Skip to main content

Smith Custom Programs

Women’s leadership development programs designed for your organization

Companies with the most female leadership consistently outperform those with the least. Smith Custom Programs are proven to increase the advancement and retention of women leaders – and that means better business outcomes across the board.

When you partner with Smith College Executive Education to design a custom program for your organization, you get a program that addresses the critical needs you identify for your workforce – with your company culture built into every session.

  • About

    The Custom Difference

    Experience, vision, and collaboration matter when it comes to crafting customized, women- and diversity-focused leadership programs, and no one knows women’s leadership better than Smith College Executive Education.

    Working side-by-side with your Talent Development or Diversity & Inclusion team, we construct powerful leadership development programs that focus on your specific goals and tackle the challenges your organization faces advancing women to top levels of leadership.

    You can count on Smith’s expertise in program design, whether exclusively for women or including men, to:

    • Build a diverse pool of talented, high-potential leaders with strong functional backgrounds, innovative business competencies, and clear leadership capabilities tailored to your environment
    • Deliver effective retention and succession-planning practices to ensure your company has the necessary pipeline of inclusive managers and executives at all levels
    • Create champions for culture change that support all of the above

    For organizations that seek to build their women’s leadership pipeline fast, Smith Custom Programs are proven to make a measurable difference in the retention and advancement of top female talent at some of the world’s greatest organizations. What are you waiting for? Get started today.

  • Program Design

    Programs Designed to Meet Your Women’s Leadership Goals

    Each year we design and deliver single-gender or coed custom-designed programs that focus on specific challenges our partner organizations face moving their women’s leadership goals forward.

    Every Smith Custom Program is designed with our multi-step approach, which is rooted in our collaborative and continuous cycle of assessment and dialogue between Smith and key stakeholders at your organization.

    Step 1 | Discovery

    The Discovery phase is critical: It’s where, together, we uncover what your people really need and what the real issues and opportunities are.

    • Why are you doing this and what do you hope to accomplish?
    • Who are the internal champions, key stakeholders, and potential participants?
    • What makes your company’s culture unique?

    Step 2 | Proposal Development

    During the Program Proposal Development phase, Smith takes the information gathered in Discovery and develops a program recommendation. What will your program look like? How will it be carried out?

    • Draft curriculum, objectives and outcomes, and budget
    • Propose timelines for program design and roll-out
    • Review proposal together, provide feedback

    Step 3 | Program Design

    This is where the details of your leadership training are presented. A preliminary session or program design is created based on the in-depth Discovery process and the feedback and needs uncovered after discussing the proposal.

    • Present initial curriculum and program design, including: location, timeline, and beyond
    • Receive critical input from stakeholders
    • Review and modify final design

    Once the program design is approved, Smith convenes a faculty to deliver on the learning objectives identified throughout the Discovery, Proposal, and Design phases.

    Step 4 | Program Delivery

    This is what you have been building towards: the delivery of your Smith Custom Program.

    • Support of company recruitment practices and candidate selection
    • Program orientation call for participants and corporate decision-makers
    • Roll-out of inaugural program

    Step 5 | Evaluate, Analyze, Modify

    After each session, participants give in-program feedback. At the conclusion of the program we sit back down together to evaluate these assessments and any other feedback, and make decisions on next steps.

    • Ongoing evaluations and feedback-based discussions used to continuously refine and modify program design and content
    • Connect participants with ongoing learning opportunities

    The Custom Program design process is an ongoing cycle, rooted in a dialogue between Smith and your organization. Each design process is unique and based directly on your evolving needs, or the need to meet new program goals.

  • Impact & Value

    Empowering Women Leaders

    Investing in the leadership of the high-potential women at your organization isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s a business imperative.

    Research shows that organizations that prioritize advancing women to top leadership roles benefit from increased employee satisfaction; engagement; retention; and bottom line business results.

    Better Financial Performance | Companies with higher numbers of women at senior levels are also companies with better organizational and financial performance.
    – McKinsey & Company, Women Matter report

    Outperform the S&P | Stocks of Fortune 500 companies with women CEOs rose an average of 50% in 2009, compared to the benchmark for U.S. stocks, the S&P 500, which rose an average of 25%.
    – The National Association for Female Executives


    When you invest in a Smith Custom Program, there is a greater impact than when enrolling women in open enrollment programs alone. A custom program is tailored to your specific needs and allows your organization to more swiftly and cost effectively move more women up the leadership pipeline.

    Your needs and goals come first at Smith:

    • Programs are aligned to your company’s strategic mission, operating goals, culture, and business needs
    • Programs are built to augment or complement existing leadership development programs or initiatives in your organization
    • Course content and hands-on simulations are customized and based on the leadership competency requirements identified within your company
    • Course design and its components are continuously improved and refined, based on ongoing assessment and evaluations that identify the business outcomes that are most critical to your company.

    It’s about you, not us.

    Leadership Case – Johnson & Johnson

    More than 1,000 women at Johnson & Johnson have attended Smith College Executive Education leadership programs

    In 2002, JoAnn Heisen, then Chief Global Diversity Officer, Executive Committee Member, and founder of the industry leading Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) at Johnson & Johnson (J&J), came to an uncomfortable realization:

    The group of 20 women J&J was sending Smith open enrollment programs each year was indeed producing powerful results, but moving only 20 women through the programs each year was not enough. At that pace, the company’s pressing need for strong female executives ready to take J&J to the next level would never be met. And they would certainly never meet their ultimate goal, to be the #1 company in the world for women executives.

    J&J had to make a big statement. They partnered with Smith College Executive Education to increase the rate at which their high-potential women were being prepared for leadership. Smith worked closely with J&J to design and deliver a custom program that provided transformative leadership development to many more high-potential women using Smith’s signature all-women model.

    More than 240 women per year attended three Smith-J&J Custom Leadership programs in the U.S. and Asia. Since 2002, more than 1,000 high-potential female managers and executives have been through the programs.

    The result? The female executive ranks at J&J have grown from just 300 in 1995 to more than 2,000 today.

    “There is no doubt that Johnson & Johnson has benefited enormously from Smith’s programs,” said Heisen. “Our women rave about the experience. To attend one of Smith’s sessions is worth its weight in gold on their resume.”

    And J&J executives aren’t the only ones raving about the experience. Today, J&J is considered one of the benchmark companies for developing, promoting, and retaining exceptional women executives.

  • The Experience

    Higher retention rates. Deeper leadership bench-strength. Huge competitive advantage. Sound like a miracle? It’s not, when you partner with Smith College Executive Education.

    Learn more about Smith Custom Programs from the talent development and diversity & inclusion professionals who partner with us.

  • Getting Started

    How to Get Started

    Beginning your Smith Custom Program journey is as simple as completing a form.

    Once we receive your information request, a member of our team will contact you to learn more about your interest, initiate the design cycle, or just answer any questions you may have about the design process.

    Once you and your organization decide to move forward, we will begin with the Discovery phase of our design cycle, which can be done remotely or in-person at your location.

    Contact us to launch your Smith Custom Program exploration today.