What Business Women Should Consider When Finding a Mentor

Navigating the road to your career is not always easy —  especially as a woman. Although we have been pointedly fighting for gender equality in the workplace for decades, if not centuries, there is still a long way to go.

Finding a mentor can help alleviate some of the challenges that come along with finding out how to get where you wanna go. However, finding a mentor can be a challenging process itself. Here is what you need to know as a business woman looking for a mentor.

Workplace Discrimination

It’s vital to keep workplace discrimination in mind when looking for a mentor, especially if you’re a woman of color. Plenty of bias, prejudice, and stereotyping go on in the workplace, including persistent pay gaps between men and women. In order to avoid, tackle, and overcome discrimination issues, you must learn to recognize sexism in the office. Examples of gender discrimination include:

  • Unequal pay
  • Biased interview questions (i.e. do you have kids?)
  • Confirmation bias
  • Diminished responsibility
  • Gender roles and stereotypes i.e. men are strong, women are emotionally intelligent
  • Pregnancy discrimination
  • Unlawful termination

Hopefully, there are no major signs of gender discrimination in your office, but if there are, know your rights and speak up. You can always talk to the Human Resources department to discuss  your options.

When thinking about who you want to be your mentor, keep in mind the people who are doing the discriminating, and take note of who is speaking up. Perhaps a male manager checks the person saying something that can be offensive, perhaps a female manager takes action to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Obviously, you don’t want to have a mentor who will discriminate against you or other women, so try to find someone who can guide you in standing up for workplace rights.

Gender and Female Empowerment

In a mentor, you will want to find someone who does more than stand up for others when they need help. You want someone who will not see you as just a woman, but as a strong, skilled employee. Of course, being a woman is also powerful, so you should look for someone who will help empower you.

According to the findings from research on hostile work environments, “a whopping 84 percent of women have been told that they behave too aggressively, while 47 percent report being asked to do lower level tasks not asked of their male counterparts, like taking notes or ordering food.”

Due to this type of gender discrimination, you should consider gender as a factor in who you choose to be a mentor. If you choose a male mentor, they can potentially help you go after what you want more. The Wall Street Journal reports that “men are more likely than women to feel confident they are en route to an executive role.” In their study they found that men win more promotions, challenging assignments, and access to top leaders than their female coworkers.

Finding a male mentor can help you adopt a strong, confident attitude in the office that can help you further progress in your career. On the other hand, there are definitely major benefits to having a female mentor.

A female mentor is more likely to understand your perspective. They are likely to have experienced workplace discrimination at at least one point or another, and they can help you find ways to conquer it; having a female mentor can help you become the strong career woman you are striving to be.

Regardless of gender, you should look for a mentor who encourages employee development. This can be someone who pushes you and others to look for new opportunities in the office, such as applying for other positions within the company and helping you advance your career. They will be the ones to give you the push you need to get where you want to go, even if it means exploring paths you hadn’t really considered, such as getting a Master’s of Business Administration or another degree relevant to your career.

Being a Good Leader for Other Women

There is no question that the business world needs more women in it, especially in positions of authority. Hopefully, your mentor will help you rise to meet and surpass your goals in your career. This way, you can become a leader, and eventually a mentor, for other employees looking for guidance.

Of course, you should do everything you can to use your position of leadership and power in the workplace to be a good boss to other women and lift up female employees in particular. Washington State University states that being a good leader to other women means fostering “a business environment that invites and involves women in business to gain respect and to feel valued for their contributions, leaders and managers can work to overcome the roadblocks on the way toward building fulfilling careers.”

On your path to finding a mentor and learning where you want to go in your career, make sure to learn from women leaders other than your mentor. Look for inspirational readings from other women, like Inna Rosputnia and Mariellie Rodriguez Mundy. With consideration, patience, and confidence, you can find the right mentor to help you be your best self in the workplace.

Strengthen Relationships – Make Every Connection Count – Bonnie Ross-Parker

brp portraitUncovering special people is a skill worth developing.
Special people exist everywhere.

I’ve been and continue to be a networking ‘junkie’.  Networking is in my blood right along with oxygen.  I’m addicted! I love the anticipation of meeting new people, uncovering new talent and the satisfaction of introducing people to others they need to meet!  For me, networking is like a walk on the beach – you simply never know the outcome of any encounter – no different than finding one special shell that stands out from the rest because of its size, its beauty or uniqueness. You pick it up, hold it in your hand and take it with you.  Uncovering special people is a skill worth developing.  Special people exist everywhere.

