After being shut out of boys' clubs for years, professional women have created their own clubs to give them access to the same resources, networking opportunities and mentoring.These groups offer benefits most women won't find in the workplace. But being a part of the club comes with new challenges.
Duneier expects her business to triple as a result of the connections she made at WLE.
Aldebaran Associates an Atlanta-based recruiting firm. "Women often feel other women will steal their business," says Winsaft a member of LEXCI. While men tend to share their resources more freely, Winsaft notices women worrying there is not enough to go around. "There's often a mentality of lack," she explains. Serious confidentiality: At group meetings, women share top-secret information about their companies and business techniques. Therefore, confidentiality is taken seriously. At WPO, every member signs a confidentiality policy, and, as an added safeguard, every meeting starts with a spoken agreement of confidence. Despite precautions, breaches still occur. A confidentiality issue in the WPO served as a strong reminder to all members that breaking confidence in any way means expulsion from the group, explains Berner. Paying dues: If you want to be in a group, prepare to pay quite a bit for membership. Group fees range from $850 to $5,000 annually, depending on the type of membership. Many women decide not to join a group because they don't want to pay the fees. But others view high membership fees as a positive. "I want people who are interested in making a commitment," says Amy Langer, a member of WPO and CEO of Salo , a Minnesota-based recruiting firm. " By paying , you are making a statement of how committed you are to your business," agrees Winsaft. Having friends at the top comes with obvious benefits for many women. But to join, they must prepare to deal with the dynamics of the inner circle.