MENTORING FOR WOMEN - INTERVIEW WITH LAURA ASPESI, PLANT MANAGER MODECOR ITALIANA
MENTORING FOR WOMAN
INTERVIEW WITH LAURA ASPESI, PLANT MANAGER MODECOR ITALIANA
For the occasion of International Women’s Rights Day, on the 8th of March, to remember both social, economic, and political achievements, as well as the discrimination and violence to which women in every part of the world have been and still are subject to, we have chosen to publish an article dedicated to ‘Mentoring for women’, through an interview with Laura Aspesi, Plant Manager for Modecor and coordinator of the women’s group ‘Minerva’ of Federmanager Varese.
Casa Optima wishes all the women that work with commitment and passion in the companies of the group (they are 48%) a happy 8th of March!
What is mentoring and what is its purpose?
Mentoring is the professional relationship between two individuals, usually a senior (the mentor) and a junior (the mentee). Through a series of discussions, it is possible to address a work or personal issue with the support of the more experienced person who listens, supports and, if necessary, shares some specific episodes of their path. I believe it’s a great fortune to be able to count on a more experienced person, internal or external to the company, who in delicate moments can act as a mirror and help us in a process of reflection or when it comes to making a major decision.
For Federmanager Varese, you deal with ‘female mentoring.’ What does this imply?
I am the coordinator of the women’s group Minerva for FM Varese since September 2020, which supports the development of female talent through specific actions that enhance merit and therefore help the approach towards equal opportunities which is also part of the global goal of 2030. At the beginning of 2021, based on the experience of other local coordinators, we decided to open a mentoring project “for women”, with female mentors and mentees, specifically to respect the particularity of our mission. We trained 24 professional couples in the area, from local companies ; the mentors offered six hours of support pro-bono to a group of mentees of various age groups , who put at stake a series of work and personal issues, which can be found as a common factor in the analysis of the Italian work and cultural situation; for example : change or loss of job in different moments of their professional career, re-entry after maternity leave, relationships with superiors or colleagues and reconciliation of private life and work. Considering the results obtained we will repeat the experience again this year.
Are gender differences still widespread in the work environment? What tools exist to bridge this gap?
Gender differences are measured using specific indicators that concern various fields, of which the work sector is usually the most cited, (for example in Europe EIGE is used and Italy is in 14th position among the European nations). From this point of view Italy is approximately seven points below the European average, and the gap is much more pronounced in higher levels of employment and in specific professional sectors, (especially technical). Starting from the ‘National Strategy for Gender Equality’ 2021-2026, the Recovery and Resilience Plan has fielded approximately 20 billion to undertake concrete actions over the next five years on the Mission 5 “Cohesion and social Inclusion”, (which will also be measured with dedicated indicators, + 5 points in the EIGE index). What could really make a difference in a medium to long term period is the access of women in leadership roles in companies and above all in the political world, plus cultural change, which can be achieved starting from the initial scholastic stages by directing girls towards career paths in STEM, which are currently considered only by a minority, and vice versa boys towards the “care” paths which are now typically occupied by a female majority. These are indeed slow cultural changes, however, if I think about my own personal experience as a student of the Polytechnic in which women were less than 10%, I can certainly see that things are quite different from thirty years ago.
What advice can you give to the women that are going through a major career change?
First of all, I would give the advice that my mother, who was a primary school teacher, has always given me: “Never settle for less and defend your independence.” I think it’s a good summary to establish an ambitious and solid path, at any level. Since unfortunately, women are always subject to double examination concerning professionalism and how to behave, which risks making everything more difficult, my second piece of advice is to never take yourself too seriously, this will help you deal with even the most difficult moments.