Training APEX Best Practice: HD Supply’s Women in Pro

This leadership program brings female associates in manager roles and above together for three weeks for inspiring speaker sessions, networking, and professional development opportunities.

APEX Awards

Wholesaler/distributor HD Supply’s Women in Pro program aims to celebrate, empower, and connect female leaders through increased networking opportunities, development workshops, open dialogue, and development opportunities.

Program Details

Women in Pro is a leadership program that brings female associates in manager roles and above together for three weeks for inspiring speaker sessions, networking, and professional development opportunities. This program was open to all female leaders (manager level and above) across HD Supply, regardless of function. Available to 600 female leaders, the company saw an average of 424 participants (a maximum of 461 attended the first session).

Last year’s program included 40-plus speakers and primarily focused on three themes:

  • Change management
  • Growth
  • Going beyond

The sessions were scheduled one week apart and lasted three hours each. Each session included a kickoff from a senior leader, an internal keynote, Table Talks (roundtables), and individual speakers. Other sessions included an external keynote and breakout sessions. Prior to the program, participants received a Women in Pro apron, as well as strategically aligned program giveaways.

This program created a space for HD Supply’s female leaders to share diverse perspectives, learn from one another, and grow personally and professionally in an inclusive and supportive environment. This type of program is the first of its kind at HD Supply. The program included external guest speakers including Brooke Baldwin, former CNN anchor and author of “Huddle: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power,” and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who talked about her career and success in a male-dominated environment such as politics. HD Supply’s Chief Commercial Officer presented the internal keynote. Directors and above led breakout room sessions on topics such as building your brand, visability and recognition, and using social media professionally.

Prior to the program, participants were given access to the Women in Pro event portal. There they completed registration for the events, selected the breakout sessions they were interested in attending, completed their profile, and were encourgaged to network with other participants. Following each week’s event, participants received an e-mail recapping the events for the week, were provided access with recordings of the events, and received e-mail communications from individuals who wanted to connect and network with selected participants. Program participants also received cards to reach out to three women in their “huddle” to reinfornce the message from the external keynote.


Upon the completion of week one, a total of five network connections were made in the Women in Pro event portal. After week two, 80 additional connections were made. After week three, 53 additional connections were made for a total of 138 connections.

The business impact was measured against HD Supply’s goal to increase the female promotion rate by 1 percent. The year prior to the program being implemented, there was a total of 15 promotions for this audience, for a promotion rate of 10.2 percent. Following the program, there was a total of 34 promotions, increasing the promotion rate to 12.3 percent—more than double the goal.

Edited by Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine, owned by Lakewood Media Group. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.