May 10, 2023

The ROI of women's mentoring: How investing in women's professional growth can benefit your business

Today, mentoring is one of the essential tools for anyone wishing to grow and develop in their role. Mentoring relationships benefit all kinds of employees, be they junior or senior, male or female. However, it's still required to pay special attention to underrepresented groups, including females, and invest in mentoring programs for women. Why? There are several reasons worth mentioning. 

Firstly, there is a clear Return on Investment (ROI) coming from the mentoring program when: 

  • All 100% of the TOP 50 US Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs in place, proving their effectiveness ( 

  • Research by Deloitte showed that 87 percent of employees with mentors or that mentor others felt empowered and more confident in their job. 

  • As for women specifically, Cornell University found that retention and promotion rates for women participating in mentoring programs increased from 15 percent to 38 percent.


However, not all stats are great. It was reported that only 37 percent of women have had a mentor in their careers (

Mentoring in a workplace empowers, and investing in mentoring programs for women pays off. Women get to understand their role and find ways how to develop further; they approach challenges quickly and are not afraid to take a risk; they grow and motivate others to do the same. In the end, it all leads to ROI and better business profitability.

How can mentorship improve employee engagement and retention?

The mentoring program usually consists of several steps that both mentor and mentee need to take. Firstly, it's required to show interest and apply as a mentor, proposing your candidacy and skills you can teach. Or, apply as a mentee, show your interest in the development program, and describe how you would benefit from this relationship. Even this first step already boosts the employees' engagement. Applicants become involved and look forward to mentor-mentee matching. 

The second and most major step is the mentoring program itself, usually running for several months with bi-weekly or monthly meetings between mentor and mentee. During this time both participants get to know each other, share their challenges and best practices, and learn from each other. Engagement increases as both participants work on their goals – a mentee grows within a role, and a mentor helps to get there.

The third step is a finish line of a mentoring journey. By this time, a mentor shares all best practices with a mentee and learns how to motivate and encourage, while a mentee gets to learn all tips and tricks of the job and how to overcome challenges. The mentoring relationship usually stays alive when a mentor checks on progress even after the program is finished. Mentoring engages and promotes positive retention as employees involved in the program value the time and budget allocated to it by the business. 

How can mentoring improve women’s leadership skills?

Mentoring has many benefits for women's career growth, one of the main ones being women's leadership skills. A leader doesn't mean a manager. A woman who is involved in the mentoring program as a mentee can be an individual contributor and still gain leadership skills. She can learn how to listen, how to give feedback, and how to apply the most helpful knowledge in practice. And all of that while being confident in herself and leading by example. 

A mentee with mentoring experience can then easily coach others and teach skills she learned herself. She can encourage others to take risks, move on with a challenge, or try something new. Mentoring always opens eyes and allows seeing things out-of-the-box that can be motivational for a mentee and encourage sharing knowledge further, strengthening leadership skills. 

The same goes for women who decide to become mentors. As the role is usually voluntary, a mentor gets to find time for a mentee, listen carefully, understand the challenges the mentee faces, and give honest feedback and encouragement. While some mentoring programs require previous mentoring experience, most programs nowadays inspire women without any previous mentoring hours to become a mentor and learn how to lead. This way, the mentoring relationship becomes the greatest learning experience for both a mentor and a mentee. 

How can mentoring drive innovation?

The mentoring relationship is usually created between more and less senior professionals that shouldn't work in the same department, company, or field. The more diverse the relationship is, the more innovation it will bring. Firstly, innovation is based on different thinking and out-of-the-box ideas. When a mentor comes from a different environment, they will more likely give innovative ideas to a mentee by breaking siloed thinking. 

Secondly, the mentoring relationship provides a safe space for discussion, which then better encourages risk-taking. When a mentor and a mentee discuss the idea, provide feedback, and adjust accordingly, it's more likely a mentee will take a risk to implement the idea as the concept was cross-checked and approved by a more experienced mentor. 

