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The Value of Mentoring Women in the Workplace
Mentorship matters. There is no shortage of research that shows the power of mentorship for both mentees and mentors, with a good relationship allowing both to grow skills, make better decisions, build networks and gain new perspectives. With mentorship providing trajectory-changing benefits, unfortunately, research shows 63% of women have never had a formal mentor. In the same study, 67% of women rated mentorship as highly important in helping grow their careers. As disappointing as it is shocking, women are missing out on significant opportunities for growth and development.
As an organization committed to supporting our employees’ personal and professional development, and with more than 80% of our staff being female, evolvedMD understands the power of mentoring and its impact on our staff. In recognition of Women’s History Month, and following our team’s reactions to the eye-opening Women in the Workplace Report 2021 from McKinsey & Company, evolvedMD would like to highlight the importance of women having mentors with heartfelt anecdotes and words of advice from our majority-female leadership team.
evolvedMD’s Female Leaders’ Mentorship Experiences
Sarah Hanchett, Director of Clinical Services: “Mentorship has been a huge piece of my growth as a leader. During a pivotal point in my career, I remember feeling a lack of confidence and it showed in the work I was doing. The organization I was with brought in a strong female leader as interim CEO who showed me an alternate way to view myself and my skill set. She brought in other brilliant women who mentored our leadership team to help us take a serious and honest look at ourselves, how we interacted in the workplace and areas for growth.”
Dr. Ruth Nutting, Director of Clinical Programs: “Female mentors have been a significant force in my personal and professional development. They have consistently reminded me of the significance and value of my mind, my voice, and my work. Through their encouragement and support, I have pursued accomplishments I once never imagined for myself.”
Jaye Williams, Director of Operations: “My experience as a mentee/mentor has been a lifelong project, starting as a young child. At five, I joined the local Girl Guides of Canada troop as a Spark. From that day forward, I found myself surrounded with positive examples of women led leadership, and experienced mentorship as I grew into a young adult. This led to continuing to seek out women leaders as I began my professional career. I became entrenched with this sense of how important it was to be a leader and to take responsibility for helping to raise the leaders of tomorrow.”
Charlene Wong, Director of People: “My early memories of being mentored informally began at age seven as a Girl Scout Brownie by my two female Leaders. They shared their life experiences, taught me survival skills, and helped me overcome my mental barriers which continued throughout my teenage and adult life.
Fast forward to age 17-21 where I worked for a Chinese restaurant as a Head Hostess. The owner was a strong Asian woman. Through her tough demeanor, she taught me how to hire, train, and motivate personnel and run a successful business. Because of this hands-on experience in hospitality, I knew I wanted to work with people and that is why I chose a degree in Human Resources.
Male and Female Influence
Sarah Hanchett, Director of Clinical Services: “It is important to note that mentors can and should also be of the opposite sex. I have been mentored by great male leaders who have helped me take my seat at the table and find my voice.”
Doris Huang, Director of Customer Success: “I’m a strong believer that women can find wonderful mentors in men, not just in other women. Candidly, there just aren’t as many women in senior leadership positions in most industries to begin with (although we’re making strides!), and moreover, getting a male perspective can be very valuable for women who are navigating workplace challenges. Personally, four of the five individuals whom I would count as my mentors since college have been men.”
The Power of Female Leadership
Kim Ho, Director of Sales: “From my mother to peers and more experienced professionals that I admire greatly, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by strong, independent, and powerful women. They have allowed me to be my most authentic self and love and be loved more completely. They have also been the ones that laugh, cry, and lifted me up when I have needed it the most.”
Jaye Williams, Director of Operations: “The value of these mentorship experiences has been priceless in helping me to navigate decisions, build confidence and create my own path. More than that though, my experiences as a mentee have taught me how important it is to be a mentor to other women, to help raise them up, and create space for themselves. Something I have always felt, and hope that I can support other women in realizing, is this sense that when you surround yourself with strong women, you’re never alone. In anything.”
Charlene Wong, Director of People: “My first formal mentorship came from my first full-time HR position from a female Resident Vice President at an insurance company. I experienced the power of having a female leader invested in my learning and advancement very early in my career journey. She took the time to answer my questions, pushed me outside my comfort zone, and encouraged me to take on risks that I normally wouldn’t have. Looking back, I know that without those first experiences of support and inspiration, I would not be where I am today.”
Advice to Women Seeking a Mentor
Sarah Hanchett, Director of Clinical Services: “Mentors can also be found across different areas of expertise. One of my favorite mentors has no experience in mental health but her knowledge of building teams has been invaluable. I would encourage women to broaden their definition of a mentor and actually work to build a team of people that can provide support and insight. Don’t be afraid to take a hard look at who you are and how you show up. Do find mentors who will help you hold up the mirror and develop your skills.”
Doris Huang, Director of Customer Success: “First, speak up and raise your hand! Don’t expect a senior leader to invite you to become their mentee – unless you’re enrolled in an explicit mentorship program, that’s rarely how this works. It’s up to you to take the initiative to seek out mentors and to voice your desire to learn from them. Most people are flattered to be asked for their guidance; if they seem hesitant, don’t take it personally -- that’s a sign that maybe they’re not in a great position to mentor others in general right now.
Second, be mindful of the context and the environment that you’re in. Use common sense here – schedule meetings with your mentor in a safe, public place, like a coffee shop during the day or a small conference room with glass walls, so that everyone feels comfortable with the situation.
Third, keep it professional. While some mentoring relationships do eventually branch out into personal topics like family and work-life balance, when you’re just starting to build a rapport with a new mentor, keep your focus on professional topics like career advancement, skills development, and networking.”
Benefits of Mentoring Women
Define Personal and Career Goals
Goal-setting is central to the success of any mentorship experience, but without a clear plan in place, women may struggle to achieve their aspirations quickly and efficiently. A quality mentor can help their mentee clearly define their goals and navigate potential obstacles.
Mentorships aren’t just about the connection between mentor and mentee. They can also be a catalyst for building relationships with others, too. When the mentee has identified and defined personal and professional goals, her mentor can connect her to potential people who can help grow her skillset further.
Confidence gives us the energy and motivation to take action and achieve our goals. A mentee with confidence is more likely to own their career development, push themselves more, and also clearly articulate ambitions.
Pay It Forward
Value for value, mentees will likely enjoy their experience so much that they’ll wish to share their knowledge with someone else – especially someone younger than them. Through multigenerational relationships, mentors and mentees can create a bridge between experiences, skills, and knowledge.
Resources for Finding Mentors
- Meetup – find groups, make friends, and explore your interests at thousands of events happening every day
- Mentoring Her – virtual community for mentoring for free
- Raise Women – community for matching women of color with female leaders through mentorship
- Lean In Circles - small groups of women who come together regularly to support each other