HUNTER women need to ask their employers for mentoring or risk losing out on vital avenues to career development, two prominent local businesswomen say.
Dr Eileen Doyle, a director on companies including GPT Group and Boral who has also held executive roles at Port Waratah Coal Service and Newcastle Port Corporation, and Shivani Gupta, founder of the Passionate People Institute and owner of three Endota Spa salons in the Hunter, are advocates for women speaking up to progress.
Dr Doyle says mentors are an important part of a woman’s development in business because they provide practical examples and support while challenging ideas to help personal maturity.
She said there were different forms of mentors – including formal and informal types – and that she had personally benefited from them in her distinguished career.
“Two key things I have learnt from a series of mentors are to really listen to others before you speak, and confront conflict early, because it won’t go away,” she says.
Dr Doyle said women must “be bold and ask” for a mentor because they were not typically assigned one. She believed informal mentoring was often more effective than a formal process.
Ms Gupta, whose company runs ongoing mentoring courses, said she currently had two mentors – one for life and spiritual matters, another for business. She says while informal mentoring was accessible for women in executive roles, it eluded women who were in the initial stage of their careers or in middle management.
Given firms would not champion informal mentoring because its success could not be measured, she urged women to ask for mentors.
“Women say to me ‘I’ll pay for it myself’ and I say ‘have you even asked your company to go halves?’” she said.
Ms Gupta said while equity in the workplace was a complex issue, she believes women are not making ground at executive levels because they are not being invested in early on: “Unless we get women to believe in themselves at a much earlier stage in their career, that will continue.”