After 17 years with The Hartford, Oscar Harris is moving on – within the company, that is.
The claim account executive is enrolled in the company's PODERLift (Program of Development for Exceptional Results) mentorship program, which is designed to support high-performing Latinx and Black professionals by developing an individual's skills and network in preparation for a leadership role.
"I am exploring my next career opportunity within The Hartford. I want to be intentional with my preparation, growth and development,” Harris says. “I want to be ready for my future role before I find it or something of interest becomes available. PODERLift allows me to develop with a group of highly talented individuals who also want to grow and boost their individual candidacy."
A co-lead of the Florida North chapter of the company’s employee resource group BIPN (Black Insurance Professionals Network), Harris is a skilled networker and routinely organizes impactful cross-team events for the group. Even so, formal mentorship affords additional visibility and growth opportunities.
“I liked that the concept of a PODERLift mentor isn’t someone who just gives you feedback and advice. They walk this career path with you side-by-side. They can give you access to their network,” Harris says. “Mentorship begins to transition and grow into a quasi-sponsorship. To me that’s pretty powerful,” Harris says. “It’s allowed me to gain exposure to the broader organization, while also preparing me for those opportunities and conversations.”
The hour-long monthly mentor sessions resulted in one more unexpected win, too.
“It helped me truly understand what I had accomplished in the last 17 years. To say it’s been a boost of confidence would be an understatement,” Harris says. “In redoing my resume, redoing my LinkedIn, I realized, this guy’s not half bad on paper,” he says with a laugh. “Maybe I've been selling myself short.”
Workplace Mentoring Evolves To Address Bias
Programs such as PODERLift speak to the evolution of corporate mentorship programs, which place a focus on creating equitable advancement opportunities.
Looking at CEO leadership across the U.S. to date, only 21.1% of all CEOs are women, 78.9% are men, and the most common ethnicity overall was white at 81.6%.2