Mentor Spotlight: Netta Jenkins and Diversity in Mentorship
Today’s Mentor Spotlight focuses on Netta Jenkins, a graduate of Cambridge College and Head of Diversity and Inclusion at IAC Applications. Netta uses her experience as an agent for workplace equality to inform how she mentors. Sabrina had the chance to sit down with Netta and talk to her about her career, mentors, and the valuable lessons she has learned along the way.
Would you like to start by giving a quick introduction of yourself?
I’m Director and Head of Diversity and Inclusion for IAC Applications that supports four businesses- DailyBurn, Apalon, Ask Applications, and SlimWare. These businesses create software products and applications that essentially make consumer lives easier, and we have a global reach that has an app in every country in the world.
Can you describe your specific role at IAC Applications?
I focus on diversity and inclusion specifically on what I call the three P’s- products, people, and programs. I’m focused on systemic changes like promotions, retention, compensation, and performance evaluation- really addressing disparity head on.
I want to ensure that underrepresented groups (women, people of color, LGBTQ, disabled) are receiving the same opportunities to grow and rise to the top. I create programs that are inclusive to all and drive stronger allyship. I help shed light on challenges that people from underrepresented groups face and how we can help change this.
I also make sure our products and marketing are reflective of the makeup of society. I’m just really helping to create an inclusive work environment for all.
To pivot to your role as a mentor, what prompted you to become a mentor at Cambridge College?
I graduated with my Masters in Business Management from Cambridge College, and I was also the 2014 graduate commencement speaker. For me, it was really crucial to give back to the school and have a positive impact on students.
My mentors pushed me toward new experiences, and it helped me to improve my weaknesses. I really believe you are never too experienced to have a mentor. My mentor has really helped me break out of my comfort zone, blossom in unfamiliar areas, and gain knowledge. I wanted to be able to give a similar effective experience back to the students at Cambridge College as well.
Now that you’ve worked so extensively with supporting diversity, how do you think mentorship can play a role in promoting diversity and inclusion?
Mentorship can play a huge role in promoting diversity and inclusion. Mentorship allows people that don’t typically connect with people from underrepresented groups to learn and share experiences. Both parties can leave with a new perspective that is essentially life changing.
What advice would you give to mentors who want to do a better job supporting mentees in underrepresented groups?
I think the biggest advice is to allow the mentee to share their story. Sometimes as mentors, all we need to do is listen. That’s the key to being a successful mentor. After listening the mentor should be able to share their story as well, so both parties feel comfortable. But it’s really key to learn about the mentee’s experience and listen to their story because that way you can better help them and relate to them as well.
You mentioned earlier that you’ve had some mentors in your own life. Who are those mentors, and what are some of the lessons they’ve taught you?
First, my best friend, Jenell Stewart. She’s still one of my mentors to this day. She’s a beauty expert- she’s been on the Dr. Oz Show, and she’s just a phenomenal entrepreneur who has built an empire.
Another person would be my current boss, Chief People Officer, Deb Josephs. She allows me to be creative and refocus on key goals. I’m a driver, and I tend to want to accomplish a million goals at once. She knows my work style and offers excellent advice but doesn’t tell me what to do- I think that’s always key.
Mike Boyd is another inspiring mentor. He’s an exceptional executive recruiter. In the infant stages of my career, he definitely offered incredible guidance. He gave me exceptional tips that really ignited my career in recruiting.
Salli Frattini is another person. She’s the first female to produce the Super Bowl Halftime Show. I had my own casting company while I was in college from about 2007 to 2014, and throughout that period she was phenomenal. Not only was she a mentor to me, but she also connected me with clients – super supportive.
My husband, Eric Jenkins is more of my spiritual mentor. When I face challenges, he prays with me. He’s definitely my spiritual coach.
My mom, Nellie Anderson, is my leadership mentor. She ran three clothing boutiques when I was younger and is currently launching a bag line that will probably be launched in Africa, so that’s pretty exciting. She taught me some incredible life and business lessons.
Another mentor is the Director of Recruiting, Leigh Hartman. She encouraged me to focus on diversity and inclusion because she knew how passionate I was about being a change agent.
Finally, Cindi Mooreland, SVP of the General Counsel is a mentor of mine. I walk into her office and bounce ideas off her all the time. She is truly phenomenal.
Mentors don’t necessarily have to have the same skill set as you. Sometimes it’s simply about life advice that can help you continue on the right path.
Obviously, you’ve had a lot of people in your life to advise and mentor you, but what is some advice you would give to your younger self if you had the chance?
Don’t stress things that you can’t control. When I was younger, I definitely did that, especially being a young person and owning my own business. There were things that I just couldn’t control, and I would get so worked up over that.
See the lesson in every win and loss and embrace the butterflies in your stomach as you conquer your fears. Many times we’re going to face challenges, and we’re going to face roadblocks. It’s really about embracing- you know when you get those butterflies in your stomach and you feel like you’re going to throw up? Work through it. Embrace it. Also, in the end, God is in control- I’m a pretty spiritual person. At the end of the day, that’s key for me.
If you want to implement a mentorship program into your organization, learn more about our platform here.