High-ranking working mothers of color know that the way to build up the next generation is to be blatantly honest about what they’ve faced and share what they’ve learned. Want a great mentor like one of these successful women? Seek out leaders who will tell you the unvarnished truth.
Vice President, Global Internal Audit at Procter & Gamble
Mom of Ana, 19, and Sofia, 17
I get a lot of questions about whether to make a move to a new role or to a new location. That’s something I’m happy and passionate to talk about because I relocated to Venezuela when I was six months pregnant. My family and I spent five years in China. A couple of times I’ve had people I’ve mentored quote back to me advice I’ve given them. That’s kind of scary, but it’s also extremely gratifying and frankly quite humbling.
Audit Partner at KPMG
Los Angeles and New York
Mom of Adrian, young adult
I’ve mentored working mothers seeking advice about having a child and a career. I’ve also had mentoring relationships with younger females thinking about having a family. Do they do it now, or wait? I even have mentoring relationships with diverse professional men, and we might have conversations about family too. There’s a misperception that if you work hard, things come with time. It’s important to share my struggles—juggling family, difficult client situations, learning to speak up. Providing that honest advice helps create a trusting relationship.
Technical Vice President, Cloud Sales at IBM
Mom of Akia and Gregory, both young adults
If someone comes to me, I try my best not to turn them away. People inside and outside IBM helped me get to where I am. I mentor about 50/50 men and women. They have the same kinds of concerns. Those who are parents want to know how to move up in their career and still be able to go to their child’s sports events and dance recitals. So often, we as mentors try to solve the problem for them, but if I sit back, listen and ask open-ended questions, they will have an aha moment and solve it themselves.
President, Deloitte Foundation at Deloitte
Mom of Kyra, 18, and Aisha, 17
The sister circle is a group of about 30 women who I coach, mentor and sponsor. The common thread that connects us is that we are all women of color. There is a sense of community. There is trust. We can be vulnerable and challenge ourselves to be better, and there are no damaging consequences. We’ve had hard conversations. I’ve said to an individual, “What you want in your life and what this presents are two different things.” Make it your decision and destiny before someone makes it for you. I’m very proud of the circle. They’re paying it forward and mentoring younger women.
Senior Managing Director, U.S. Midwest at Accenture
Mom of Anjuli, young adult
I’ve been a mentor for two women for 18 years. Initially I was their boss. We stayed in touch when they were no longer working for me, and over time I became their mentor. At a dinner I had with one of them we talked about her promotion to managing director. She was hesitant to put her name in to be considered. I basically said to her, “If I can do it, you can do it.” She still talks about that dinner to this day, that it gave her the confidence that she could be successful.