Paying it Forward—Women Mentoring Women

I believe so strongly in the importance of mentoring, especially for women, that in 2013 I called upon the top women leaders at Corning Incorporated to help me form an initiative specifically to facilitate and support these relationships.

Our purpose is to help increase the number of women in leadership positions by sharing lessons learned with our colleagues who want to advance their careers. We named it the UP2 Initiative because it is “up to” us, Corning’s women leaders, to do our part to create opportunities for other women to join us in the top ranks of the company.

Through UP2, the top 200 women of the company each mentor at least two other women, who in turn coach two other women, and so on, creating a powerful multiplier effect. We continually challenge women to take the UP2 pledge:

I believe the world is a better place when women’s voices are heard. I believe companies are more successful when women are allowed to reach their full potential. I believe it is “UP2” us to identify, develop, and promote women in the workplace. I pledge to help women succeed at Corning.

Throughout its 168-year history, women have made long-lasting contributions to Corning’s history. At first, they held secretarial or nontechnical manufacturing jobs, and then moved into more nontraditional roles during World War II. Today nearly 40 percent of our global workforce is made up of women working in engineering, science, manufacturing, finance, human resources, communications, administration, supply chain, and other roles. It’s up to us—the women leaders of Corning—to ensure that they have opportunities to contribute to the company’s mission and ascend to the highest levels of leadership as they build on our legacy as one of the world’s leading innovators.

In just six years, the UP2 initiative has expanded rapidly, reaching thousands of women globally. Those who have engaged have learned that effective mentoring relationships can be personally and professionally rewarding for mentors and mentees. The women who work at Corning choose their career paths based on personal, job, and family goals. Every choice is valid, and every contribution is valued, as it takes all of us working together to help Corning succeed.