Mentor Hannaneh Yazdi: "In the program you learn from and about each other, no matter if you’re a mentee or a mentor"

Driven by a passion to understand other human beings, and motivated by the possibility to have a positive impact on other people - that’s how Hannaneh Yazdi, mentor in Mitt Livs Chans, describes herself. A Persian woman in Sweden, a degree in engineering and management, a researcher in clinical neuroscience, she has quite the experience with diversity - which is also something she's been engaged in at Volvo Cars where she’s been working since 2017.

What inspired you to apply as a mentor in Mitt Livs Chans?

It pains me to see someone who struggles to prove themself or has started to give up being their true selves. I have many times myself felt like I wasn't not fitting into the "norm", and I can understand what you need in that situation and how much it means to get support. I’ve found Mitt Livs Chans mentoring program to be a systematic, yet flexible way to connect with people who are looking for support and to encourage them on their career and personal journey.

What were your expectations of the program, and have they been met?

As a mentor you come into the program with high ambitions to make a difference, even though there is no easy and quick solution to the problems we deal with. I experienced an organized and mature way of networking and a clear mission, as well as freedom to choose how you set up your relationship with your mentee to create a safe and informative platform.

What have you learned from the mentoring program?

In this program you learn from and about each other, no matter if you’re a mentee or a mentor. Everyone has a story, and listening to each other’s’ challenges and points of view will give you an opportunity to experience the reality of another human being. This is the foundation to start a conversation from a place of trust, understanding and belonging.

What issues and actions do you believe are crucial to include international professionals in Sweden?

When I entered the Swedish labour market a few years ago, diversity was an exception. Today you see great improvements and more engagement in diversity and inclusion, for example in the recruitment processes. I believe we are gradually moving from asking "why" to "what" and "how", which is how we can truly learn to embrace diversity in the workplace. But still, there is room for improvement, especially in the era of digitalization and globalization. We need to speed up! In the best-case scenario, we limit ourselves to selecting and hiring diverse candidates. But we forget that the true process starts after the contract is signed.

Embracing diversity is like baking a cake: you need to mix different ingredients. However, you also need to bake the cake in the oven at the right temperature to let the ingredients merge just right. This is when you also get inclusion. You've only succeeded when all your employees feel like they belong in their team and the organisation, and when they feel encouraged to come to work as they are.

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