THE BLOG

Mentoring is the Down Payment on Our Future

04/14/2015 10:30 am ET | Updated Jun 13, 2015

"Service is the Rent We Pay for Living," said our high school graduation speaker Marian Wright Edelman in 1987.

I agree. And reflecting add, Mentoring is the Down payment on our Future.

For the busy working woman, service & mentoring can be tough. We are increasing the hours at the office, online at home, squeezing in quality time for our kids, our partners, trying to be decent daughters and daughters in law. We have less time with our girlfriends which we know is a key linkage to our sanity. And its not just working mothers, fathers want more time with their kids too and millenials have worlds of interests outside of the office with a distinct entrepreneurial mindset to their careers.

... But they need us.

We are needed to be mentors and champion others. Especially as we grow in influence and have more sophisticated decision-making networks. A few words of wisdom, a listening ear, some concrete guidance, can make a world of difference to someone in job transition or trying to find their way post-college.

... And we need us.

As we start realizing that the workforce is not the diverse, merit based system we thought it was and that there are political nuances we need to understand. The stats are dismal when it comes to women on boards, in leadership roles, in STEM. We learn we need to lift each other up and consider applying a two-candle perspective (when a candle lights another candle, they can both light others and all shine equally bright. ) We need to not compete for single digit spots, but push to create and open up more seats at the table.

So I have an action item for us all (male and female). Bring on an intern this Summer. Run an ad at your local University, on Craigslist, get your HR office to help. Give her a project where she works with you on something big. Set goals. Invite her to meetings with you. Interview her on her aspirations. Have her meet with two other executives you admire. Have her represent you at an event or listen in to important calls. Teach her to use technology in a work setting, software, have her teach you (reverse mentoring). Be open about your successes and failures.

If you are looking for more diversity in your workplace, consider this part of an on-boarding strategy.

BTW - you can count your intern mentee as part of the Million Women Mentors as can your colleagues who do the same.

Light her candle, let in some additional light and life to your workplace ... as she is a daughter, a sister, potentially a future mother, scientist, IT leader and she needs you to help her light up her path.