Riley Hawkins and Kate Hogan, both MBA ’22, are co-presidents of Olin Women in Business and wrote this for the Olin Blog.
Transparency in the hiring process, publicly stated hiring goals, intentional mentoring efforts and externally reported accountability are key components to promoting a workplace that supports and promotes women, according to panelists in a recent event sponsored by Olin Women in Business and Anheuser Busch’s internal organization, Women in Beer.
The joint event, staged in honor of Women’s History Month, was entitled “What does it mean to be a feminist at work?” and hosted virtually on March 10.
The panel was moderated by Nidhi Kandari, MBA ’21, and included Karen Bedell, Center for Experiential Learning practicum and board fellows program director; Abbey Bethel, director, BSC Logistics–East Region IM, Anheuser-Busch; Ashley Macrander, associate dean and director of graduate student affairs; and Jennifer Logan, senior director, planning and performance management at Anheuser-Busch.
The event sparked interesting dialogues with emerging themes of accountability, inclusion and mentorship.
In regard to accountability, the panel discussed ways to ensure organizations are held to a high standard. For example, making hiring numbers publicly available helps to move the needle in terms of how quickly the candidate pool diversifies.
In addition, companies that make public commitments to hire more diverse candidates are more likely to end up doing so. Designating someone who challenges potential bias in interviewing—a “bias breaker”—is another way to ensure companies are held to their commitments of hiring more diverse candidates.
However, hiring diverse candidates isn’t enough. The panel shared valuable insights on the importance of inclusion. Without true inclusion, diverse candidates tend to have high turnover because they feel alienated. Companies and managers need to create an environment where people are comfortable and are able to be themselves once hired.
Finally, the panel spent time talking about a topic that’s especially important to emerging women business leaders: mentorship. Studies have shown that people with mentors are more likely to receive promotions, which makes mentorship a great tool to level the playing field for women. Panelists reminded attendees that mentorship is a two-way street, so mentees should think about how they can add value to their mentor and rise together.
One event participant asked how to find a mentor without conveying that she was needy or obnoxious.
“It’s an honor to be a mentor, so don’t feel like you’re burdening someone by asking them to start a mentorship chat,” Jennifer Logan said. “It means you like their work and it’s a compliment.”
Giving some final words of advice, Macrander said, “Strong teams are magnets for talent, so make sure you’re part of a team where there is trust and vulnerability and everybody knows your value.”