Earlier this year, ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, partnered with Diversey Care, a division of Sealed Air, to establish a mentoring program through the ISSA Hygieia Network (IHN) to cultivate the success of women in the janitorial/sanitation industry. Mentors are now available to be matched with mentees—professionals at any stage in their careers.
IHN is the first women’s network for the global cleaning community. Named for Hygieia, the ancient Greek goddess of good health, cleanliness, and sanitation, the IHN program provides a wide range of benefits to mentees, including opportunities to develop new skills; access to independent, objective perspectives; increased confidence in dealing with issues; networking opportunities; and assistance in setting and achieving career goals.
“We’re excited to be able to offer [the mentoring] program to individuals within the professional cleaning industry,” said Ilham Kadri, Ph.D., IHN chairwoman. “The program goes hand-in-hand with our interest in expanding opportunities for women at all levels within our industry. It will teach and empower women with many of the tools and life-skills they need to succeed and reach their full potential.”
A mentor is paired with a mentee seeking professional guidance from someone with more experience. The mentor and mentee then communicate regularly to establish and achieve professional goals. The mentorship relationships are guided by a Code of Conduct, agreed to by the mentor and mentee, ensuring their interactions are confidential. Mentees are asked to send their mentors questions or topics prior to each connection, then follow up with a recap. These actions allow both the mentor and mentee to have a clear understanding of what was discussed, what actions should be taken, and the progress subsequently made by the mentee.
“Having had a mentor myself, I’m a huge advocate of the process,” said Hannah Kennedy, ISSA membership and outreach manager. “My mentor elevated my understanding of business practices, such as time management, task management, and assertiveness. This was very early in my career, so I developed a solid work ethic at a young age.”
John Barrett, ISSA executive director, added “Let us never forget that in the cleaning industry, as in every walk of life, women's rights are human rights. Gender equality and the empowerment of women are essential to our sustainable future.”