Celebrating Women’s History Month
Robinhood was founded on a simple idea: that our financial markets should be accessible to all. With customers at the heart of our decisions, Robinhood is lowering barriers and providing greater access to financial information and investing. Together, we are building products and services that help create a financial system everyone can participate in.
We’re excited to continue the celebration of Women’s History Month with Sisterhood+, our employee resource group (ERG). Sisterhood+ is an inclusive group that supports, empowers and celebrates women and gender non-conforming people at Robinhood with the core values of Community, Advocacy, and Learning and Development. Sisterhood+ celebrates women’s achievements and contributions all year long and helps build programs and opportunities to nurture and support the careers of Sisterhoodies.
For this year’s celebrations, Sisterhood+ is focusing on themes of ownership and mentorship. When we take ownership of our lives and careers, and guide others to do the same, great progress can be made. Now let’s meet two leaders from Sisterhood+, Jill Stoever, (Licensed Customer Representative — she/her) and Selene De La Cruz (Director, Content Design — she/her), to get their perspectives on these themes in light of Women’s History Month.
Can you share your perspectives on the meaning and importance of Women’s History Month?
Selene: Women’s History Month to me is both backward- and forward-looking: into the future, where we still have work to do, and into the past, to celebrate the women who paved the way for us to be where we are now. I don’t take it for granted that I was born in a time and place where women can vote, choose to have a career, and simply exist as humans. But when I look at things like the pay gap, slippage in womens’ and LGBTQIA+ rights, and the fact that only around 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women (the highest amount ever), it’s clear that the need to support and uplift women is ongoing.
And part of continuing to advocate for women+ is remembering and recognizing the ones who’ve accomplished so much in spite of adversity. Women deserve to have their accomplishments commemorated. Speaking of, shoutout to my mom: the most hardworking, warmhearted, and perceptive woman I know!
Jill: There’s an entire month dedicated to the accomplishments and milestones achieved by women, acknowledging the adversity they faced and the barriers they broke. Equally it’s an opportunity to remind others that women+ need continuous support from allies, and not only in the month of March. As important as self-advocacy is, we need to advocate for one another as well. We can continue to break barriers, but we cannot do it alone.
In light of Sisterhood+ Employee Resource Group’s focus on ownership and mentorship, who (personally or professionally) has made an impact on your life?
Selene: I feel really lucky to have had a string of manager-mentors that encouraged me in my career. They were the people who gave me the opportunities I asked for, challenged me to push myself, and helped me believe in myself simply by making it clear that they believed in me. One learning I’ll never forget was during the first week at my previous job, which happened to be Halloween. My manager — an incredibly smart and talented woman — came to work dressed as a baby. Full footie pajamas, pigtails, and a pacifier. But she still kicked butt in all her meetings, and commanded respect. It showed me that you don’t have to act super serious all the time to be taken seriously — and it was a true “bring your whole self to work” moment.
Although it was unconscious at the time, I was very proactive in all of these mentorships. I was starting to understand where I wanted to go, and being able to articulate that and follow through on conversations helped these women unlock doors for me. I do believe that with mentorship, you get out what you put in. Even if it’s just showing up with a discussion topic, it shows a commitment to your growth and that you value the mentor’s time.
Jill: Throughout the years I’ve had a few great mentors in my professional life, but without question, it’s my mom. My mom’s the eldest of seven children, and growing up she lived in a two bedroom flat with her siblings, her parents and her grandparents. She knew in order to find career opportunities and to create a better life for herself she had to leave behind the life she knew. My mom immigrated to the United States in the 1970’s when she was 20, and she only had a very distant family friend that lived here. My mom made a better life for herself, but it didn’t come without challenges. On top of gender bias, she was faced with racism and was mocked for her accent. Sometimes the language barrier made others overlook her opinion or discount her knowledge. She knew what she wanted to say, but sometimes the words didn’t come together as quickly since English was her second language.
As I’ve gotten older, I’m more and more appreciative of the sacrifices and the struggles my mom endured assimilating into a culture where she was not always supported or accepted. I don’t have to sacrifice much at all because my mother did that–she carried a weight I may never fully understand, and I’ll be forever grateful to her for it.
Sisterhood+ is an amazing community to find mentorship, guidance, and role models. How does Sisterhood+ bring mentorship to Robinhood?
Selene: Sisterhood+ literally brings mentorship to Robinhoodies with our Sisterhood+ mentorship program. It’s extremely well run — with personalized, hand-selected matching between mentors and mentees, meeting dates set up for pairs, and a guide to get pairs chatting and find inspiration. I’ve participated in the program as both a mentee and a mentor, and both experiences were super valuable. I loved being able to connect with more tenured Hoodies when I first joined, and more recently being able to give back as a mentor. I really appreciate that our program includes Robinhoodies across levels, verticals, and affiliations as well. It’s truly a group that embodies the inclusivity the “+” in the Sisterhood+ name represents. We even have Vlad as a mentor this quarter!
I’ve also found that Sisterhood+ creates opportunities for mentorship in less formal ways. For each chapter, we have donut coffee chats, meet regularly for lunch, and find ways to connect through volunteering and social activities. It’s all fun, and great moments to learn from each other, gain outside perspectives, and connect with other Sisterhoodies+. I personally have connected with quite a few people from this group since starting the NYC chapter, and I often go to them for advice and insights.
I tend to think we have a really strong management team here at Robinhood, but sometimes you need advice or reflections from someone who’s a bit removed from your day-to-day, or who can simply give you a boost before a difficult conversation. I definitely encourage everyone to take advantage of the program and the Sisterhood+ community.
Jill: Regardless of the stage in your career, it’s important to have a mentor! Some think after a certain point in your career, mentorship ends. The truth is, each mentor you have throughout your career will provide a unique perspective; and no two mentors are the same. Sisterhood+ developed a company-wide mentorship program where we match mentees with mentors across our departments and various career levels remotely and throughout all of our different sites. In our four Mentorship Program cohorts in 2022, we have matched around 200 mentors and mentees together!
The beauty of our Mentorship Program is it’s far from cookie cutter! Our mentors are given a Mentorship Guide filled with resources to use if they would like, but they are able to tailor the program specifically to their mentee. Having this flexibility has provided an opportunity for our mentees to set their own, individual goals and for our mentors to help them reach those in the way they deem best for their mentee. The best part of the program is hearing directly from the mentors and mentees and the impact this program has made for them. Many continue their relationship even after the three month cohort ends, and we see many mentees grow into mentors and come back to the program!
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