The Cornerstones of Effective Women Mentorship
Over the years, women have broken workplace barriers by becoming business leaders and successful entrepreneurs in formerly male-dominated industries. In fact, CNBC reveals that the 2019 Fortune 500 list recorded the highest number of female CEOs to be featured in history. Despite the significant strides, there’s still more work to be done for women in the workplace.
Women leaders can make their presence even more impactful by taking on the role of mentors. Mentorship is integral for any company, as mentors help employees boost their career prospects. So, how can women shape tomorrow’s leaders now that they’re presented with this opportunity? Below, we dive into the cornerstones of effective female mentorship.
In the past, people have been taught that working in business is a dog-eat-dog world. Fortunately, many female-led companies are shifting towards a culture that focuses on empowering their employees. The popular dating app Bumble is a good example. As we shared in our LEADERSHIP: A Closer Look at the Brands Paving the Way for Female Empowerment, much of the company's success can be credited to their executive team of 80% women. With this diversity, every woman has someone to look up to.
Of course, being a female mentor doesn’t mean your guidance is exclusive to women, since you can also empower men. Take your mentorship role as an opportunity to cultivate a workplace that values gender equality by helping them understand the unique struggles that women go through. This way, you'll encourage your employees to promote each other's success without bias. All in all, female mentorship means wanting everyone to succeed.
Communication is the foundation of any successful professional relationship, mentoring included. So, open communication relies heavily on you when you’re mentoring someone, as you’ll need to show up and respect what your mentee shares with you. More often than not, mentees are intimidated by their mentors due to their senior positions. As a woman, you can turn this around because you know how crucial it is to feel respected at work.
It doesn't have to be elaborate gestures, as you can start with quick check-ins to see how they’re feeling with their situation at work. Remember that mentors aren't just there to boss you around—you should be taking the time to actually get to know and understand your mentees, so you can guide them with their career path accordingly.
Having to settle into a new company can be daunting, but it's much easier to adjust if you know you're part of a supportive network. True enough, this sense of community and hospitality is key to workplace productivity. Coworking giant Industrious states it is important to foster workspaces that encourage professionals to exchange ideas and bring out the best in themselves—but again, that can be a tricky feat if you're new.
As a mentor, it's up to you to roll out the welcome carpet. Your responsibility isn't just to show them the ropes when it comes to technical tasks; it’s about making them feel included in the community and enlightening them about company culture. For women, this is even more crucial if you're in a male-dominated field, which can be very intimidating. At the end of the day, providing women a mentor to lean on can be the difference between a rookie failing to settle in, and an employee going on to become the next best team player in your company.
It goes without saying that women tend to have a tougher time in the workplace. A recent report conducted by McKinsey found that men are more likely to get promoted than women despite fair representation. This is why female mentorship should be centered on teaching grit and determination, as you have a deep understanding of what it means to persevere in the face of adversity.
From teaching them how to be patient with a promotion to informing them what to do when no one’s listening, women mentors can pass on valuable knowledge that may not be taught during orientation. Your guidance can be a game-changer for your mentees, as it provides them with a new perspective on overcoming challenges at work. On that note, try to share with them your own stories of struggles, or ask them if they’re encountering any troubles at the moment. In turn, this trust will be the glue to hold your work relationship together.