Today, in the 21st century, there are still many biases around women in business that have become a blocker to professional development. The stats don't lie: for every 100 men, around 85 women are promoted to management roles (Gallup). In 2021, the number of female CEOs making it to the list of Fortune 500 organizations was less than 9%, statistically still being an all-time high (Fortune.com).
The good news is there are many ways how women in the workplace can be supported. One of the initiatives that can help both a woman and the organization is the mentoring program. Read on to learn why mentoring for women is essential, what are the benefits of female mentorship and how to get started.
Why is mentorship for women important
Today there are many possibilities for a woman to develop herself professionally, and one of the effective tools out there is mentoring for women. Mentorship allows women to become more confident in the workplace, understand where they are going, and motivate others. Mentoring for women has many benefits, from the basic feeling of being safe and comfortable to getting out of the comfort zone and encouraging others to grow and do the same.
Nicole Adelman, Femme Palette Mentor, and Leadership & Performance Coach, comments, "I believe that mentorship is important for everyone. However, for women, as we’re still fighting for our equality in all spheres of life, both personally and professionally, it is important to be seen, valued and heard by fellow women, to be respected as a growing and learning entity, to be listened to as such, and to raise one another up, highlighting our strengths, and providing one another an opportunity to learn from each other and often. Even in 2022, there is still a way to go for this kind of psychological safety between one another. Mentoring women means creating and offering the specific space and time to be seen as equals, with personal value and power, and means becoming active role models for one another. This is done with intention, attention and focus. Mentoring then becomes a way of life and of being in the world.”
Danial Hasan, who is also Femme Palette Mentor and Performance Development Coach at AT&T, adds that mentoring will equip women with the necessary tools to compete in the corporate and business world. He adds, "Especially for senior or managerial roles where the majority are men. With the help of a mentor, women could build upon their existing skill sets, level up their confidence, and set themselves apart. Additionally, it will set the foundation right for future generations and act as role models for all future women leaders."
Danial believes that "women need mentoring to close the power gap between genders, thus the quest for guidance in the right direction and exposure to equal opportunities. By empowering women through mentoring, we are setting the stage for a better world following the quote by Alphonse De Lamartine "There is a woman at the beginning of all great things."
What are the benefits of mentoring women
Mentoring for women is much more than just a development program. A female mentee gets to explore the career path, find the right direction, and enhance desired skills to get there. She will get all support needed and be ready to move on, forgetting her fears or imposter syndrome. Female mentorship is also valuable for women mentors. A female mentor gets to support her fellow woman colleague, encourage, and build a better future together.
Nicole says that for women who enter a clear and defined mentoring relationship, the benefits are immeasurable, especially when the pairing puts a mentee with someone with a different and varied skill set than their own, or what they currently have. She adds, " Learning new ways of seeing, new and different ways of behaving, and new ways to address challenges, are some of the greatest take-aways a mentee can obtain. Being able to adjust one’s frame of reference with a willingness to evolve, adapt and expand, for both parties, is key to this next-level, diversified learning. This is how personal and professional relationships are strengthened, and women are primed to benefit from this, and put it into practice. Mentoring can therefore help a woman honor and adhere to her values, and move in the world in a more authentic and sustainable manner."
Danial adds that there are so many benefits of mentoring women. He says, "A woman who is a mentee can achieve the set goals by enhancing the desired skills and accessing more opportunities. Mentoring for women allows them to gain new perspectives and overcome imposter syndrome by embracing the mentoring journey."
"A woman who decides to become a mentor and lead others will also benefit from the relationship, firstly by gaining valuable experience in structuring a whole mentoring engagement from start to finish. She will build confidence in introducing a positive change in a mentee's life, expanding the professional network, and building a solid reputation of herself and a mentee together."
