International Women’s Day with a focus on mentorship for women

Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud
for service providers

Happy International Women’s Day! March 8 is the annual celebration of the important contributions women have made to the advancement of societies around the world. At Acronis, it gives us another valuable opportunity — to contemplate how organizations can advance women’s careers in technology, and provide them with all the support and encouragement they need to excel in the field of cyber protection. March is also Women’s History Month, and that inspires us to reflect on how women have always been influential in technology; for example, Jean E. Sammet, creator of the first widely used programming language; Grace Hopper, U.S. Navy Admiral turned computing pioneer; and Katherine Johnson – the orbital mathematician behind Apollo 11, to name but a few.

Having a designated day and month devoted to the celebration of women around the world is very important; but it’s also essential that we consistently highlight diversity throughout the year — and not just on special occasions. Acronis is pleased to take this month, including International Women’s Day, to emphasize the importance of diversity through company-wide events and initiatives, because diversity is our strength — which, besides being a noble pursuit, adds significantly to making the workplace a more productive and successful environment for everyone.

A powerful tool in the development of any career success involves mentorship. It is a recurring theme we have heard across our recent #CyberFit Summit Women in Tech panels; chats with our board member Lisbeth McNabb, and internal stakeholders and partners when discussing how to further development of women in technology. Mentors are important not only for how productive employees and, by extension, their companies are; but also for providing a sounding board and positive reinforcement in the lives of those they mentor. They are sympathetic, they listen well, and they have the ability to inspire. They are also honest, holding a mirror to their mentee to help them build on strengths and strengthen weaknesses. There is a difference between a manager, whose job it is to help their employees grow and develop, and a mentor. However, for both managers and mentors, the key to helping someone grow personally and professionally, according to Acronis’ Chief Human Resources Officer Dan Meyers, is to speak to people the way the person wants to be spoken to; not the way the mentor or manager might want to be spoken to.

We’ve established that managers and mentors are different. But there are so many other ways this is true. For example, mentors don’t have to be workplace colleagues or executives. In our recent LinkedIn chat, Lisbeth McNabb reminds us that mentors can be found anywhere. In her circles, McNabb is known as a maximizer; able to help focus and maximize the talents of anyone — whether they are someone she met on the bus or an Uber trip; her mentee; or a side-by-side collaborator. In addition to mentoring relationships, McNabb credits personal and professional “huddles,” as Acronis #CyberFit Summit speaker Brooke Baldwin calls them, as a powerful resource for women supporting women. Like Baldwin’s huddles, McNabb has found inspiration in what she calls “trust groups”. McNabb explained the power of these groups in a recent Twitter chat with Acronis: “Eight years ago, I formed a forum with a trusted peer and we built a trust group with diversity of backgrounds, races and experiences to build our next chapter. To dream and go big. It was amazing. Everyone achieved something big they set their heart and mind to.”

Whether you call it a huddle, a trust group, or a mentoring relationship, these all have something in common, a partnership focused on helping each other grow and develop. Sharing teachings and holding the mirror to one another to help them learn from each other and excel in their personal and professional lives.

In addition to providing personal support and guidance, mentors can also make great efforts to introduce you to people who can help advance your career — as they’re personally invested in your success. Last November, during our Women in Tech panel at the Acronis #CyberFit Summit in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Svetlana Sorokina, Managing Director for Ingram Micro, said that “The personal story of my success in my professional career is my mentors, and I can truly say that I would not be sitting here now without their support and help. Proactively helping me in spite of my mistakes, they were really helping me to grow and that’s massive help. I think one of the things that companies can do is create mentorship programs for women to really get that diversity problem solved.”

Mentorships can also be beneficial for both the mentor and the mentee in that there are opportunities for both to learn and grow from each other. This relationship enables not only unity of experience — women helping women in tech, where women are often underrepresented — but it also encourages both parties to understand their differences, and the different perspectives they bring with them.

But a mentor is not just someone willing to listen and give advice or guidance. As Acronis Chief Financial Officer Sharchar Rabbe shares, mentors can be those who offer exposure to meetings and projects at a level where another employees may not ordinarily be included. They give the space for someone to speak or take on a reach project, and provide the support to help them succeed there. But most importantly, a mentor must be a kind and sympathetic listener, empathetic, and understand that achieving diversity in the workplace and in life is an ongoing mission that always makes us stronger — in business and in life.  

Watch this space and follow Acronis on social media as we commemorate International Women’s Day, continue to honor the achievements of women in technology and look ahead to what more we can all do to help bridge the diversity gap in the IT industry.

Christopher Hartman
Corporate Editor
Christopher Hartman, Corporate Editor, Acronis, has over 20 years of experience in publishing and technology firms. Among his other writings, he’s authored three books on high-tech topics. He oversees the Acronis Style Guide, and edits all company content to ensure consistency and accuracy.

About Acronis

A Swiss company founded in Singapore in 2003, Acronis has 15 offices worldwide and employees in 50+ countries. Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud is available in 26 languages in 150 countries and is used by over 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.