MentorSHE Tips №1
This week, I attended a panel discussion called Knowledge, Network and Empathy: A Conversation about Mentorship and Race, presented by Women, Communications and Technology (WCT) and moderated by Sangita Patel. This subject is important to me on so many levels. As the founder of MentorSHE, a platform designed to reimagine solutions for mentorship , I appreciate real time insights and information about women and mentorship. I am so grateful to the women who shared their experiences about systemic racism and mentorship. I, like many, have much to learn.
This topic came up during my own research and interviews with mentors and mentees, both with women I knew, and those I would come to know. I asked women to tell me about their experiences with mentorship and on more than one occasion, heard the question — “Mentorship? we can’t even find anyone we identify with in our workplace.”
This question has a vital message, and that message was validated again during the panel discussion. When Sangita Patel asked Chantelle Slater-Shaw, Director of HR for Rogers Communications and past mentor with WCT, “When you took the management position, did you feel you were still dealing with the same type of racism being a Black woman at this level?” She replied that it was about the same, “ But when you go into a management level it becomes clearer, because you see even less people that look like you.” Slater-Shaw went on to say, “If there is another person from a marginalized group who is a manager, you need to be able to help them and encourage them, because they will face the same issues that you faced when you were in their role — so reach out, as opposed to them reaching out to you.”
Reach out. This, in my view, is mentorship at its core. It is a person who sees something in someone and will reach out to help. The challenge and pitfall of not only leaders but the everywoman is getting too caught up in the busy work and not having the time to observe, see and hear what is around them on a daily basis, not just at the higher levels of management. I echo Chantelle Slater-Shaw’s comment, “Know your content,” so you can be ready, be heard and be seen.