Mentorship

How to start a women's mentorship program

To build more equitable workplaces we need to support women. An effective way to do this is through a women's mentorship program.

Matthew Reeves

November 25, 2018

Diversity in the workplace is not just a nice-to-have. It can be a deal-breaker when it comes to revenue. Research by McKinsey found that companies with gender diversity are 48 percent more likely to outperform their competitors. Yet, according to McKinsey, less than 40 percent of female employees hold leadership roles. 

A women’s mentoring program can encourage women to develop leadership skills so they can take on more advanced roles in your organization. 

What is a female mentorship program?

Women face different hurdles than men in the workplace. Women's mentorship can help female employees overcome obstacles and gain the confidence to succeed. Having a mentor can help women stick to their goals, making career development easier. Mentors can help employees define their goals and track their progress towards achievement. 

While some people can find mentors in the workplace, not everyone is so lucky. Having a formal mentoring program for women can help all your female employees connect with the opportunity to learn and grow. 


Why is it important to have a mentoring program specifically for women?

One study by McKinsey reports that women are promoted at a slower rate than men in all industries. The study found that for every 100 men promoted, just 86 percent of women advance in most jobs. However, it’s just 52 women for every 100 men in the tech industry. With a women’s mentoring program, female employees can be better equipped with leadership skills. There are several reasons why your organization should consider a formal women’s mentoring program, such as: 

Women face significantly more barriers to advancement in the workplace

The research by McKinsey shows that there are fewer women at the top of most organizations. Researchers note this trend begins early, with fewer women being offered manager positions. This leads to fewer women available for promotion to higher roles within an organization. 

It’s challenging for women to find mentors

A lack of women in leadership roles also means younger women struggle to find mentors to help them develop along their career path. Female employees in a post-COVID world also struggle to connect with mentors as many employees are working from home and are less approachable. 

The pandemic has disproportionately affected women 

More than just cult the office workforce, the global pandemic has hit women differently than it’s impacted men. While male employees have returned to work at close to pre-pandemic levels, women still struggle with finding adequate childcare so they too can return to full-time work. 

According to the Brookings Institute, there are a variety of reasons why the pandemic has hurt women more than men, such as:

  • Most jobs working women held down were cut because of COVID
  • More women are reliant on schools and daycares to help look after their children


Examples of successful female mentoring programs

So how do other companies implement successful women mentoring programs? Here are a few case studies. 

King games

To help women get a step up in the video gaming industry, King games offered women a mentoring opportunity through Women@King, an ERG. Partnering with Together, King matched over 200 female employees with mentors. 

Avison Young

To help promote the careers of women and other minorities in real estate, Avison Young started a company-wide mentorship program. They were able to diversify their leadership and have women representing over 40 percent of their leadership team and 25 percent of their board. 

The Forum

A Canadian non-profit designed to help advance women in the workforce, The Forum was able to take their mentoring program and scale it with Together’s platform. They were able to grow it to over four times its size and plan to increase that further in 2022.

USP

Advancing women in medicine for decades, USP boosts 51 percent of their employees are female, including 30 percent of their executive team. 


How to start a women’s mentorship program

Starting a women’s mentorship program at your organization will benefit your female employees and your company as a whole. From a more inclusive atmosphere to higher revenues, there is a lot to be gained with a women’s mentoring program. Here are the steps to get you there. 

Decide on the goals of the program

The first step is to consider what you want to achieve with your women’s mentoring program. Are you looking to increase representation in leadership positions? You can begin by building a community for your female employees, such as a women’s ERG

It’s also essential to give women more equitable access to skill-building opportunities. For example, if many of your female employees are also caregivers for their families, offer them flexible training options such as online courses. 

This can reduce the pressure for women in your company who can’t find childcare to attend in-person workshops or training sessions. 

Decide how you will pair women in the mentorship program

Pairing mentors and mentees is a key ingredient for a successful mentoring program. And there are different ways you can go about it, from one-on-one mentoring to peer or group mentoring to reverse mentoring. How your program will match participants is something that program admins need to consider carefully. Together’s pairing algorithm makes matching women based on similar goals and experiences easy. This makes it easy for admins to ensure relevant matches without spending hours matching using spreadsheets.

Provide resources to help mentors and mentees build a relationship

Building a strong mentoring relationship takes time and some effort. You can help cultivate connections between mentors and mentees by offering them resources they can use along the way. For example, Together provides customers with templates of session agendas that can be customized for participants. We also offer handbooks for training mentors and mentors about their roles and expectations.

Report on the program to demonstrate success

Workplace mentoring programs need to have the support of higher-ups. The best way to get leadership to support a women’s mentoring program is by showing them how successful it is. Calculate the ROI of mentorship to get leadership buy-in for the program to expand. Together offers tips on how to measure success for a mentoring program so you can be fully prepared to track and report on your company’s mentoring program. 


Want an easy way to launch your mentorship program?

Launching a women’s mentoring program has never been easier. With Together’s platform, you can be up and running in a short time. 

Try a free version of our software. If you want to expand it, you can book a demo and learn more about what mentorship software offers and additional features to help you scale a successful mentoring program for women in your workplace. 

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We draw these best practices from the first-hand experience of program managers like you and our own expertise. This white paper is a comprehensive guide that will be your roadmap to building a world-class mentoring program.