Become a mentor for women in the restaurant industry
Good mentoring goes beyond emotional support and advice.
There are countless articles published about the importance and value of mentoring, and we recently heard many of these voices during Women’s History Month in March. Many of these articles touch on the essence and why mentoring is particularly critical for women active in the labor market.
However, for professional women in a male-dominated industry like the restaurant business, these items go beyond mere inspiration. They can be unlike a short-lived career, or that of a lasting career where you can truly leave a lasting impression on not just women, but the industry as a whole.
I immigrated to the United States at the age of 10 from the Czech Republic, without knowing a word of English. I worked two jobs in high school to help my mom make ends meet and worked three jobs while attending college full time on a scholarship. I spent a lot of time in the restaurant business, working weekends and holidays, jealous of the diners across the table. It’s true, my sheer determination has brought me to where I am now, being a wife, a mother, and gaining knowledge and experience in many male-dominated industries. But along the way, it became clear to me the importance of finding opportunities to help other women grow.
How Mentors Can Support Professional Growth
According to a recent survey, 56% of American workers have had a professional mentor, while 76% think mentoring is important. Having previously worked in male-dominated industries including construction and motorcycle gear, I am passionate about helping other women in their restaurant careers. I’ve experienced the difference that hard work and women can make, not only mentoring other women, but also bridging the gap with men in the restaurant industry to help them understand gender differences as well as the varying values that women can bring to their businesses.
Early in my career, I thought the right thing to do was to become “one of the guys”, understanding the language and learning how they communicate with each other. I was passionate about my work and my projects, intensely customer-focused. service, and certainly increased confidence in the industries where I worked. But on this journey, I started to gain confidence and realized the importance of stepping out of that mold and understanding the distinct differences between men and women, especially in areas of communication. For me, I was fortunate to work in a corporate environment where these diverse voices were encouraged, even within a male-dominated industry.
Other women are not so lucky. Many don’t have the fortune I had with supportive senior management. This is where mentorship becomes critically important.
I know this because I have seen it with my own eyes, through my involvement in associations and catering organizations where I have had the luxury of meeting hundreds of other professional women. Learning from these women was instrumental in advancing my own professional career, as well as shaping the kind of mentor I have now become for other professional women – at all career levels – within my own organization. I also made it a priority to focus on nominating female colleagues for industry awards and speaking engagements within my organization so they could shine in their own spotlight, and it was also important that I encourages to attend women’s forums of various associations for additional growth opportunities.
It’s ok not to be ‘just one of the guys’
I wanted to become a strong female mentor who could show others how to be successful without having to be one of the guys. It was important to be strong and to show how to make it acceptable to be a woman, even a woman, in the industry and to set an example for others.
It is important for women to mentor other women, provide opportunities and support each other. The professional direction that women receive from other women is essential. Consider the things professional women need to be successful. Apart from professional talent and hard work, women sometimes need the support of others to champion their ideas and goals, which studies continue to show, do not always receive the same direction and priority as those of their male colleagues.
Good mentoring goes beyond emotional support and advice. It can be imperative to help growing female leaders understand and successfully navigate the political minefields that every organization faces, male-dominated or not.
Best practices for finding mentors
Finding mentors can be difficult for professional women, especially young women. Mentors, like portfolios, need to be very diverse. You should look for mentors with similar interests and different interests. Mentoring shouldn’t just be a popularity club. You should look for mentors from different age groups, as long as they have honest wisdom to share. You also need to choose mentors who can support you through tough times, but also challenge you and push you to be even better than you think. Mentors are special people who have the ability to see potential and help you reach that potential even when there are difficult situations to deal with.
With this idea, professional women of all ages can better understand what they are looking for in a mentor and how to develop their professional relationship to reach great potential, in the restaurant business or in any other industry.