iMentor Kicks Off Mentor Pledge 2020

As a culminating celebration of National Mentoring Month, iMentor unveiled plans to recruit 1,000 new mentors to its program and boost the diversity of its mentor pool by 10 percent over the next year. The national college-success organization’s Mentor Pledge 2020 was announced before an audience of nearly 200 professionals from government, non-profit and corporate organizations at the kick-off event hosted at the Times Square office of Ernst & Young LLP (EY). The panel discussion led by corporate and public leaders within the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) field, focused on the ways that mentoring can support DEI objectives within organizations.

“As many of you know, this marks the formal launch of Mentor Pledge 2020, a campaign to recruit 1,000 new mentors,” said Max Polaner, Executive Director of iMentor NYC, opening the Innovating Leadership event. “And we're doing this in a way that strongly aligns with iMentor’s DEI commitments and those of our partner organizations. This is a system that's not built for a lot of these young people to win. So figuring out ways to navigate through very institutional challenges is a skill set that I can't see any corporation not valuing in their employees.”

Through the Mentor Pledge 2020, iMentor will collaborate with business organizations not only to recruit new mentors but also to recruit diverse mentors and people of color and empower mentors to be change agents for diversity, equity, and inclusion. The effort aligns with iMentor’s commitment to DEI and the special focus the organization places on addressing the economic and racial divides that exist within the educational system.

Founding champions of Mentor Pledge 2020 include EY, which hosted the event at its New York headquarters, as well as iMentor partners AlphaSights, Amazon, Barclays, Bloomberg, Capital One, Morgan Stanley, and UBS.

“For companies to foster a diverse workforce and an inclusive environment, , we need new kinds of leadership,” said Jamila Abston, in EY’s Financial Services Organization, , who moderated the Innovating Leadership panel discussion. “When we think about how to promote new leadership to the next level, mentorship is essential in our talent agenda and commitment.”

The panel featured a host of diversity and inclusion experts, including Erika Irish Brown, Chief Diversity Officer, Goldman Sachs; Michael Brown, Managing Director, JPMorgan; Susan Reid, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Morgan Stanley; Wendy Garcia, Chief of Diversity NYC Comptroller; and iMentor Pair, Chanel Dennis, Private Wealth Advisor at Goldman Sachs; and Paola Muñoz Rojas, college advisor, community facilitator, and feminist scholar.

All of the panelists spoke about the impact mentors have had on their own lives and careers, as well as mentoring programs within their organizations. Speaking about Goldman Sachs, Erika Irish Brown shared an example of one such initiative: “a reverse mentoring program led by our Firm-wide Black Network that specifically focuses on race. This program has gone a long way towards creating safe spaces to build education across race, which is very often one of the most difficult topics to talk about.”

iMentor NYC pair Chanel Dennis (mentor) and Paola Muñoz Rojas (former student) shared how their similar backgrounds allowed them to forge a meaningful and impactful connection from the outset. “Having a mentor who is a woman of color, it felt like the power dynamicthat usually exists between a student and mentor wasn’t there,” said Muñoz Rojas , “like I didn't have to look up to her, I just looked to her. And it felt mutual, too. I felt like she was learning from me as much as I was learning from her.”

Added Dennis, “[Paola’s] milestones became my milestones, and her priorities and challenges became my own. And helping her to navigate those actually improved my ability to be empathetic, to be understanding of someone else’s situation, to be very thoughtful and creative about solving problems that aren't really built to be solved.”

The discussion concluded with each panelist challenging the audience to take tangible actions to supporting mentoring and supporting aspiring leaders from diverse backgrounds – among them:

  • Write down the names of the individuals whose careers you have supported in some way over the last year and reflect on the diversity of that group.
  • Find out how you can join the Board of a New York City Woman and Minority-led Business through the Office of the NYC Comptroller
  • Create formal connections to Affinity Groups and business units so they have a direct influence on the organization.
  • Join the Mentor Pledge!

To learn more about the Mentor Pledge 2020 contact [email protected].