An effective way to help female talent is through mentorship. Here’s how you can effectively utilise this tactic.

There are many ways to advance through a company, and while some are able to manage it on hard work and talent alone, the majority of workers will benefit from some form of nurturing. This is especially true for female employees, who also have to break through the barriers of implicit bias and everyday sexism.

However, despite this, only around 60 percent of women have managers who support their career progression or provide them with the work experience they need to progress.[1] In order to help develop female employees so they can attain leadership positions, organisations need to invest in mentoring programmes. Here’s how this tactic can help nurture the women in your organisation.

Retain female staff

Put simply, if your organisation isn’t retaining female employees it will struggle to elevate them to senior leadership. If staff don’t feel valued they will be less likely to stay, and one way to show you are invested in them and their future is to commit to mentoring them. Research has shown this is an effective way to retain employees.

A CNBC study revealed that 91 percent of workers who have a mentor are satisfied with their jobs [2], while being significantly less likely to have looked for another job in the last three months. This has been found to be even more effective for women, who value mentoring programmes more than men [3], making this a great way to ensure your talented employees stay with the company long enough for them to progress.

Mentoring is a clear path to progression

While it is by no means guaranteed, mentoring is an effective way to provide employees with the skills and abilities they need to progress in your organisation. For example, one study looking specifically at mentoring women found that 87 percent of both mentees and their mentors felt empowered and developed greater confidence as a result [4], while 82 percent developed meaningful connections across departments and the organisation overall.

These are all excellent qualities for developing towards senior roles. In fact, mentoring has been proven to help members of marginalised groups reach leadership positions, with one study finding it could increase minority representation at managerial levels by between nine and 24 percent [5]. However, it is less successful at increasing representation for white female employees, indicating that it might not be enough on its own.

Mentoring provides women with the feedback they need

Reaching senior positions requires hard work and a good level of skill, but also feedback on performance and other aspects of the job. This is something women aren’t getting, on average. Women receive less-actionable feedback than men [6], and are often told to focus on vague aspects of their role rather than being given concrete things to improve on.

A formal mentoring relationship is much better able to provide this kind of concrete feedback, especially as mentorships are typically a two-way street; the mentee is able to ask the mentor to provide them with the specific help they need, such as actionable goals to work towards.

By focusing on mentoring, you can take your talented female employees from the beginning of their journey right up to the top of your industry. You can find out more about developing female talent and making scitech more inclusive here.

 [1] Time to talk: What has to change for women at work, PwC, 2018

 [2] Nine in 10 workers who have a career mentor say they are happy in their jobs, CNBC, July 2019

  [3] Study: Women and Minorities Value Mentoring Programs, But Findings Reveal Opportunities for Improved Effectiveness, Heidrick & Struggles, December 2017

 [4] New UK research: Mentoring is improving gender balance in organisations, Moving Ahead, September 2017

  [5] What Evidence is There that Mentoring Works to Retain and Promote Employees, Especially Diverse Employees, Within a Single Company?, Cornell University ILR School, October 2016

 [6] Research: Men Get More Actionable Feedback Than Women, Harvard Business Review, February 2021

Nick Ross

Author Nick Ross

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