By Michele Meyer-Shipp
As I sat down to share my thoughts on Women’s History Month, I found myself looking back on my own career—the decisions I have made, challenges I’ve encountered, and all that I’ve achieved. With each memory, I also found myself thinking about the people who helped me along the way, including a man named Albert Kroll.
I met Al when I was working for the New Jersey Department of Labor as the head of the Commission for Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action. He was Commissioner Kroll at that time, an extremely supportive and generous leader who fully engaged me as a member of his team, sought my input on all HR matters involving the Commission, and importantly, empowered me to be a leader in my own right.
Al was a great ally who was actively invested in the growth and development of all his people, even if it meant having them move on to other roles. I was a witness to, and a beneficiary of, his passion for doing this: About a year after I started working with him, Al called me into his office and told me he was impressed by my ability to collaborate, and influence and drive change. He also told me he had recommended me for a promotion to a position in a completely different department.
I will never forget Al, or the way he advocated for me and helped propel my career. By taking the time to recognize my strengths and mentor me on things I could improve, he helped me grow personally as well as professionally, and gave me the confidence to take on the types of risks that kept me moving ahead.
As we commemorate Women’s History Month, I encourage you to become an ally, mentor, or sponsor to someone who is different from you. It can be something as simple as noticing that the woman sitting across from you in a meeting would like to say something, and enabling her to do so. Or do what Al did for me—take the time to understand the strengths of the women on your teams, empower them to lead and then advocate for them. Help them see the potential that you see, and stake your own reputation on their success. Because when you do, you will be incredibly successful too.
Michele Meyer-Shipp is Chief Diversity Officer of KPMG. To arrange an interview, please contact Candace. Rivera.