Diversity in organizations isn’t simply a quota to fill for compliance’s sake. Diverse teams that have women in leadership roles have better long-term performance compared to those that aren’t — even if women only hold about 25% of leadership roles as of 2020. Part of an ongoing attempt to put more women in leadership includes offering flexible and remote work options, better parental leave protocols, and more access to mentorship programs.
Mentorship is beneficial for women workers across different fields and industries. A feature on mentoring for engagement and retention by LHH points out that there is currently a massive growth in mentoring at smaller and medium-sized companies, with expectations that the mentorship software platform industry will reach $1 billion in market size globally by 2025. However, a survey also found that while two-thirds of American workers desired mentor-mentee relationships, only one-third were able to access a mentor. For women, mentorship can equip them with the necessary skills and mindset to realize their full potential. Today, we’ll cover some of the ways mentorships can boost women’s careers:
We know that men and women experience their career paths differently. A mentor-mentee relationship can help women navigate aspects of their work that may be hindering them. In a feature on burnout from thought leader Kelley Bonner, she highlights that women disproportionately experience burnout as they struggle to align their personal and professional lives. Most importantly, she emphasizes that burnout doesn’t have to be inevitable.
Practicing work-life balance and setting boundaries are important ways to overcome burnout, which a mentor can help you with. Mentors can help hold you accountable for your career goals, making sure you are pushing yourself — without overexerting or stretching yourself thin — and providing valuable insights so that you can accomplish tasks with downtime to spare. Mentors can help you find balance in your career growth so that your work life doesn’t get too overwhelming.
There’s no one way to have a mentor, and there’s no rule saying you can only have one mentor in your career. In fact, some people go through different mentors depending on where they are in their work lives, while others have different mentors for various purposes. If anything, a lack of mentor figures can increase your likelihood of making career missteps, making you feel isolated, which many women may struggle with in a male-dominated environment.
The key takeaway, according to a Forbes article on mentorship, is that your mentor can potentially lead you to other mentors or valuable connections — a mentorship network if you will — and if you’re committed to the pursuit of continual learning, this network of insiders can provide motivation, act as your sounding board, and share vital insights with you as you progress.
Lastly, women in the workplace often struggle with their self-confidence, as they are put on unrealistic pedestals or approached in meeting rooms with inherent biases already in mind. In the book The Language of Female Leadership, it’s said that women are four times more likely to use “out-of-power” language, often associated with being passive and imprecise — a form of unconscious self-sabotage.
A good mentor will teach you to use more positive and confident language, allowing you to better present your expertise and authority in the workplace without second-guessing yourself or selling yourself short. Ultimately, mentorships help bring out your best traits and optimize them so you can better navigate your career, and maybe someday, you can pay it forward by mentoring other women like you.