Women in Mentoring
“I think the key is for women not to set any limits” – Martina Navratilova
Does your company have a mentoring mentality?
Mentoring is one of the best investments you can make in employees. Studies show that women especially benefit from being mentored by other successful women. Taking the time to pair women with mentors demonstrates that your organisation invests in helping women grow and develop not just in their current roles, but toward their career goals.
Benefits of Mentoring
Numerous studies have shown the benefits of mentoring. Being paired with a mentor demonstrates organisational investment in each individual employee. Mentors also serve as models for what is possible within the organization, and within an industry or field. Mentors serve as valuable support persons and sounding boards, and can often provide their mentees with training and development experiences and one-on-one chances to grow. Mentors also benefit from the mentoring process, as they are able to share their knowledge and expertise and feel invested in the future of the organisation. Other benefits of mentoring programmes include:
- Increased employee investment in the organisation
- Employee investment in their own growth and development
- Improved succession planning
- Fostering a culture of continual learning
When many people think of mentoring, they think of pairing an employee with someone who occupies the position he or she might aspire to. However, given that women are often underrepresented in management and leadership, it may not be possible to pair every female employee with a female mentor in her division or specialist area. Think creatively when pairing women with mentors. You might pair a female employee with a female mentor who is in another division but who has expertise that can benefit the employee. It is also appropriate to pair a female employee with a male mentor, if it is a good fit in terms of personality, expertise, and goals. While it is desirable to pair women with female mentors, the ultimate goal should be to foster a strong mentorship relationship, which can absolutely happen across gender lines. Also be willing to encourage female employees to find women mentors from outside the organisation, drawing on their networks. Vital Spark Training Consultants Ltd offers this service:- email or call us for more information.
Incorporate Mentoring at Every Stage
Mentoring should be incorporated at every stage of an employee’s career. Do not wait to pair a woman with a mentor until she expresses leadership or management goals. Instead, pair women employees with mentors almost as soon as they begin work at your organisation. They may have different mentors at different stages, or may work with the same mentor long-term. Incorporating mentoring at every stage of an employee’s career allows for the greatest potential for benefit from the mentorship experience. Incorporating mentoring at every stage of the career demonstrates long-term investment in employees and may help to promote retention as well.
Encourage Women to Mentor
Mentees are only one half of the mentorship equation. It is also important to have mentors who are willing to take mentees! Encourage women in your organization to mentor. This not only extends the benefits of mentorship to those being mentored, but allows women to share their expertise and experience with other women. While it is appropriate for women to mentor men as well, by encouraging women to mentor other women you demonstrate an investment in developing women and also in sharing the expertise of women leaders already in your organization. Being a mentor can be a valuable development experience, so in the process women may develop their own leadership skills and be able to advance their own careers as well as their mentees’.
The longer Linda worked with her mentor, Susan, the more she learned. She was especially interested in Susan’s perspective because, while they both came from technical backgrounds, Susan’s specialist area was a little different from her own. Linda asked Susan how they came to be paired: “TechCorp takes mentoring very seriously,” Susan said, “and we know that women are still quite outnumbered in this industry. So we try to pair women with women mentors when we can”. Susan explained that right now there were no female managers in Linda’s specialist area, so they had been paired together. “I hope that when you become a manager, you’ll mentor another young woman,” Susan said with a smile.