parent to a doctor’s appointment, you need to know exactly who to reach out to at the right time.”
That’s reason enough for women to cultivate their networks, as Dickens and Gandhi relate in the following Q&A with Gallup Senior Editor Jennifer Robison, but organizations have a vested interest in working women’s networks too. The alarmingly high stress level and quit rate among female employees threaten leadership pipelines, innovation, talent benches, DEI initiatives, employee value propositions and profitability. Networks can reduce those risks — and improve women’s wellbeing at work and at home. “Opening yourself up to people, expanding your social network, really makes your life better,” Dickens says.