Retaining and Developing Women at Best BuyHaving earlier written a post about Best Buy's "results-only work environment" (ROWE), I couldn't help but notice when Best Buy was one of three companies cited in a Business Week article on ways of building women's networks that actually have an impact on attracting and retaining female employees and customers.
I wasn't surprised that the Best Buy network has its own catchy acronym: WOLF, standing for Women's Leadership Forum. Best Buy gets mileage from the acronym by organizing a good deal of the work of the network into projects carried out by regional "WOLF packs." There are also innovation teams based at headquarters in Minneapolis.
As explained by reporters Diane Brady and Jena McGregor, the WOLF packs and innovation teams provide opportunities "for employees, from top executives to cashiers, to get more deeply involved in core business issues." Brady and McGregor spoke with Julie Gilbert, the Best Buy VP who conceived WOLF and now heads it, who told them, "The frame is on leadership, but you don't go to a course to build a leader. You learn by doing actual business issues, by solving business problems."
Brady and McGregor describe some examples of innovation team projects (e.g., revamping the online gift registry) and report encouraging results:
- Recruitement of female sales managers is up 100% over the past year.
- The share of female customers shopping at Best Buy is up since the network started about three years ago.
- Turnover among women managers is down by 10 percentage points in at least one region.