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Breaking Barriers: The Benefits of Mentoring for Women & Ethnic Minorities in Advancing Careers

Mentoring continues to be a beneficial leadership tool for women and ethnic minorities who are looking to advance their leadership skills or better still source business opportunities for several reasons. It provides:-


Greater access to experience and knowledge:

Mentors can provide guidance and advice based on their own experience and knowledge, which can help mentees navigate the challenges of leadership or business opportunities. What mentors do not do is simply impart wisdom from their own experience without understanding and valuing the mentee’s perspective It’s important that the mentor provides opportunities so they can better uncover the potential within.


Opens Doors:

Mentoring relationships can provide mentees with increased visibility within their organisation or industry, which can lead to new opportunities for career advancement.


Boosts confidence and motivation:

Mentoring can help build the confidence and skills of mentees, by providing support and feedback on their performance and helping them develop new skills and competencies as they discover new aspects of themselves.


Better positioned to adress bias, microaggressions and discrimination:

Mentors can provide a safe and supportive environment for mentees to discuss issues related to bias and discrimination, and can offer guidance on how to navigate these challenges. Due to the ‘broken rung’ culture which made it difficult for women and women of colour to advance within their organisation, scarcity at the top means this is the perfect time to think about formalising your career development in a more structured way to avoid being distracted by bias, microaggressions and discrimination.




“Mentors build mentors. Leaders build leaders. When you look at it closely, it’s really one and the same thing” - Tony Dungy, former coach, NFL
Mentoring in action

Managers do play an important role in shaping women’s career development but this does not mean they have the leadership skills or experience to meet this challenge.

That is why there is strong evidence to support the benefits of mentoring for women and ethnic minorities outside of the usual management support. For example, a study by Catalyst found that women who had a mentor were more likely to be promoted than those who did not, and that ethnic minority employees who had a mentor were more likely to feel supported and included in their organisation.


According to McKinsey & Co Latinas and Black women are less likely to report to a manager who supports their career development. Asian and Black women are less likely to have strong allies on their team. Latina and Asian women are more likely than women of other races and ethnicities to have colleagues comment on their culture and nationality. LGBTQ+ women and women with disabilities report experiencing more demeaning and ‘other’ microaggressions when compared to other women. Women with disabilities will often have their competence challenged or undermined.


An example of the benefits of mentoring for diversity and inclusion might involve a company that has established a formal mentoring program for women and ethnic minorities. The programme might provide mentors from senior levels of the organisation, who can offer guidance and support to mentees on issues such as career development, leadership skills, and navigating bias and discrimination. Effective mentoring promotes inclusion and potential to excel in leadership roles.


Benefits

The benefits of mentoring for diversity and inclusion include improved representation of women and ethnic minorities in leadership roles, increased engagement and retention of diverse employees, and improved organisational culture and reputation.


However, there are also potential drawbacks to mentoring programme, such as the potential for mentors to perpetuate bias or for mentees to feel pressure to conform to the expectations of their mentor. It is important for mentoring programmes to be designed and implemented in a way that addresses these concerns and promotes equity and inclusion for all participants.

 

If you enjoyed this post share your views below? Do you believe that aspirational women can use mentoring and coaching to unlock the skills that will make them better prepared and equipped for progression into more senior leadership roles?


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