A study by DDI, a global HR consulting firm, finds that women are hesitant to ask for mentorship from other women, and an almost equal amount don’t raise their hands to mentor others. Most often, these women say that they lack the confidence or experience to be a proper mentor, and feel that they don’t have adequate time for the responsibility. Ladies, we ain’t got time for that. There’s momentum in the culture now to turn things around. Women represent forty-seven percent of the workforce, yet fill only 10% of top executive positions. By helping one another develop into fierce professionals, we can help stoke the pipeline of female talent.
Take the initiative
Raise your hand and become a mentor – formally or informally. If your company has an official mentorship program, find out how you can participate. If it doesn’t, ask why not, and help make it happen. And if that isn’t in the cards, you don’t need a fancy program to become a listening ear, an advice giver, and an experience sharer. Make it known that your door is open.
Look up, look down, all around
Don’t limit your idea of what mentorship looks like. Often when one hears the word ‘mentorship,’ thoughts rise to the rungs above. But peer mentorship is also very useful. And don’t underestimate the impact of reverse mentorship with someone junior to you. Encourage yourself and other women you know to mentor regardless of age and rank. Every woman has something to impart.
Make yourself available
Once you’ve embraced the idea of becoming a mentor, carve out time each week for those you’ve agreed to advise. Be realistic about the amount of time you can spend and stick to that commitment. Be upfront about the limited time you have to offer and set the proper expectation. But give of that allotted time willingly without making your mentees feel like they are a burden.
All in, together
Female bonds are powerful. And while men make great mentors – don’t get us wrong – only another woman understands the challenges females face on their career journey. Studies have shown that women who have other women as role models are more likely to be successful, set more ambitious goals, better understand their worth, and feel more confident. Think of your active participation in mentorship as spreading the seeds of female leadership on the winds of change blowing across Businessland today.