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Sheila Wellington

      . . . President of Catalyst since 1993. Founded in 1963, Catalyst is the premiere nonprofit research and advisory organization working to advance women in business. Ms. Wellington was the first woman Secretary of Yale University. A former public health professional, she is also author, along with her colleagues at Catalyst, of Be Your Own Mentor

Excerpts3:30 secs

      Nobody makes it in business without a mentor, according to Sheila Wellington, President of Catalyst, a leading source of information about women in business. Their studies indicate that the better mentoring you get, the better your advancement in the workplace will be. This is particularly true for women, she reports.

      Studies show women vastly under-represented in America‚s executive corporate suites and on their Boards. At the same time the „pipelineš is increasingly filled with qualified women, record numbers of them are leaving private and public-sector organizations. They take their ideas and experience with them (and studies also show that when they leave, they don‚t come back.) Why? Women report they want more control of their lives. And they want choices.

      Since big organizations cannot afford to loose these valuable people, says Ms. Wellington, corporate and business management and managers still have work to do. The good news is that she believes these organizations are particularly well suited to the task of living up to the American dream of advancement based on merit. Change can happen, when it comes from the top and is subsequently institutionalized.

      Ms. Wellington‚s own career began in public health, where she learned the vital importance of parenting and the profound impact of life‚s mentors. Catalyst‚s studies show this also applies in the business world. Women, especially women of color, are too often left out of the mentoring loop. Ms. Wellington is confident that the likelihood a young man rather than a young woman will be mentored is neither intentional nor vicious. She thinks it‚s more a matter of comfort. When you don‚t go to „T.G.I.Fš together, you miss not only the grapes but the grapevine, she says.

      So what? Among other things access to informal networks directly affects the „line/staffš issue, reports Ms. Wellington. Profit-and-loss (line) jobs lead to the executive suite. For the most part, staff jobs ų human resources, public relations, government relations ų don‚t. While there are certainly advantages to staff positions, Ms. Wellington wants women to have the choice and be aware of the consequences. Which, of course, gets us back to mentoring.

[This Program was recorded May 20, 2001 in Atlanta, Georgia, US.]

Conversation 1

Sheila Wellington tells point Paula Gordon and Bill Russell what she means when she says we are living at an „inflectionš point in history. She compares today to the Industrial Revolution.

Conversation 1 RealAudio6:26 secs


Conversation 2

Ms. Wellington summarizes the work of Catalyst, demonstrating how its work facilitates choices for women. She challenges what she describes as the "corrosive myth of the second paycheck." A discussion about merit and affirmative action ensures, in which Ms. Wellington offers facts and figures about who actually holds upper level positions in the American workforce. She reviews Catalyst‚s largest study ever Ų examining the status of women of color.

Conversation 2 RealAudio10:35 secs


Conversation 3

Ms. Wellington reviews the results of Catalyst‚s Women of Color Study (http://www.catalystwomen.org) at the managerial and professional levels in organizations. Certain that no human being can be successful without a mentor (a guide, a coach, an advocate, someone to show you the ropes,) Ms. Wellington explains why the lack of a mentor is a particularly significant barrier to advancement of women in the workforce. She expands. Ms. Wellington gives examples of successful informal and formal mentoring relationships, and puts today‚s dramatic social changes in context.

Conversation 3 RealAudio10:23 secs


Conversation 4

Ms. Wellington reviews the results of Catalyst‚s Women of Color Study (http://www.catalystwomen.org) at the managerial and professional levels in organizations. Certain that no human being can be successful without a mentor (a guide, a coach, an advocate, someone to show you the ropes,) Ms. Wellington explains why the lack of a mentor is a particularly significant barrier to advancement of women in the workforce. She expands. Ms. Wellington gives examples of successful informal and formal mentoring relationships, and puts today‚s dramatic social changes in context.

Conversation 4 RealAudio11:07 secs


Conversation 5

The importance of institutionalizing changes is considered. Citing studies of the high cost of turnover among managerial executive personnel, Ms. Wellington considers the economic implications of a diverse workforce. She addresses the „line/staffš issues women face. She explains Catalyst‚s „glass wallsš concept. She encourages women to choose rather than drift into their business roles and suggests some of the advantages to different career paths. Drawing on Ms. Wellington‚s own experiences, a variety of roles for mothers are explored.

Conversation 5 RealAudio11:08 secs


Conversation 6

Catalyst has documented special challenges faced by women of color in the workplace, says Ms. Wellington, who gives details. She expresses concern about managers who fail in their overall responsibility to focus on all subordinates‚ advancement. Ms. Wellington shares the excitement she feels about Catalyst‚s work.

Conversation 6 RealAudio4:26 secs


Acknowledgements

We were delighted to welcome Sheila Wellington, whose excellent reputation, along with that of Catalyst, preceded her. We look forward to advancing together. Thanks to her staff and the Random House publicity department for making this conversation possible.

Related Links:
Be Your Own Mentor, by Sheila Wellington and Catalyst, is published by Random House
Catalyst‚s website is a wide-ranging resource for exploring the experiences of women in the workplace.


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