Support and direction
One of the most fundamental reasons to start any initiative, including mentoring for women, is to provide support. Without feeling supported, women in the workplace become anxious, unmotivated, and lost. The worst part is that it spreads quickly, with other women easily being affected as well. Mentoring for women can build that supporting pillar, ensuring everyone is taken care of and gets an opportunity to develop.
Another benefit of female mentorship is direction. Many of us can be lost while trying to climb the career ladder. Women usually have it harder, as they also need to navigate and find the difference between their wishes and given statements by the environment around them. Mentoring helps to understand own wishes in the first place and then go in the right direction, getting closer to what really matters.
Motivation and success
Mentoring for women brings one of the essential benefits out there – motivation. Without motivation, nothing can be done, while for business, it's the crucial component to success. Mentorship can boost women's motivation in the workplace exponentially. Thanks to the support and direction provided, women will see the clear path where they are heading and will be more motivated to get to the final goal.
The positive outcome of motivation is a success. Once more women are supported and confident in their decisions – personal and professional success will be just around the corner. More women will be taking jobs they are passionate about, and more women will be moving into leadership positions. Seeing these women succeed will motivate others to perform even better. Eventually, the mentoring program for women will become a well-oiled mechanism for motivation and success.
Strong community that gives back
There are many other benefits of female mentorship that can be discussed, but it all comes to one last benefit worth mentioning. The women's mentoring program creates a friendly, supportive environment and a strong, confident community of women. Everyone, especially females, strives in an environment like that. Women feel supported and motivated; they move confidently to their goals, succeeding and motivating others.
However, not only women in the organization grow thanks to the mentoring program but also the organization itself. Thanks to mentorship, it's possible to uncover biases existing in the workplace that were ignored before. The company gets a chance to create a fair environment treating all employees fairly, without assumptions based on gender.
The mentoring program encourages women to actively develop and get to higher positions, leading to better engagement and performance. Women also feel more comfortable creating and innovating, providing the organization with out-of-the-box solutions for some blocked or outdated projects. All these changes positively drive the organization’s revenue.
What should a women’s mentoring program include
If your company or organization is about to introduce mentoring for women, first, you should ask how to mentor women and what a women's mentorship program is. Although it might seem that the mentoring program is the same for everyone, female mentorship has its specifics that should be included while building the initial mentoring program for women.
Firstly, the company must ensure a safe space for a mentee to open up and a mentor to lead the way. The relationship should be based on trust, which means the first introduction meeting is inevitable. The best is to meet in the most possible relaxed environment so that a mentee and a mentor have a chance to sync and understand each other before getting into any other structured program after that.
Nicole adds, "An active and often feedback exchange, between the mentor, a female mentee and the organization bringing the parties together, is imperative. The goals that the mentee wants to meet should be clear and well-defined, and a plan of action by the mentor should be put into place that will meet that objective. Perhaps some of the objectives will be women-specific. It’s important to know what obstacles the woman may be facing based specifically on gender, and put into the plan ways to dismantle the patriarchy.”
“Due to the respectful relationship that has been crafted, checking in with one another, frequently, on how the relationship is developing and the objectives and goals are being met, is key. The organizational body that is helping to oversee the mentoring program can also check-in to confirm that these feedback exchanges are happening regularly, and the information can then be shared with them, to make sure the pairing is going well and the mentoring relationship is a win-win for all involved.”
Danial also supports the idea that structure is another key element that shouldn't be missed. He says, "Women's mentoring program should include a predefined agenda to tackle the challenges women in the company/organization face. In other words, the agenda needs to outline a structure and a system to measure the outcome of the mentoring toward the goals specified by the targeted group."
To summarise, every women's mentorship program should be safe for both mentee and mentor. It should include a defined structure and goals and constant constructive feedback. Once all pieces of a puzzle are combined together, it's guaranteed the women's mentorship program will bring only the best results possible.
Do you want to kick off a mentoring program for women in your company? Reach out to our Femme Palette team so that we help you kick off the program and get the right mentors.