What I’ve frequently discovered during networking experiences, however, is how quickly someone can dismiss another person because they don’t look beyond the surface of the individual to what is unseen. How can anyone know the talent one has, the resource someone can offer, the opportunity that a connection can generate if a quick glance is all that is offered?  Only through a conversation, an exchange of ideas and a door open to possibilities can anyone really know the value one individual can offer to the life of another.  That’s why I adhere to the mantra: Make Every Connection Count!

There’s no magic, no special skills or strategy to make this happen.  You simply treat everyone you meet with a smile, with acknowledgement and respect.  You express appreciation to the clerk who tenders your order at the supermarket, the teller who handles your bank transaction, the postal employee who delivers your mail, the clerk who hands you your clean laundry and anyone else who serves or impacts you in some way.  Replace ‘Thank you” with “I appreciate you.”  Get in the habit of expressing this anytime you can under any circumstance and you will soon discover that making every connection count becomes natural and joyful.  Someone holds the door open for you?  “I appreciate you did that for me!”  Someone does you a favor?  Express appreciation.  Make acknowledgement a habit.

Once I got in the swing of going the extra mile to bring value to even casual connections, I stepped up my game in the networking arena.  I don’t let any opportunity pass me by to make connections count.  Others will say, make a good impression.  I translate that to “Leave indelible positive imprints everywhere you go and in everything you do.”  You never know where a positive connection can lead.  You never know the difference you can make in someone’s life or the difference someone can make in your life.  You never know!  I had a casual conversation with a young woman I met at a chamber of commerce “After Hours” that ultimately led to a speaking engagement in Germany!  Not long ago, I met a business coach at a networking event and introduced him to an amazing woman who was developing an innovative training program.  They became partners!  You might be thinking, “Will I ever get rewarded for having a generous spirit?”  My answer is “Yes”.   The rule is simple.  Make every connection count.  Let others sing your praises and be raving fans.  Do what you do out of integrity and you will experience rewards for your efforts.  Sometimes, acknowledgement comes from an unexpected source, a circumstance you’ve long forgotten or because you gave someone your full attention.  Meet people.  Engage in conversations.  Make introductions.  Be a great listener.  Offer resources to add value to the relationships you wish to develop.  Again, Make every connection count.  You NEVER know where a connection will lead.  Make effective connecting a priority in 2014.  You’ll be glad you did and so will others.


Bonnie Ross-Parker, a.k.a. “America’s Connection Diva”, is a multi-dimensional businesswomen/entrepreneur with a background in education, franchise development, publishing, mentorship, network marketing, and community development.  She combines vision with a unique set of skills.  Formerly the Associate Publisher of The Gazette Newspaper/Atlanta, she focuses her energies on supporting women. Bonnie is a graduate of George Washington University, & earned a Certification in Network Marketing at the University of Chicago.  Several of her articles on owning one’s own business and entrepreneurship have appeared in publications including: Wealth Building, Home Business Magazine, Business to Business and Entrepreneur’s Business Start-Ups.

In 2002 Bonnie received The Athena Award ~ an honor designed to acknowledge women of leadership in cities throughout the United States.  In September, 2005 she was honored by the Women’s Leadership Exchange, a New York based organization, as an Influential Woman of Georgia and currently serves on their Atlanta Advisory Board.  Bonnie is a featured speaker with the Direct Selling Women’s Alliance.  In May of that same year, Bonnie was honored by The International Toastmaster’s Organization of Georgia with their annual Communication & Leadership Award.  In May, 2010, Bonnie was recognized as a distinguished business woman – part of the Princess Diana Tour/Atlanta.  In October of the same year, she was honored by People you need to know Magazine’s Business Superstar Awards Breakfast for her contribution as an entrepreneur. Career Magazine (California) featured Bonnie as their cover story “Branding Your Vision” November/December 2010 issue. OSBO, Organization Supporting Business Owners recognized Bonnie for her Entrepreneurship in May, 2011 at their 9th anniversary celebration along with our distinguished Atlanta recipients.

Bonnie is the author of  “Walk In My Boots” ~ The Joy of Connecting,  Y.O.U. Set A High Standard for Being Human and 42 Rules for Effective Connections.   In 2002, Bonnie licensed The Joy of Connecting™ gatherings for women. After a decade of supporting women, JOC has enhanced its program – now called Xperience Connections.  It’s mission is to encourage and facilitate the growth, performance and integrity of professional women by creating opportunities to foster relationships through a creative exchange of information and referrals.  Xperience Connections is expanding nationwide.  Bonnie lives in Atlanta with her husband, Phil, who is also a professional speaker/author.  

Bonnie Ross-Parker

770-333-7923 (Atlanta)
Xperience Connections