Co-written with Kate Ward, Head of Partnerships InHerSight
Mentorship programs get a lot of buzz as the key to improving gender equality in the workplace. As more and more companies look for ways to increase representation of women at senior levels, mentorship or sponsorship is often cited as a key to helping women reach that next rung on the corporate ladder. And many powerful women, such as Sheryl Sandberg, have cited the importance of mentors to their personal career success.
With approximately 75% of Fortune 500 companies offering formal mentoring programs and 25% of U.S medium and large companies offering programs, corporate America has embraced the idea, but are these programs achieving their potential?
Are people being thrown together without a lot of thought to what the experience should be?
Are companies understanding the true business case for mentoring and what it means to all parties?
Do we recognize the act of mentoring, and the people who mentor as the ones who help drive engagement and retention at our companies?
Are mentors and mentees being trained?
We spent some quality time with the dynamic team at workplace review site, InHerSight. They have collected employer ratings from tens of thousands of women. One of the 14 metrics they get feedback on is women’s satisfaction with her company’s “mentorship and sponsorship programs”. We have written a lot about sponsorship in earlier posts. Turns out, at least among women, corporate mentorship programs could really use some work and investment.
A recent review of their data found that “mentorship and sponsorship programs” is the lowest rated metric of all 14 that they capture with an overall score of 2.2 out of 5 stars.
InHerSight’s research also found that a company’s mentorship program is highly correlated with women’s overall satisfaction and happiness at a company, which means if your female employees are unhappy with your mentorship program, they are more likely to be unsatisfied at work.
And here’s where the data was most interesting, a deeper dive showed that women’s satisfaction with their company’s mentorship program is a stronger predictor of overall satisfaction at a company the later women are in their careers.
Our assessment, women as they grow in their careers truly want to see others self-actualize. They also want to build stronger sponsoring relationships to feel validated, supported and championed in their careers.
Julie Kantor is the CEO of Twomentor, LLC a management consulting firm that is passionate about building mentoring cultures to drive retention.