SWE Regional Development Plan

Our Work

A Regional Development Plan

for SWE in Europe

Driving member engagement and growth

to help close the gender gap in STEM

The Challenge

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has been a champion of women in STEM for over 70 years. Amongst SWE’s 40,000+ members around the globe, was a highly qualified and committed community of members and volunteers in Europe.

Considering the growing importance of the DEI&B (diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging) topic for companies together with the challenges of recruiting and developing diverse talent pools in technical sectors, SWE was seeking a means to accelerate its development in Europe.

Having many European countries viewed as world leaders in advancing gender equality (at least in areas such as employment law and maternity leave provisions) was both an advantage and disadvantage for SWE as it required recalibrating parts of the approach which had proven highly successful in North America and India.

The Journey

As a mature association with a strong HQ staff and robust volunteer leadership pool, SWE already had a well-developed strategic plan and value proposition, with numerous services and structures to support its community.

To take the next step in Europe, the key would be getting to grips with the different perceptions, expectations and needs – not just between the core North American membership and Europe – but also across the European region.

To provide SWE the necessary insights to create an effective regional plan, Exempla developed and ran a detailed assessment project. The assessment had three main components:

  1. Analysing performance data, reports and experience from SWE HQ staff
  2. Gathering volunteer and member perspectives through interviews and focus groups
  3. Sourcing independent, third-party data to understand the European market potential and priorities, together with relevant EU policy objectives

Key attributes of the existing SWE Europe community were the high-profile brands and high-caliber professionals participating, which taken together with SWE’s global scale and reach provides opportunities that other organisations could not match.

Additionally, as SWE’s community incorporates professionals from undergraduate through to senior leaders from a broad sweep of engineering and technology backgrounds, a wide range of networking and engagement opportunities could be created – from informal peer to peer exchanges to more structured mentoring programmes.

Viewing SWE’s strengths in the context of the independent market assessment facilitated the discussion with SWE HQ staff about setting ambitious but realistic objectives.

The Result

The outcome of the regional assessment was a clear action plan with focus areas which would leverage SWE’s existing strengths (both at HQ and with regional volunteers) in combination with Exempla resources operating out of Brussels. Phases and success measures were identified so that progress and ROI could be clearly measured and plans adapted depending on performance.

Content development and volunteer engagement were central to the approach which would steadily add new activities without overloading the available resources. Topics for online “Inspiration Sessions” were carefully selected to add region specific content which enhanced the existing global offer. Session formats also included plenty of networking and discussion opportunities at times convenient to European professionals.

As a second step, with the region-specific activities underway, a regional value proposition was developed. Staying true to SWE’s global vision and brand, it will support the regional development by highlighting the most compelling reasons why Europeans should join the SWE community, brought to life by testimonials from members and corporate partners.


Karen Horting

Executive Director and CEO


Exempla synthesized inputs from SWE members, leaders, partners and external sources to develop a strong value proposition for our European community, complemented by unique content offerings and partnership packages. The Exempla team’s strategic skill set and market knowledge has been an asset to our development in the region and they have been steadfast partners to SWE.

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