When it comes to job hunting, research has shown that men, on average, will apply for jobs even if they only meet a few of the eligibility requirements—while women typically won’t go for the position unless they are 100% qualified.
“Look at the fact that Kanye is running for president,” says Katharine Mobley, global chief marketing officer at First Advantage. “Men apply for jobs they’re not qualified for, while women don’t take the initiative.”
“We as women don’t shout our accomplishments loud enough and we need to learn to do that better,” Mobley says. “We tend to be more timid because it feels self-serving to us and it feels foreign.”
That’s where mentoring can come in.
Mentoring has long been a part of her professional career—since she connected with healthcare marketing executive Cynthia Porter decades ago.
“She had some amazing insights into being a woman in business and tech and taught me a great deal,” Mobley says. “I’ve never taken a job now without calling her and getting her perspective.”
One of Porter’s lasting lessons, she adds, has been that mentoring relationships are two-way streets: The mentor should reap just as many benefits as the mentee.
For women, that idea goes hand in hand with the notion that workplaces thrive the more diverse they are. So, she adds, women need to be stepping up more readily into mentorship roles to help fuel the career development of their female colleagues.
Mobley—who was scheduled to speak at this year’s HR Technology Conference, which recently was announced as a virtual event—says she strives to raise awareness among the women she mentors about the ingrained expectations for women in business that could be stifling their careers.
“I remind them that, when it comes to reviews or resumes, to be bold, to not be shy about your accomplishments—show your impact on the bottom line: ‘I launched 12 products with a 90-day turnaround and got 2.6 million people back to work during the pandemic,’ “ she says. “Just because you’re doing your day-to-day job, sometimes it’s important at the end of the day or the month or the quarter to really sit down and quantify it and shout those accomplishments.”
Mobley recalls a talk she delivered about 10 years ago on women in tech, when she asked the audience if she, as a woman, should be paid equal to or more than a man. Someone replied, “Well if the data supports it.”
“ ‘Screw the data,’ ” she recalls saying. “ ‘As a mother, a wife, an executive, I accomplish more in a day than most men do in a week and I should be paid fairly for that.’ That’s the mentality we have to have.”
That need to “be bold” is more important than ever.
Mobley, herself a working mother, says the pandemic has weighed heavily on professional women with kids at home: They’re shouldering the majority of childcare, dealing with peak levels of “Mommy guilt” and, without a strong support structure at home, could be floundering under the stress and exhaustion, she says.
“Women have been in the trenches throughout this pandemic and led their companies through it, and they need to be truly celebrated and promoted,” she says. “And we, as women, need to come together and be more open about talking about the challenges of being women in business.”
While some corporate mentorship programs for women are thriving, particularly in tech companies and larger organizations, in many other cases, mentorship initiatives arose from discrimination lawsuits—and, thus, need more protocol and leadership to drive adoption. “You need the structure and the format to get the true value out of it,” Mobley says.
Just as valuable as mentorship is sponsorship, she adds.
Typically, those in the position to sponsor are men—who have the potential to be key allies for women.
“Often, those roles that the organization is looking to fill aren’t discussed in women’s groups—they’re discussed in the board room or on the golf course by men,” Mobley says. “So, men need to champion and sponsor women, who have held their organizations together through this pandemic and proven their worth more than ever.”