Vanessa Yanez recently hosted students from SJSU and is presently interviewing for summer cohorts. She also runs the intern program for the communication department at HP. Vanessa shared with The Scope Weekly her observations in the importance of successful women mentoring young women coming up in the business world and as both a mentor and someone who once was a mentee.
Helping the younger generation climb the corporate ladder
Helping the younger generation find their calling and mentoring them is the path to building a roadmap of upcoming business leaders. The steps up the career ladder are strewn with connections to catapult to new levels. “For me, the higher I climb the ladder the more I see the importance of reaching back and helping along the next generation,” Vanessa Yanez told The Scope Weekly in an exclusive interview.
Since 1988 women have outnumbered men on college campuses since 1980 women, have also earned at least one-third of law degrees and by 1990 they accounted for one-third of medical school students. Despite these statistics, women have still failed to make their way up the ladder and into to positions of prominence in America at the rate that should have ensued such progress and achievements.
How important is mentoring for tomorrow’s leaders?
When asked about these challenges, Vanessa said, “Yet, I believe that cultivating early mentoring habits in young women helps to build confidence in their capabilities. As they move up the career ladder, they’re also far more likely to foster a willingness to mentor other young women on their career paths. The result is a more corporate culture that fosters new generations of future leaders in years to come.”
And she’s right to believe so. A study conducted at the University of Delaware demonstrated that young adults who were at risk of falling off track but had a mentor were 55% more likely to enroll in college. The same study showed that 78% of participants were more likely to volunteer regularly and 90% indicated interest in becoming a mentor themselves and paying it forward to future generations.
Finally, the study also indicated that 130% of participants were more likely to hold leadership positions after being mentored throughout their career paths.
Why should women mentor younger women?
Although women hold almost 52 percent of all professional-level jobs, American women lag substantially behind men when it comes to their representation in leadership positions. As an example, a report published by the law firm Fenwick & West LLP in 2016 revealed that a staggering 43 percent of the 150 highest-earning public companies right here in Silicon Valley had no female executive officers at all.
Vanessa told us, “The way I see it, interns are energy, not a burden. They bring new ideas to the table and a refreshing point of view. Thrilled with the opportunity to learn and develop key skills within their careers, they also offer a way of thinking that no one else does. They are to task when they are presented with a challenge, which provides stimulus for the mentor and interesting opportunities for the company as a whole.”
She added,” I think it’s important for women entering the workforce to see successful women – when they see it, they believe they can also become it. I think it’s impactful to see someone who looks like us. It’s inspiring. Very much the spirit of seeing it, be it. In my experience women coming up need to see and hear high expectations and confidence to build their own. A few minutes being heard can go a long way. I also find that helping others rise has helped with my drive and energy as it’s more fun seeing someone experiencing for the first time something that previously might have been old hat. The intern program we’ve built at HP has not only interned some amazing cohort mentees, but it’s done so much for those who are coming up as the mentors. I love seeing my team give advice. They have so much to offer, and I can see how the feedback they get energizes them. “
Benefits of mentoring for the mentee
While both the mentor and mentee can benefit from mentoring programs, it’s common for many people to overlook how a company can benefit from having younger female workers enter into mentorship programs.
Various studies have been conducted around the world verifying the advantage of including women into work teams. One study conducted by researchers Anita Woolley and Thomas W. Malone from Carnegie Mellon University discovered that when women made up more than 50% of a group, that particular team’s collective intelligence increased to above average levels.
The same research also indicated that when teams were asked to complete tasks and then were given scores based on their results, the most successful teams were those with more women on them.
Adding more women to work teams increases the likelihood of innovations, which has the power to improve company revenue. Vanessa said, “Not only does this environment nurtures innovations, but it also creates a corporate culture that includes healthy gender diversity.”
Breaking the glass ceiling
Even though women have made tremendous strides in the business world in recent decades, there is still a widespread misconception that not every woman will have the same opportunities to climb the career ladder. Fortunately, when successful women choose to step up to the plate and become mentors for younger women, they stand out as being positive role models for what’s possible.
When you get right down to it, women earn almost 60% of undergraduate degrees and master’s degrees. They also make 48% of all medical degrees and 47% of all law degrees.
Despite representing a significant percentage in the early stages of their professional careers, the same levels of success don’t seem to translate when it comes to leadership positions.
Case in point, women at S&P 500 companies in the financial services industry represented 54% of the labor force. Yt they only make up 29% of executive and senior-level managers and only 2% of CEOs. The numbers are similarly disappointing across the legal, medical and academic industries too. In 2016 omen held only 18% of S&P 1500 board seats.
As discouraging as some of the figures above may appear to be, Vanessa said,” use them as motivation to get out there and mentor younger women with business aspirations. At HP, we aim to connect young people with suitable mentors to help them grow their skills exponentially. Companies benefit from the fresh ideas interns bring and have the opportunity to develop a more skilled workforce, while interns go into the world feeling more valued, better informed and ready to take any challenge ahead of them.”
You may contact Vanessa Yanez on LinkedIn.