It has been more than one hundred years since the first International Women’s Day was honored and observed through marches that sought to highlight the issues of women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and to end discrimination. And while progress has been made as the century passed, women continue to face many challenges both in society and the workplace. While cracked, the proverbial glass ceiling is still there and prevents a talented group from making a full contribution to the success of companies.
For women like me who have advanced to a position of leadership and influence, there have typically been a few mentors or influencing figures who have helped navigate and guide us during key parts of our own leadership journeys. Their advice and support often pushed us to reach further and provided the encouragement needed to achieve our goals. Unfortunately, many women climbing the corporate ladder do not actively seek out mentoring relationships because they see it as a sign of weakness, but there is great strength in the humility of asking for help. And for those that have succeeded, it is important that they reach out to other women and share their experience and pay it forward.
So as we celebrate International Women’s Day, I encourage other women in business to seek out mentoring relationships. For emerging leaders, this is an opportunity to learn from women that have already overcome some of the obstacles you currently face and for my fellow executives, mentoring presents a great opportunity to use your unique and hard-earned wisdom to contribute to even more women flourishing in the boardroom. It is really amazing to see the progress women have made in business, but it is even more exciting to think about what the future holds, especially when we leverage our strengths through mentoring.
Lorna Donatone is COO and president of Sodexo Education