PowerHouse MENtor: Gordon Jackson

August 28, 2017

PowerHouse Montana may be all about economic opportunity for women, but we are fortunate to have a few enlightened men among us who are willing to be advocates in the workplace. Men bring different skill sets and perspectives to mentoring relationships, and are essential to helping women get ahead. We interviewed some of our PowerHouse MENtors, who have made a pledge to support women in the workplace, and we hope that you'll reach out to them and thank them for their support. PowerHouse MENtor: Gordon Jackson, Project Director, Northern Plains Transportation Resource Center (NADC) Why did you join PowerHouse? I am the project director for a US Department of Transportation cooperative agreement that has a Women and Girls in Transportation Initiative (WITI). I have been searching for a partner to fulfill those WITI requirements that serve to advance women who want a career in the transportation industry. I am a 37-year federal program manager (retired) that helped build diversity and inclusion of women and minorities in the work place sector at many different levels and I am still interested in those pursuits. What can men do to champion women leaders in the workplace? Men can become aware of the potentials women possess to add diversity and innovative thought to the workforce. The contributions that women can make have been overlooked by primarily male dominated organizations and companies. Men must do truthful self-examinations of their own interactions with minorities and women to see if they are an obstacle or pathfinder to the advancement of women. Have you ever had a female mentor? Have you ever mentored a woman, either formally or informally? My Mother was my first mentor who taught me how to treat people right and take care of myself. She instilled in me the value of getting an education and completing what I started. I give her credit for helping me develop a good work ethic and have always been employed since I was thirteen years old by doing a newspaper route to my lengthy federal career where I held progressive leadership positions. During my long tenure as a federal manager I was responsible for advancing women in the workplace and managed federal diversity programs and Equal Opportunity Employment programs. I was an EEO counselor for several years. I served as a mentor to several women employees during my career and helped develop them professionally. Why do you think diversity and inclusion in the workplace is important? Innovation is driven by different thoughts and perspectives. These are enhanced by involving both women and minorities in the managerial mix and has been proven by successful private and governmental organizations that have done so. How do you think gender inclusiveness can effectively recruit and retain talented workers? We lead by example – by having women in positions of responsibility proves to the new recruits that there is opportunity in the organization for advancement by women within that organization. What efforts do you make to create diverse, inclusive organizations? I am an active listener and seek different viewpoints to accomplish an organization’s goals. My management style is more collegiate and I work best by creating teams with people who hold different skill sets and talents to address challenges. What need do you have right now that a PowerHouse could help fulfill? Right now, as project director I am looking for a partner who can help me fulfill the requirements of the WITI program I mentioned above. I can host events specifically targeted to women and girls to help them in the advancement of their careers. I am also willing to be a formal or informal mentor to women who might benefit from my experience and network.