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We’re at a pivotal moment.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, it’s clearer than ever we need to put an end to sexual harassment. But that is not enough. There is evidence of a backlash that could be harmful to women: twice as many male managers now feel uncomfortable working alone with a woman.1 This is a step in the wrong direction. Now more than ever, we need men working with—and mentoring—women. When more women lead, workplaces are stronger and safer for everyone.
Why mentorship matters
It’s critical to success
Mentorship is critical to the success of women across industries. We all benefit when a colleague shows us the ropes and sponsors us for new opportunities—particularly when they’re more senior, as men often are.3 This type of support can be especially impactful for women of color, who are less likely to receive career guidance from managers and senior leaders.4
People with mentors are more likely to get promoted.5
Women get less
Women get less of the mentorship and sponsorship that opens doors.6 Whether this is driven by sexism or because men (perhaps unconsciously) gravitate toward helping other men, the result is that women miss out.7 Making matters worse, the number of men who are uncomfortable mentoring women has more than tripled since the recent media coverage on sexual harassment.8
What happens if men don’t take action
Women are already underrepresented in most organizations, especially at senior levels.11 If fewer men mentor women, fewer women will rise to leadership. As long as this imbalance of power remains, women and other marginalized groups are at greater risk of being overlooked, undermined, and harassed.12
Sexual harassment is twice as common in male-dominated organizations as it is in female-dominated organizations.13
What happens if men step up
If more men mentor women, it will ultimately lead to stronger and safer workplaces for everyone. When more women are in leadership, organizations offer employees more generous policies14 and produce better business results.15 And when organizations employ more women, sexual harassment is less prevalent.16
Organizations with diverse leadership realize higher profits.17
What good mentorship looks like
Women are often excluded
Women are often left out of team activities18 and business travel so they have less opportunity to build valuable relationships.
Commit to equal access
Make sure the women you work with get equal access. If you’re uncomfortable going to dinner with female colleagues, meet everyone for breakfast—and encourage other men to do the same.
Women have fewer sponsors
Women are less likely to have a sponsor who advocates and opens doors for them.19
Advocate for a woman
Put women’s names forward for stretch assignments and promotions and introduce them to the influential people in your network—these personal connections can propel careers.
Women tend to get vague feedback
Women are more likely to get advice on their personal style such as, “The way you speak can be off-putting,” while men tend to get skills-based feedback that helps them improve their performance.20
Give actionable advice
Give women specific input on the skills they need to build and tie it to business outcomes. For example, “You should deepen your knowledge of digital marketing so we can reach more customers online.” Actionable feedback like this helps your mentee build the know-how to advance.
Senior men are 3.5 times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner with a junior-level woman than with a junior-level man—and 5 times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior-level woman.21
—Judaline, plumber & founder of Lean In Women in Trades
—Brian, plumber & welder
#MentorHer in action
#Repost @renarae07 with @get_repost ・・・ One of my cool male mentors is...Mr. Kubota. He was my teacher from Junior High to High school. He told me to look at the world differently and he also taught me it’s okay to be different while school culture told me otherwise. He is still mentoring me now as we discuss to start the movement to accept diversity in Japan. I’m so glad that he was supporting me all the way! Thank you Mr. Kubota! #MentorHer #leanintokyo #leanin #リーンイン #リーンイン東京 #久保T #メンター
Lean In Atlanta member, Hayley Hamilton, shared with us her story of how a male mentor has brought value to her personal life and career. • “I just finished grad school last July. I met John on the first day of his class. We had shared interests in biking, and my career interests aligned with a lot of the work he had done. He took me under his wing and shared many networking and learning opportunities with me. He chaired my capstone project and was one of the single handed reasons I have my job today.” • #MentorHer #LeanInATL #Equality #Empowerment
Pictured above is my mentor, Ben Tracy! Ben was my first boss in my first job out of college, and played a huge role in teaching me sales, building up my confidence during deal negotiation, and making sure that I had proper exposure to leadership and promotion opportunities -- he actually promoted me three times at my last job! Ben has continued acting as a mentor as I further my career in sales, and has always been available for advice, both career wise and personally, as we now work for separate companies. #MentorHer #LeanInATL #CommitToMentorHer #LeanIn Learn more about the #MentorHer movement at leanin.org
Not every mentorship story starts out as a typical one. Walter and I met 3 years ago when we served together on the board of the International Coaching Federation of TN. We both have our own coaching practices here in Nashville so we would often talk “shop” before and after meetings. Even though we were more like colleagues, Walter, a former Chief Master Sergeant in the USAF, always had words of wisdom for me concerning my career and the coaching industry. I was smart enough to listen and take notes. . Walter offers great business advice learned from his own experience, and is a great sounding board for me. He opened up a whole new range of career opportunities for me in the last few years. . Don't be afraid to continue the conversation when you find someone who is open to helping you succeed. . #mentorher #mentors #coaching #nashville #businesscoach #leanin #leaninmentorher