SES Women in Business Mentorship Programme

As we embarked on the Women in Business Mentorship Programme, we started with the question of how we can build solidarity in a world where systematic discrimination and violence against women persist in all aspects of life, including the business world. Our initial motivation was to create a space where women can come together, fight together, and support each other to break down the systemic barriers that hinder their equal representation in the workforce.

Farklı sektörlerden farklı deneyim kademelerindeki kadınların kariyer yolculuğu, iş-özel hayat dengesi, kişisel gelişim gibi çeşitli alanlarda birbirleriyle deneyim paylaşmalarına imkân veren projenin ilk buluşması, Ses Derneği’nin sosyal merkezinde iki ayrı seans olarak gerçekleşti. Projeye kayıtlı olan toplam 100 kadından 86 mentor ve mentinin katılım sağladığı buluşmada katılımcılar ilgilendikleri ortak konular üzerinden eşleşti.

Etkinlik kapsamında söz alan ve süreç hakkında detaylı bilgi paylaşımı yapan SES Eşitlik ve Dayanışma Derneği Kurucu Üyesi ve proje yürütücüsü Ayla Sevand, bundan sonraki iki aylık süre içinde mentor ve mentilerin kendi belirledikleri tarih ve mekanlarda dört kez daha buluşacaklarını söyledi. Süreç içinde farklı kaynak paylaşımlarıyla katılımcıların destekleneceğinin bilgisini veren Sevand, projenin kapanışını da yine büyük bir buluşmayla gerçekleştireceklerini belirtti.

We received applications from 80 businesswomen for our project, and to gain insights into their demographics and interests, we sent them a survey. After collecting and analyzing the survey responses,  we proceeded to match mentors with mentees based on shared topics of interest, where we believed they could provide support and inspiration to each other.

“When Two Women Come Together, They Can Change the World”

On January 7, 2023, we held our first meeting at our association’s social hub, serenità pera, bringing together women from different sectors and with varying levels of experience. During this introductory meeting, the participants had the opportunity to meet each other. We conveyed the objectives of the project to the participants and recommended that the matched mentors and mentees meet four times at their chosen location and time over a two-month period.

Interim Period

During the course of our project, on February 6, 2023, our country was struck by a devastating earthquake that profoundly affected us all. In the midst of this challenging period, we made concerted efforts to demonstrate solidarity and support for the women involved in the project. Conducting interim meetings, we made sure to be present and reassuringly conveyed the message, “We are here,” to let them know that they were not alone during these difficult times.

At the conclusion of the month, we distributed an evaluation survey to both our mentors and mentees, seeking their valuable feedback.

According to the survey results, our mentors and mentees had engaged in an average of three meetings by February 15. During these interactions, they expressed that sharing various aspects of life had a profoundly positive impact on their well-being. 

“Women Empower Through Solidarity”

At the conclusion of the two-month period, we gathered once again with the mentors and mentees who participated in the project. During the initial part of the closing meeting, participants had the opportunity to share their reflections on what the entire process had brought into their lives.

In the second part of the meeting, we initiated a workshop where the women were divided into groups. Within these groups, they engaged in candid discussions about the challenges they encountered in their professional lives and shared these issues with us as main themes. The following were some of the prominent issues that emerged:

  • Experiencing gender discrimination during recruitment processes and in attaining managerial positions.
  • Facing sexist discourse and biases in the workplace.
  • Receiving lower wages for equal work compared to their male counterparts.
  • Dealing with the glass ceiling syndrome, hindering their career advancement.
  • Lack of sufficient role models for women in their respective fields.
  • Perceiving children and marriage as obstacles to women’s career growth.
  • Women’s limited awareness about their employment rights.
  • Being subjected to workplace harassment, including mobbing.
  • Being held to high physical standards that are often imposed on women in the workplace.

Role of NGOs

During the meeting, the women underscored the significant role that NGOs play in striving for gender equality. They emphasized the need to establish a strong communication network between NGOs and companies, proposing that NGOs working in the domain of women’s rights should collaborate with corporate entities by having ambassadors within these companies. 

Equal Pay for Equal Work

During the discussions, the women passionately advocated for the implementation of a transparency policy in workplaces as a crucial step towards eradicating the income gap between men and women. They stressed the importance of enacting legislation that would make this policy mandatory for all companies. By doing so, workplaces would be compelled to openly disclose information about the salaries and wages of their employees, thereby promoting fairness and equal pay.

Awareness of Rights

To ensure that women are aware of their employment rights and can effectively protect them, the following suggestions were put forward:

  1. Collaborating with Bar Associations and NGOs: Organizing free seminars and workshops in collaboration with bar associations and NGOs. These events would provide women with legal expertise and guidance on employment rights, empowering them with knowledge and support.
  2. Disseminating Legal Articles: Promoting awareness by disseminating articles from key legal instruments like CEDAW, the Istanbul Convention, and the Constitution. 
  3. Awareness Campaigns by Women-Owned Brands: Initiating awareness campaigns led by women-owned brands to highlight employment rights and gender equality issues.
  4. Rights-Based Education from Elementary Level: Introducing rights-based education, including active citizenship, at the elementary school level. 
  5. Gender Equality Education: Incorporating gender equality education into the school curriculum at all levels. 

“It’s common for us to often focus on the empty side of the glass, dwelling on our shortcomings and what we lack. However, during this mentoring process, I had the opportunity to discuss my strengths and competencies with my mentor. By acknowledging my abilities and past successes, I felt more empowered and optimistic about my future.” 


“My mentee has been a tremendous source of inspiration for me throughout this journey. I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of this inspiring group of women, and it has enriched my own personal and professional growth in ways I couldn’t have imagined.”