At Ceresa, we meet a lot of senior women who are excited to mentor with us so they can have real impact with the time they commit. Since we prefer to meet each mentor, sometimes it is easier to host events where we can gather 30-40 of these women in one place and get to know them while sharing great stories from other women leaders. We all get the benefit of a fun event with great women, and the new mentors have a chance to learn more about Ceresa.
We are planning one such event in San Francisco, so I was recently going through my contacts to see who I should invite from the Bay Area. I knew of a woman I hadn’t yet met but wanted to invite. She works for a venture capital firm, and I know one of the key executives there. I reached out to him, explained about our event, and asked if he’d be willing to forward the invite along to the woman I was trying to reach. He told me she was actually located in a different city, but offered that if I wanted to give him some more parameters about the kind of women I was looking to reach he could see if anyone in the SF office was interested. I gave some information about the kind of women we invite to be Mentors. They’re typically senior enough and have the experience enough to help guide a woman who is likely earlier in her career, which means they tend to be in more senior roles. He didn’t respond for a bit. Finally, he let me know he would give it some thought and see if he could come up with any women there who fit that description.
In retrospect, knowing all the data and facts I do about women not being well-represented in senior roles (especially in the VC space), I shouldn’t have been surprised. But because I was just having a natural interaction with someone I knew fairly well, it didn’t even occur to me when I shot over the description of our Mentors that he might have trouble finding women of that level around him.
At least twice a week I have moments like this where it hits me: “THIS is exactly why I took this job, why it’s important, and why Ceresa exists.” In some respects, women have come a long way in the workplace, but it’s not nearly far enough. I look forward to the landscape looking different in the years to come.