How to Create a Women's Mentorship Program in Your Company
Workplace conditions for women have come a long way in the past few decades – yet there is still much progress to be made.
Experienced female professionals have endured numerous gender-related issues throughout their careers. Many have successfully navigated around these roadblocks and still managed to rise through the ranks in the companies they work for.
Women in leadership positions in your company can offer guidance to young females who are early in their career. Some people naturally find mentors in the workplace but not everyone is so fortunate. Creating a women’s mentorship program provides every female employee the opportunity to offer or accept guidance.
Common issues women face in the workplace
The modern workplace has evolved into a more inclusive environment in a short time. However, women still face numerous problems that men don’t. Here are few common women’s issues still prevalent in many workplaces:
- Gender income inequality
Females make about 20 percent less than their male counterparts. That’s wildly unfair but many companies are now committed to closing internal pay gaps.
- Work-family life balance
Working mothers have two full-time careers. Unfortunately, too many companies still expect females to prioritize their job instead of being flexible for working parents.
- Gender bias and stereotypes
Some people still subscribe to generalizations, including gender biases. Employees should be judged on their professional qualifications and accomplishments, not labeled with stereotypes.
- Career advancement barriers
Men dominate the upper ranks of many companies. Many women are still passed over for promotions in favor of less-qualified males.
It’s not as out in the open as it once was but harassment towards women still occurs in the workplace.
While our society is working on changing circumstances for women, progress is slow. For example, the gender pay gap won’t be eliminated until 2059 at our current place.
That means a female fresh out college and entering the workforce today will encounter many of these problems throughout her career.
How to create a women’s mentorship program
Communication is a big part of resolving women’s issues in the workplace. It’s important these problems be known and discussed so everyone can be part of the solution.
A women’s mentorship program is a great way to create an environment where issues can openly be discussed by your female employees. The conversations will be constructive since experience females will be able to provide advice and perspective to the women they mentor. Here are some tips for creating a successful women’s mentorship program for your company:
- Form a group to lead the program
If you’re creating a women’s mentorship program in your company, people have likely expressed a desire for it. Ask them to participate in creating your program so you can ensure it ends up being what they had in mind.
- Involve women from your leadership team
Your program should certainly involve the most successful females in your company. They’re the ones who can tell young women what it takes to achieve the highest level of career success.
- Create goals for your program
Setting goals for your women’s mentorship program allows your company to measure it’s effectiveness over time. For example, you can set targets for increasing female representation in management and track how many mentees are promoted.
- Recruit women to participate in the program
Invite every female in your company to participate as a mentor or mentee. You don’t want anyone to miss out on the opportunity.
How formal should your women’s mentorship program be?
Mentorship programs often entail pairing an inexperienced employee with someone in a leadership position. They’re both expected to meet weekly and discuss whatever is on the mentee’s mind.
This approach is a little too forced. Some pairs will hit it off and others won’t. The ones that don’t form a strong relationship won’t benefit from the mentorship program.
It can be a better idea to start with an open group where all the program participants meet to share thoughts and feelings. This approach allows all your female employees to form a strong bond and personal mentorship relationships to grow from there.
A women’s mentorship program is the right step forward
There is a lot we all have to do to finally level the playing field in the workplace. Hopefully, our society soon overcomes gender-related work issues but until then a women’s mentorship program can help your female employees take on the challenges they encounter.