Cheryl Lynn Baxter

Cheryl Lynn Baxter
Head of Corporate Advocacy Programs

Company Name: S&P Global
Industry: Ratings, commodities, data analytics, technology
Company CEO: Douglas L. Peterson
Company Headquarters Location: New York, New York
Number of Employees: 23,000 globally
Words you live by: Everything happens in its time.
Who is your personal hero? Maya Angelou
What book are you reading? Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America by James Forman, Jr.
What was your first job? McDonald’s in High School
Favorite charity: Include NYC
Interests: Sewing, DIY Projects, and writing

Mentoring and the Next Generation

I was raised in South Philadelphia during a time when access to information was not as extensive as it today and my world was mostly limited to my immediate surroundings. After extremely humble beginnings, I have had many educational and career opportunities for which I am grateful. Navigating society and corporate environments has not always been an intuitive process, and with odds stacked against me, support from others has been crucial in my development.

The importance of having mentors became very apparent to me while pursuing my undergraduate studies. In unfamiliar territory, I quickly found a community at Howard University where members of the staff and faculty went above and beyond, serving double duty by encouraging me to always seek excellence and maintain accountability for my actions. My mentors at Howard provided targeted guidance and encouragement, which boosted my confidence level, creating a foundation that empowered me to work hard and aim for more, while remaining authentic.

I have often been the only or one of few Black employees in the room in the corporate environment. Conscious and unconscious bias has, at times, limited my ability to access a “community” accessible to others. This often resulted in my missing out on insider knowledge, potential opportunities, and fair consideration. However, informal and formal mentors have been extremely instrumental in my journey, particularly when I was trying to navigate and conquer unfamiliar and sometimes unwelcoming environments. Many have also supported me through career changes and tough decisions.

Over the years, mentors have assisted with core-skills building, career counseling, networking, and spiritual guidance. In my experience, mentors have come in all forms and many times did not look like me. They have filled important roles as teachers, bridge builders, cheerleaders, spot checkers, and even friends. Unfortunately, having the opportunity to reach out to a trusted advisor is often something not available to people of color due to limited networks. The lack of networks, coupled with systemic social and economic issues that have plagued the Black community results in limited employment and development opportunities.

As a current participant in the CEO Action for Racial Equity Fellowship, and in my role as a Corporate Advocate, I am aiming to help find solutions that will help rectify longstanding employment, development, and pay disparities impacting the Black community. Personally, I believe mentoring is one of many ways to directly impact these disparities, and I believe there’s a role everyone can play in supporting the next generation of leaders.