Training Magazine Middle East March 2015 - Page 14

mentoring women


There is no doubt that companies that embrace gender diversity benefit greatly in terms of organizational effectiveness. Particularly, over the past few years, there has been much talk about gender diversity, pay equity and the lack of women in executive and leadership roles. However, women continue to hit the “glass ceiling” or drop off the career ladder in droves.

Even though when entering the workforce, women overpower men in terms of the numbers (53% of new hires are women), by the time they reach managerial level, the ratio is a dismal 30%. What happens to so many women?

Why do women drop off?

What happens is a factor of many issues.

According to a recent study by Mckinsey, core challenges that professional women face are:

• The old traditional model of family and societal expectations resulting in the “double burden syndrome”: Women have to manage both work and home on a single set of shoulders. This often becomes overpowering and they give in

• Biases from both men and women regarding women in leadership, or women as bosses: women not supporting women, and men opposing women bosses

• Infrastructure gaps: where organizations fail to provide adequate support infrastructure and policies to support keeping women at the workplace

• Lack of targeted leadership programs and limited networking opportunities: leadership development programs that are focused on the male model of leadership, ignoring the unique needs and perspectives of women

There are many deeply entrenched beliefs (in the minds of organizations and male counterparts), but more pertinently the self-limiting beliefs in the minds of young women.

Sheryl Sandburg so famously said that successful women don’t see their career progression as a ladder that needs to be climbed up, but rather as a jungle gym that she navigates through. This assumes women getting off the ladder and up onto another part of the gym. This doesn’t happen often, and definitely not with support and guidance.

There is ample evidence to suggest that navigating one’s career with the support and guidance of a mentor(s) can make all the difference. In my experience, I felt more confident and courageous to ask for larger assignments and choose transformational career shifts because I was supported and advised by the mentors in my life.

People who have mentors usually have a clearly defined role of themselves, and clear goals, in addition to a network of contacts to help them reach those goals.

While most men are clear about who they aspire to, and who they invite as a mentor into their lives, this question often stumps smart intelligent women. They either haven’t thought about it, or don’t know where to start looking for a mentor.

In a survey conducted by LinkedIn in 2011, 52 % of female respondents claimed that they have never had a mentor because they haven’t met someone appropriate.

The problem is that too many women start to look for mentors at their current workplace. Too many organizations have too few female executives and the ones who are there are bombarded with requests to be a mentor.

Coaching and Mentoring


to succeed