Written on 20 April 2021.
Supporting women graduates from ethnic minority backgrounds: this is the mission of the [email protected] mentoring programme run by the Club XXIème Siècle. As a partner of the programme for the second consecutive year, the EDHEC Open Leadership for Diversity & Inclusion Chair undertook a survey on the effects of the support provided to mentees. The programme helps participants overcome the problems associated with the double glass ceiling they face as a result of their gender and ethnic origin. The results from the latest edition show the programme serves as a real confidence-booster for these women and helps them take their career in hand.
Women originating from ethnic minority backgrounds share at least two characteristics likely to hinder them on the job market: their gender and their ethnic origin. These characteristics often combine with other barriers that can also influence their career prospects (age, social origin, cultural differences, perception of religion, etc.). These women can be confronted with stereotypes that distort the way they are perceived, treated and evaluated at work. This then makes it harder for them to access the information and codes enabling them to forge their way in professional circles. Without necessarily recognising these barriers, these women share the feeling that “beyond the abilities and the efforts made, there’s always something that’s not right, that the path is littered with obstacles”.
It is precisely the combination of these criteria of discrimination that is hard to understand and to overcome. This explains why the Club XXIème Siècle set up the [email protected] programme and wanted to measure the impact with the help of the EDHEC Open Leadership for Diversity & Inclusion Chair.
The 2020 edition of the mentoring programme involved 20 participants, all higher education graduates, with an average of nearly 10 years of career experience in highly varied sectors.
The nine-month programme comprises individual support (sessions with a Club XXIème Siècle mentor), as well as regular workshops (leadership conference, meetings with inspirational people and testimonies).
The results of the survey conducted by the Chair’s researchers show the programme yields benefits for mentees both in terms of their career and well-being.
The programme is designed to help participants attain tangible objectives: learn to communicate better, improve their visibility and recognition, find a better work-life balance, develop professional networks, better understand company codes, while also meeting inspirational people. By bringing these women together around a dynamic process of exchange and experience-sharing, the programme helps them develop a sense of sorority, this being one of the major contributions of [email protected]. The goal is to create strong links between the women that endure long after they have completed the programme, thanks to the complicity, mutual help and sense of solidarity nurtured throughout their time together.
“ More than a double glass ceiling, the participants in the programme face a sinuous pathway fraught with dead-ends. As women originating from ethnic minority backgrounds, they often find it harder to forge their way through the labyrinth of professional life and realise their objective. Thanks to this mentoring, they regain confidence in themselves, bolster their networks and learn to find their bearings in this labyrinth”
explains Hager Jemel, Director of the Open Leadership Chair