Men uncomfortable mentoring women. Now what?
Workplace dynamics are shifting. Troublesome data indicates males are second-guessing dynamics with female colleagues.
According to a study by Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg’s organization that empowers women – 45% of male managers are now uncomfortable mentoring junior-level female employees.1
Add to this that women are:
• 54% less likely to have a sponsor and
• 24% less likely to get advice from senior leaders.
This doesn’t play well for women advancement.
At large companies, it’s critical for rising talent to connect with superiors. For women, this is especially necessary at organizations where gender balance doesn’t tip their way. When women have an advocate, their career is more likely to go to the next level. Women need these advocates more than ever.
Play your part in this by mentoring. Here are three ways to be a great one.
1. Pay it forward.
Part of being a great leader is keeping an eye out for high potentials and offering to cultivate their skills. Maybe you had someone do the same for you at the start of your career. Maintain this ‘pay it forward’ mentality by continuously seeking opportunities to provide guidance and share your expertise.
2. Don’t be a fairy godfather/godmother.
It’s natural to want to solve problems and remove barriers. However, a great mentor is there to guide the individual to analyze problems and situations on their own. You can do this by posing challenging questions, strategizing on ways to remove roadblocks, and assigning stretch projects that enable her to hone a new skill. Remember to empower the person to solve problems on her own.
3. Take it to the next level – be an advocate.
Good mentors are also advocates/sponsors. Look for opportunities to promote your mentee so she gains visibility up the org chart. This exposure can lead to bigger projects, more developmental opportunities, and promotions. Receiving advice from a mentor is great – but it’s not always strategic to the individual’s career. Proactively advocating for her cultivates further opportunities and growth.