Some of you may have achieved great success on your own. I didn’t. I’ve been shaped and inspired by successful executives who shared their time and insights with me. Whatever success I’ve enjoyed can be attributed in part to those who gave without any expectation of reciprocity. Mentorship is largely about paying it forward.
I started my career in investment banking and was one of the lucky ones who worked for Cristina Morgan (Vice Chairman at JPMorgan). Accompanying her during IPO bake-offs and M&A negotiations gave me a front-row seat to watch her relentlessly fight for her clients. Cristina taught me the value of sticking by your customers and investing in long-term relationships, something they don’t teach in most MBA programs.
Over the last 15 years, I’ve benefited from the mentorship of Sheryl Sandberg, one of the primary leaders behind two iconic businesses: Google and Facebook. As a friend and SurveyMonkey board member, Sheryl has taught me more than a few things, but perhaps nothing more important than the value of connecting with people and providing constant, honest, and constructive feedback.
When I became CEO at SurveyMonkey, I wanted to give our employees access to leaders who inspire me. Every month we host a simple fireside chat with two stools and a microphone – and we’ve welcomed Arianna Huffington, Serena Williams, Brad Smith, Stacy Brown-Philpot, Andrew Wilson, Marne Levine, and two dozen other household names in business. Our employees appreciate the authentic, often raw, words of advice. In honor of our friend and former CEO, the late Dave Goldberg, we call it the Goldie Speaker Series.
At SurveyMonkey, we focus on creating not just a diverse workplace, but one where everyone feels a sense of inclusion. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in our goal to achieve gender parity, with 45% female representation overall, 32% in leadership, 30% in technical, and 58% in non-technical roles, according to our first public diversity report. These numbers are better than industry benchmarks, but the bar is woefully low. We’re challenging ourselves to raise it higher.
I've benefited greatly from mentors and am committed to paying it forward. That’s why it’s disturbing to see how in the wake of the #MeToo movement, some men are stepping back from doing their part. In partnership with LeanIn.Org, we found almost half of male managers are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together. This is a sobering statistic on what we, as men, should NOT be doing.
Mentoring women is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also sound business sense. More women in power will create better employee policies, better business results and less sexual harassment.
It’s more important now than ever for men – particularly those in leadership positions – to help the next generation of female leaders thrive. Mentorship matters. I commit to being part of the solution by mentoring women. I also pledge to help my male colleagues do the same.