After decades of building your career and company, you’ve learned so much about how to be a success. Yet you’ve also discovered that it can be hard to find peers that understand the unique issues that you face. That’s what peer advisory groups are for.

For businesswomen striving to obtain and hold on to high-power positions or to grow their businesses, all-female peer advisory groups provide a confidential place for their members to share vulnerable topics. Business forums for women give women leaders a safe space to learn, share and grow.

You may discover other members are facing the same challenges. You may also learn a problem you believed insurmountable can and has been overcome by one of your peers.

What is a peer advisory group?

While every peer advisory group is structured differently and is often as unique as its members, most of them share similar features and benefits. They bring together a group of business leaders – whether they are executives or entrepreneurs – to meet regularly in a structured, organized way. These groups create an environment where individuals can find and give support, solve problems and achieve their goals alongside like-minded professionals.

Those challenges may include personal issues that impact how you handle your career, financial matters or learning how to prioritize exactly what you and your business or your career needs to be successful.

Who should join a peer group?

Peer advisory groups are built around the challenges of executives and business owners who often spend much of their time leading and supporting others. This is an opportunity for them to get the support that they require.

Within these groups, the members work together to not only share their challenges and ideas, but to learn how to solve issues and support one another. As a result of the very personal issues that these groups deal with, they are highly confidential and always have a nondisclosure clause.

If you’re wondering if a peer group is right for you, you need to ask yourself several questions:

– Do you worry if you are making the best decisions for your career or your business?
– Do you feel like no one else in your life can relate to your unique issues?
– Are you feeling daily anxiety in regards to the decisions that you must make?
– Are you open to, and ready to grow your career and business with constructive criticism?

If you’ve already started thinking of how speaking with other leaders can help you answer these questions, then a peer group may be helpful for you.

What function does a peer advisory group serve?

Between the time needed to run their businesses and work on their day-to-day goals, business leaders often see their big picture goals fall by the wayside.

A peer group allows its members to carve out the proper time they need to focus on high-level strategy, develop innovations and, perhaps most importantly, stay accountable to their long-term goals. In short, it helps you work ON the business and not just IN it. The ability for entrepreneurs to make this shift is a huge predictor of the ability to scale and grow a business.

Additionally, it can seem lonely when you are at the top and your family and friends – who you can normally confide in – may not understand the demands of business. By joining a peer advisory group, you’ll gain a sense of community with other like-minded leaders and gain the benefit of having a broader perspective of ideas.

How is a peer advisory group different from belonging to a professional association or a networking group?

When most hear the words “peer advisory group,” they often think that it’s just another professional or networking opportunity.

While networking is a side benefit, peer advisory groups have a direct focus on improving your strategic, business and financial decision-making and offer more structure to that end. For example, peer advisory groups are led by professional facilitators. Facilitators are trained to lead peer advisory groups and their position is directly tied to the success of group members.

Why should you join a peer advisory group?

Beyond all the reasons already brought up, everyone has unique reasons why they find value in a peer advisory group. Those reasons are different for executives and business owners. Here are a few reasons why you may find membership in one of these groups valuable:

If you’re an executive, a peer advisory forum should…

– Give you a broader perspective and a community to confide in.
– Take the pressure off by confirming you are making the right decisions.
– Impart strategies for dealing with the pressure-filled charge of more profitability, aggressive KPIs and the need to be a fast and effective decision-maker.
– Avoid indecisiveness through being confident in your decisions.
– Help you chart your course toward upward mobility or a seat on the board.
– Show you how to deliver better results or find the resources to do so.
– Give you a safe place to share your challenges without the fear of being seen as weak or unqualified.

If you’re a business owner, a CEO peer group or small business peer group should…

– Give you outside counsel and advice as you make big decisions (particularly if that causes you anxiety).
– Help you pivot your business model in response to market changes, economic crises, or new opportunities.
– Help you make sure that you’re making good decisions.
– Show you ways to grow your company and fund your retirement.
– Build strategies for creating jobs and taking care of your workforce.
– Impart strategies for dealing with issues like imposter syndrome or phobias such as fear of failure, not doing it right or losing it all.
– Aid you in discovering the answers that you’ve been seeking.
– Teach you how to enable your business to support your family.

Can an all-female peer advisory group be more beneficial for women leaders?

Women business leaders can face unique challenges. They’re subject to more pressure as well, as women face a higher competence threshold: they must often conquer these challenges without showing emotion, being seen as weak, and walking the tightrope between strength and likability.

According to LeanIn and McKinsey & Company’s 2019 “Women in the Workplace” report, women are often subjects of unconscious bias, which blocks their access to promotion opportunities, leadership assignments, and mentors and sponsors, contributing to the “broken rung” of female advancement. One in four women reported that unconscious bias affected their opportunities to get ahead. The reported ratio was even higher for women of color.

In 2019, women-owned businesses represented 42% of all businesses in the United States. And while these firms are growing rapidly, there is still a significant disparity in size between these firms and others, according to the 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report published by American Express. Women business owners face greater challenges accessing capital, resources, and mentorship – in part because unconscious bias and institutionalized barriers stand in the way of such access. Women also manage a greater share of family and home responsibilities than their male counterparts, and experience higher levels of pay disparity and income insecurity.

For women in both executive leadership and women business owners, being part of a group of like-minded female leaders who can relate to those challenges may be beneficial to the growth of their career and their businesses.

The benefits of a peer advisory group for women include:

– An informal board of directors: Your advisory group will be able to listen and validate your experiences, while advising you on the best course of action.
– Fresh ideas: By working with others from different backgrounds and industries, you’ll gain new perspectives and strategies.
– Connections: When you meet other women with the same issues and goals as you, you’ll gain valuable new relationships and contacts that can lead to accessing greater professional opportunities and key resources or employees to grow your company.
– Fast learning: Collaborative learning and sharing can bring out the best of the best in each individual as they share their insights and know-how.

How can peer advisory groups support female leadership throughout COVID-19?

Over the past months we’ve changed the way we work and do business. The reasons for joining a structured peer advisory forum grow more pointed as many continue to remain isolated socially. Throughout these challenging times, it has never been more important to connect with other women business leaders.

EWF (Executive Women’s Forums) International is hard at work creating community and support. In addition to offering several peer advisory groups for different types of career women and business owners, we will be launching a virtual peer advisory forum for women in executive leadership, giving access to women executives nationwide, and even around the world. This new virtual peer group will start in the fourth quarter of 2020. Early applications for the pilot program are open now at As with all executive peer advisory forums, membership is exclusive to women in VP positions or above and is non-competitive with existing members within the forum. Members must apply to be considered for membership in a forum, which is by invitation only.

Contact EWF International to apply or nominate a woman executive in your organization for this exclusive opportunity.

EWF International – Empowering Women in Business

Since 1998, EWF International has been focused on consulting and supporting women in business.

Our offerings provide a dynamic ecosystem of programs for career-oriented women and their companies across career and business stages, including women in executive leadership, female business owners, early- and mid-career women, corporate female leadership development programs, speaking and facilitation, individualized coaching for women, and educational resources and events.

Our mission is to create more vibrant economies and improve company performance by increasing the number of women in executive leadership and business ownership.

Depending on where your career has taken you, EWF is fully prepared to meet you where you are and empower you for the future.

We offer exclusive peer groups for women that are already accomplished or have big career ambitions. If you want to be surrounded by a community of like-minded businesswomen ready to help amplify your strengths, this is the place for you.

For more information on how EWF can help you, fill out your information at and we’ll get in touch with you soon.