Thirdly, it all comes to self-confidence. The mentoring relationship helps a mentee understand where she stands and what it takes to move forward. A mentee becomes self-aware and, as a result, self-confident. And confidence acts as a primary factor in innovation, a mentee is not afraid to take a risk anymore and can prove the concept to whoever asks for it. 

How can mentoring drive business success?

All points above nurture the talent development of female employees, which subsequently drives business success. An employee who gets to be a part of the mentoring program is more engaged as it requires thinking of the current role and scope and setting goals to move further. Regular meetings with a mentor keep a mentee involved in the process, working towards end goals, sharing challenges, listening to best practices, and applying learnings in practice.

Engagement from the mentorship involvement grows into positive retention. Both mentor and mentee are motivated to do their job better and apply learned concepts immediately at the workplace. The loop doesn't close but only gets wider as a mentor and a mentee usually share their positive experience with others, encouraging others to become a part of the mentoring journey and work on their professional development. 

There are many skills that both a mentor and a mentee learn during the relationship, including prioritization, feedback, time management, self-confidence, and leadership skills – all crucial in the business environment. The company gains more advanced workers without needing to source new ones and allocate extra budgets to additional headcounts. 

Coming from different environments, a mentee and a mentor constantly share new ideas, teaching each other new approaches. Support of a mentor and valuable feedback provides a mentee with motivation and confidence, encouraging them to take risks and innovate. 

After joining a mentoring program, a mentee understands how to improve their role and develop in the best way possible and how to adjust and improve processes in the company. Thanks to the strengthened self-confidence, a mentee is open to sharing ideas with the teams involved and suggesting improvements. Both improved processes and new ideas transformed into innovations drive the overall business success — all that while having engaged employees and positive retention. 

How to measure the ROI of mentoring for women in the workplace?

There are two ways to calculate the ROI of mentoring – based on performance or improved retention.

How can you measure mentoring ROI based on performance?

In the case of performance, the company can compare figures of salary changes (raises, promotions), productivity increases, or hitting company KPIs. The ROI calculation starts with "dollar productivity," where the company can define how much revenue is allocated to one dollar of an employee's salary. It is needed to divide the total annual company revenue by the yearly amount allocated for salaries. The final number is revenue per dollar of salary. 

Another number that can be included in the ROI calculation is the increase in yearly salaries of those who participate in mentoring versus those who don't. The difference between both is an incremental change to use in the final ROI calculation. 

The final ROI calculation will then include the projected salary after participating in mentoring (the number of employees x initial average salary x incremental change) multiplied by dollar productivity. The result is the total expected increase in revenue that can be presented to upper management. 

How can you measure mentoring ROI based on retention?

Another ROI calculation is based on retention and present costs that the company can save thanks to mentoring. Firstly, it is necessary to estimate turnover cost per employee (recruitment costs, training, salary, and cost of replacement), find the % of annual turnover (number of people who resigned divided by the total number of employees), and the cost of losing an employee (cost of turnover multiplied by average salary). Once the expected turnover % is multiplied by the number of expected new joiners, the result is the number of people expected to leave. The total cost of resigned employees is calculated by multiplying the number of people expected to leave by the cost of losing an employee. This final number can then be compared with the amount allocated for mentoring, usually times less than the cost of losing and finding new employees. 

How does investing in mentoring benefit your business?

There is a clear impact of gender diversity on profitability, especially when educational and development programs are involved. When the business takes care of underrepresented groups of the company, including women, both involved representatives and employees out of the group appreciate the attention to detail. Employees feel the company's support that transforms the working environment into a safe and creative space. 

Investment in mentoring pays off as it brings engagement, positive retention, and innovation. Instead of leaving the company searching for something new, employees who were part of the mentoring program are motivated to work on their goals, develop professionally, solve challenges, and bring new ideas to the table. 

The work environment fills with employees who understand their role, who are motivated to grow in their careers, and are confident to present their innovative ideas to others. They become excellent examples for others, sharing their motivation and showing that it's possible to start thinking fresh and further develop professionally. More employees join the mentoring program, grow, and bring success to the business. 

Would you like to invest in the professional development of women in your workplace? Don't hesitate to schedule a call and implement a mentoring program easily with Femme Palette

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