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Recap of Ten Thousand Coffee’s #BreakTheBias Office Hour on Women Empowerment

Hosted by CEO and Co-Founder of Ten Thousand Coffees Dave Wilkin, the #BreakTheBias Office Hour with guest speakers Christine Silva and Emma Mohns emphasized the importance of supporting and navigating women’s roles in the business world. It was also made clear that everyone has gender biases, even women about other women. It has been woven into the deepest nooks and crannies of our society, making it so hard to combat. But what is hard is not necessarily impossible— where there is a will, there is a way. Whether you are a woman or an ally, here are a few tools that you can use to help #BreaktheBias.

Speaking Up

Both Christine and Emma have experienced being undermined for their ideas when initially introduced, and when they were later re-introduced by someone else, they would not get credit for it. This is extremely detrimental to a woman’s confidence in the workplace. The business women suggested that when a situation like this presents itself, it is important to stand up for your ideas and let them know that you mentioned this before. After all, you are the author of your brain’s creations.

However, not everyone feels comfortable enough to stand up for themselves in that way, especially if they have ever felt unwelcomed in the business world prior to this experience. Luckily, this can be mitigated by allies. Allies– if you ever run into an instance where an idea that initially came from a colleague of yours has been resurfaced and is being tagged to be someone else’s idea, please speak up! This will allow for a solid foundation of trust to be built, creating an honest and integral work environment.

It is also crucial for women to know that they have the right to say yes and/or no. You are not being bossy, you are not being nasty, you are not being selfish, you are not being sneaky, and you certainly are not a puppet anyone can master. You have the right to speak up– the gender bias and discrepancy between a man saying “no” and a woman saying “no” needs to come to an end. The damage of this rhetoric is generational.

Mentorship and Sponsorship

Christine and Emma both spoke about their experiences being a young woman in the face of a huge corporation and feeling completely lost. This is where guidance comes in, and it is very important to know the different types. The guests of the Office Hour took their time highlighting the differences between mentorship and sponsorship.

Mentorship is the act of a mentor guiding you through a growth process in your professional development. This can be anyone from a colleague who has more experience to an outsider giving you tools to succeed in all realms of business. This is great for long-term and general progress, which is pivotal for someone who is fresh out of an undergraduate university program. Many connect with their mentors through social media platforms like LinkedIn, and others meet them at conferences and on other hubs, including DesautelsConnect (more information as well as the sign-up link are at the end of this article).

Sponsorship is when a colleague, manager, or someone who has worked with you for a while can vouch for your work. An example of an application of sponsorship can be seen when applying for a job. If your ex-colleague started a new position at a company and suddenly there is an opening that you would like to fill, asking for support in this regard by the person of your choosing would be a form of sponsorship.

Why is this important? This type of advocacy is necessary in a time where hiring managers may favour a man with the same credentials and capabilities as a woman they just interviewed. This subconscious bias, or implicit association, has been proven time and time again in the business landscape.​ This can be seen from promotion (or lack thereof) within a company to the gender pay gap. Studies have shown that women often sponsor other women in hopes of uplifting for continuous growth, but allies could also help in the same manner.

It is also important to remind women that it is perfectly alright to ask for help of any kind, but in this context especially, it is alright to ask for sponsorship. In fact, sponsorships provide a space for growth for both parties and it enhances the relationship. To add, people often feel better about working in a company where there is someone they know whose relationship with them is healthy. This can lead to an increase in confidence and productivity— who does not want that?

By breaking the bias, the world can achieve justice, peace, and inclusivity. With diversity comes bright ideas; speaking to a person from a marginalized community can educate due to the exchange of point of views. Thank you Dave Wilkin, Christine Silva, and Emma Mohns for a wonderful and encouraging Office Hour– we all look forward to a brighter, more inclusive future!


Feeling inspired by DesautelsConnect? Let us know about your experience! You may be featured on our social media channels to inspire the rest of the #DesautelsFamily!
 

Interested in DesautelsConnect?

Upon account registration, you may opt-in for our monthly newsletters with RSVP links to exclusive Office Hour events and fireside chats. Engage in virtual (or in-person) coffee chats with a mentor/mentee today!


Questions? Feel free to contact me at desautelsconnect.mgmt [at] mcgill.ca

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