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The Fortune-State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership goes virtual

December 7, 2020, 1:35 PM UTC
Fortune-State Department 2020 mentees meet on Zoom alongside a mentor and Vital Voices and State Department staff.
Courtesy Vital Voices

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! An e-commerce CEO steps down to prioritize his wife’s career, 40% of unemployed women have now been without work for six months or longer, and women business leaders connect across borders and time zones. Have a meaningful Monday.

– Mentoring, 2020-style. In early March, before, well, everything, Fortune was getting ready with the State Department and the nonprofit Vital Voices to bring our annual group of women business leaders from around the world to the U.S. for a three-week mentoring program.

These women—entrepreneurs and mid-career professionals—usually come stateside to shadow Fortune 500 executives and experience corporate America firsthand, applying those lessons to their own businesses when they return home. Of course, the group didn’t end up traveling to the United States this year. But thanks to the creativity of our partners at Vital Voices and the State Department, these women participated over the past several weeks in our first virtual mentoring program.

This year’s mentees—the 15th cohort to participate—took meetings and developed relationships across time zones and without a break from all their usual responsibilities at work and at home, with creative results. Enas Abdelaziz, a nonprofit executive based in Egypt, told her mentors at Accenture that she was having trouble managing her Gen Z employees; in response, the consulting and tech firm set up a panel of six Gen Z Accenture staffers to answer all her questions. Abdelaziz’s mentors, CMO and chief communications officer Amy Fuller and client account lead for North America Cathinka Wahlstrom, also helped counsel her over video chat through the departure of a much-appreciated employee.

Courtesy Vital Voices

Inas Hafez, an Egyptian digital marketing entrepreneur behind the agency GetSircles, was mentored by Julia Paige, the director of social impact at Uber. One of the benefits of working alongside a global company? Uber introduced Hafez to its staff in Cairo so her connection with the company can extend locally beyond the mentorship period, too.

Evelyn Namara, founder of the Ugandan fintech startup Vouch Digital, came out of her mentorship with Match Group chief strategy officer Faye Iosotaluno with advice on everything from how to decide between two payment solution integrators to how to determine the pricing of her company’s new subscription system—and tips for self-care.

Simran Sahni, the cofounder of Keeros Supersnacks in Lucknow, India, considers her time with Johnson & Johnson worldwide VP for environmental health, safety, and sustainability Paulette Frank to be a “mini-MBA.”

Of course, Zoom can only approximate the in-person mentoring experience so much. But we were so glad to be able to facilitate these kinds of relationships across borders while so many other forms of connection remain out of reach.

Read more about the program here. And if you’re interested in learning more or mentoring in the future, please get in touch!

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Google + Gebru. After the news last week of A.I. researcher Timnit Gebru's firing from Google, the MIT Technology Review got a copy of the research paper that led to her departure from the company. Jeff Dean, head of Google A.I., has said the paper "didn't meet our bar for publication." In it, Gebru and her coauthors "lay out the risks of large language models," which, this story notes, are "key to Google's business." MIT Technology Review

- Reason behind the resignation. Rubin Ritter, the CEO of the major German e-commerce company Zalando, announced he would step down from the role after 10 years. He offered this reason for his resignation: the need to allow his wife's professional ambitions to now take priority. Reuters

- Negative outlook. The November 2020 jobs report, released Friday, shows a slowing economy. Last month was the first since economic recovery began when more men than women left the workforce, The 19th* reports. The National Women's Law Center notes that 40% of unemployed women have now been without work for six months or longer. 

- Gates' corner. After her call for the Biden administration to appoint a caregiving czar last week, Melinda Gates is back with a new NYT Corner Office interview. The philanthropist reflects on the pandemic and global vaccination efforts—she says that she believes pharma companies making COVID-19 vaccines should only make a small profit—and her own position of privilege amid global suffering. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: PayPal promoted Amanda Miller to VP of global corporate communications. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Going glam. Ulta Beauty, led by CEO Mary Dillon, has relied on technology to change the way customers shop for beauty products during the pandemic. With traditional makeup testing a no-go, Ulta has turned to a virtual try-on tool called GLAMlab and one-on-one remote video consultations. Fortune

- Making history. The Senate Rules Committee last week voted to approve the creation of two new national museums: the National Museum of the American Latino and the American Women’s History Museum. The vote is a key step toward these projects becoming reality. Washington Post

- Millennial mochi. Naomi Hasegawa runs her family's mochi shop in Kyoto—as her ancestors have done for more than 1,000 years. The store, Ichiwa, is one of 19 businesses in Japan that say they've been operating continuously since the first millennium, putting passing the baton to the next generation above all other business priorities. New York Times

ON MY RADAR

Ciara and ex-Lululemon CEO launch new clothing brand with ‘more to it than fashion’ CNBC

And play like a girl she did New York Times

The best books of 2020, according to Fortune staff Fortune

Big Mouth recast one of its leads—and reinvented itself in the process L.A. Times

PARTING WORDS

"Today I am a gynecologist, and I owe it to her."

-Sayeda Amarkhel on Suhaila Siddiq, a surgeon and Afghanistan's first female general, who died from complications of the coronavirus