On February 18, Aspiring Women of Color (AWOC) relaunched with an open house. The Affinity Group welcomed women of all colors, with a range of experiences, to gather, chat and learn about the group’s mission and goals.
This year, Marsades Porter, family preservation specialist supervisor will lead the group along with Lilia Figueroa, child welfare supervisor and Maria Andrade, child welfare support manager.
All Are Welcomed
“This group was created to help women who aspire to be leaders,” Porter says. “We’re giving tools for women to succeed.” AWOC supports a safe space for dialogue, helps members navigate the workplace and provides a mentorship program.
Figueroa points to Andrade as her own mentor and says she’s always been there for her through her journey at SaintA.
Porter hopes to grow the mentorship program this year. “You don’t have to be a supervisor to be a leader. You can be a leader on your team,” she says, encouraging everyone to widen their perception of leadership. If you’re not ready for mentoring yet, Porter says being a mentee is what can help employees learn and grow.
Non-women of color are encouraged to be allies and to be a part of the mentorship program.
At the start of the meeting, each attendee received a small bag of M&M’s that would spark the initial discussion. Each color signified a question, which revealed stories about inspirational moms and grandmothers, feeling stagnate in the workplace and first jobs. The anecdotes were laced with personal lessons and advice that perfectly captured the group’s purpose.
Porter says she knew she was ready for leadership when she realized she was a person people looked to for assistance and her willingness to always help when needed. But to those who aren’t as sure, she reminds them, “Sometimes you can’t see what other people see in you. If someone is telling you to go for it, accept it.” And most of all, she says to remember that you don’t have to be in leadership or desire to be in leadership to carry the title of a leader.
The group will be closed to create a safe space that allows for honest, intimate and respectful dialogues. Porter stresses this year members will choose the topics covered in the meetings to ensure the professional needs of the members are being met. These topics will be geared around race and gender in the workplace, networking, professionalism, or something unrelated and lighthearted.
Mission and Purpose
AWOC’s mission is to provide opportunities within the agency by bringing women of color together by fostering leadership to enhance capacity for personal and professional development.
AWOC is the second affinity group at SaintA after the LGBTQ Affinity Group, which also works toward a more inclusive environment, but focuses on identity and sexuality.
An Affinity Group is a collective of staff members with shared interest coming together to support one another in the workplace.
AWOC drew inspiration from similar groups that were created in the 1960s, to help end isolation of black employees as corporations became more integrated.
To learn about the SaintA Equity Council, which sponsors the Affinity Groups, read, 5 Questions with SaintA Equity Council and 3(more) questions with SaintA Equity Council
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