Mentors shatter myths and help women realize their true potential
Successful people often say that they stand on the shoulders of those who went before them. In my own case, my aunt was one of the first people to inspire me to choose my future career. As a child, I would frequently tag along with her to her legal office. I loved being in the middle of the bustling law firm environment. My aunt was genuinely passionate about her work as an attorney and that example empowered me. By the age of six, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—and I knew I could do it!
Role models push us to work hard, stretch ourselves, and dare to follow our dreams. Throughout my career, mentoring women has been a big part of my mission. I firmly believe that if we want to create a more equitable world, it is incumbent upon us to embrace the role of mentor whenever and wherever necessary.
Data from UN Women indicates a concerning reality: that women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts, and that the wage gap is even larger for women with children. Moreover, only 67 countries have laws against gender discrimination in hiring, with 18 countries allowing husbands to legally hinder their wives from working. It’s imperative that we close these divides—and that begins with strong female mentor-mentee relationships.
Encouraging women through mentoring is a potent tool to drive their progress in the professional sphere, ensuring they have access to economic opportunities that might otherwise pass them by, and enhancing their readiness for prospects.
While sharing our own success stories is important, it’s also critical that mentors dispel the myths that de-motivate women.
As I was climbing the ladder, I heard a lot of myths that women still hear today like “women don’t get the corner office,” “women don’t get to the executive level,” “local staff isn’t ‘promoted’ to headquarters,” and so on. These kinds of falsehoods could keep women in a comfort zone and limit them from daring to be their best.
But myths lead to mediocrity. Mentors have a responsibility to push women to reach their true potential. Being a woman in business can be challenging, but the sky’s the limit if you dare to take risks and develop your talents. It’s our job to remind our mentees to believe in themselves, rather than in myths.
Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than being a mentor. At Fujifilm, my compliance team is 80% female. Several of my protégés have risen through the ranks and others have earned MBAs and law degrees while working for me. Just as my aunt inspired me, I know my example and encouragement has helped dozens of women realize their aspirations. My hope is that they will do the same for the next generation of women.