-By Funmi Falobi-
The United States has reiterated its commitment to advocating for and including women in the workplace both in the United States and abroad.
Speaking at a mentoring workshop held in Lagos with the theme “Transforming the Future: Women Mentoring Women in the Workplace,” United States Consul General, John Bray said the programme of structured mentoring was created by the Department of State’s Human Resource bureau to address a number of challenges. Bray who noted he had served as a mentee and mentor during his time in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Department of State said, “Like many of you at your companies, the Department of State was looking for a way to retain its best employees and develop future leaders.
“We recognised that we needed to take steps to ensure that our leadership was both ethnically and gender diverse. And equally important, we wanted to provide a mechanism for knowledge sharing between older and younger employees. The starting point for addressing these issues was a structured mentoring program.”
He recalled that the first female diplomat was hired in the 1920s but she had to resign when she married stressing that the “marriage rule” was not abolished until the late 1970s.
“When I joined the Department, the State Department workforce was 27 percent, most of these people doing clerical work. It is now 40 percent, but still not the 50 percent we are committed to achieving. The number of female diplomats has remained steady at 30 percent for the past decade.
“The percentage of senior positions held by women at the State Department is at an all-time high – 30 percent. Through structured mentoring programs run by Executive Women at State and our Human Resources bureau we are working to increase the number of women in line with our goal of having a workforce that reflects the makeup of U.S. society.
“To support women internationally, we established the office of Global Women’s affairs in 1995. We have identified assisting women to achieve senior positions in both the private and public sector as a priority. One of the many programs that we have includes the Global Women’s Mentoring program. I know that a number of Nigerian women have participated in this program, a collaboration between Fortune and the Department of State, as well as TechWomen and other programs,” he said.
Addressing the participants, Public Affairs Officer, Darcy Zotter, said that to have a successful mentoring, the mentor must build relationship with the mentee, ask questions and create mentoring agreement.
“You must be able to define your relationship, build rapport and trust, and identify what you want to achieve through mentoring,” she said.
A participant and a media practitioner, Mrs. Funke Treasure-Durodola, Assistant Director, Programmes, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, FRCN, Lagos Operations said a lot still need to be done on mentoring in the Nigerian media industry.
“For every organization there should be a mentoring programme. This is what they should do. It has to be well established, backed by the management.
“In media, we should do more of structured mentoring. Many veterans perhaps did not think of mentoring others. We need it especially women. Men have a way of tapping into mentoring than women. We need more women in management,” she said.