Mentorship for women breaks down barriers in the corporate market

With two years of existence, the Mais Por Elas project aims to expand its outreach to women in vulnerable situations

By Deborah Oliveira

Created two years ago by the Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada (CCBC) to strengthen female presence in executive positions, the Mais Por Elas mentorship program celebrates its initial results in partnerships and in implementing diversity and inclusion aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5. Designed to assist female executives in management and leadership roles in developing skills for personal and professional growth, Mais Por Elas emphasizes the importance of overcoming limiting beliefs to break down barriers in the corporate market.

The meetings conducted have shown that interaction and idea exchange not only result in better management but also provide inspiration for mentees to navigate their professional paths. This is exemplified by Bárbara Marcheza, who at 28 years old is already a partner at the Tavares Novis law firm, an associate of the CCBC, and participated in a mentoring project for the first time.

Bárbara sought answers to her professional inquiries but also wanted to understand and learn how to overcome unconscious biases and beliefs that limit growth. “One of them is the impostor syndrome, which tends towards self-sabotage when we believe we are not capable of holding a position because we feel unprepared for it,” she points out.

Issues related to limiting beliefs gained relevance during Bárbara’s mentoring sessions with Maria da Paz, an expert in corporate social responsibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion, who works at the Trench, Rossi, Watanabe law firm, an associate of the CCBC. “Impostor syndrome is real. We see efficient professionals who struggle to reach higher positions. It’s necessary to observe ourselves, appreciate our strengths, and work on what we lack,” evaluates Maria.

For Bárbara, the experience was very rewarding, and the feedback provided by her mentor during the program helped her identify the next steps in her career in a structured manner, as well as understand how these concepts are important for growth.

Lessons on women’s leadership in the corporate environment and overcoming daily barriers also had a positive impact on Beatriz Januário, who works at FCR Law firm and also had her first experience as a mentee. “The contact with someone who has been working longer, like Verena Lorenz, in the recruitment area, offered a broader view of processes and contributed to understanding that a career is built step by step over time,” she observes.

From the creation of Mais Por Elas to acting as a mentor

Maria da Paz was one of the individuals actively involved in creating Mais Por Elas, from various fronts regarding the project’s conception to serving on the diversity and inclusion committee of the CCBC. During the development phase, the teams took great care in deciding how it would be conducted. “The program was designed for women, and I could bring in my previous experience as a mentor for programs with vulnerable communities. I notice a lot of progress. Once women know themselves better, they contribute much more to organizations, handling business and clients differently,” she explains.

She emphasizes the collective construction achieved by the project and the Chamber’s concern in preparing mentors through training with highly qualified professionals. “The CCBC allowed us a lot of freedom to conduct the project, and that was a very positive point because the program could be tailored to the needs of each mentee,” she reveals.

For the future, the executive believes it’s essential to extend the program to more vulnerable women. “Social multiplication is important. We need to have a more empathetic outlook and share experiences,” she considers.

For 2024, the CCBC aims to expand the program to include disadvantaged women and those involved in international trade. “Mentorship brings significant gains for professional and personal growth, helping women recognize themselves as competent professionals. The project also promotes networking, which brings significant gains for the career. The CCBC wants to further expand its work with Mais Por Elas, helping more professionals achieve leadership positions,” evaluates Cássia Regina Vanicola, Chief Operating Officer of the CCBC & CAM-CCBC and mentor.