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commit to
mentor women

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.

Since the recent media reports of sexual harassment, almost half of male managers are uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together.2

See the data

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

Women are 24% less likely than men to get advice from senior leaders.9

And 62% of women of color say the lack of an influential mentor holds them back.10

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


“Want to fight sexual harassment? Don’t avoid women. Mentor them.”

A call to action from Rachel Thomas and Stacy Brown-Philpot in the Wall Street Journal

Read the op-ed

What good mentorship looks like

Women receive less of the high-quality mentorship that accelerates careers, so find at least one woman (and ideally several) to mentor and commit to get it right. Here’s what
you should know and do

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.

Did you know?

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

#MentorHer Stories

What women in our Lean In Circles community—and their male mentors—have to say about the power of mentorship

“Brian made sure that I knew the importance of being a good plumber and union member. He never treated me like others did—as ‘just a woman.’ He saw me as a person, as someone who wanted to learn the craft.”

—Judaline, plumber & founder of Lean In Women in Trades

“When Judaline tried to get into the union, at first they didn’t want to accept her. I spoke up for her because I knew the business manager at our local. I told him, ‘She’s a keeper. Don’t shut her out.’”

—Brian, plumber & welder

Men vastly outnumber women as managers and senior leaders, so when they avoid, ice out, or exclude women, we pay the price.

—Sheryl Sandberg

#MentorHer in action

Women and men share the power of mentorship in their own lives and commit to mentor women.


  1. LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey survey, January 2018.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Tammy D. Allen et al., “Career Benefits Associated with Mentoring for Proteges: A Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Applied Psychology 89, no. 1 (Feb. 2004): 127–36,; Catalyst, Mentoring: Necessary but Insufficient for Advancement, 2010,
  4. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2017,
  5. Allen et al., “Career Benefits Associated with Mentoring for Proteges.”
  6. George F. Dreher and Taylor H. Cox Jr., “Race, gender, and opportunity: A study of compensation attainment and the establishment of mentoring relationships,” Journal of Applied Psychology 81, no. 3 (1996): 297–308,
  7. Miller McPherson, Lynn Smith-Lovin, and James M. Cook, “Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks,” Annual Review of Sociology 27 (2001): 415–44,
  8. LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey survey, January 2018.
  9. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2017.
  10. Deepali Bagati, Women of Color in U.S. Law Firms, Catalyst, 2009,
  11. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2017.
  12. Steven H. Lopez et al., “Power, Status, and Abuse at Work: General and Sexual Harassment Compared,” The Sociological Quarterly 50, no. 1 (2009): 3–27,
  13. Jennifer L. Berdahl, “The Sexual Harassment of Uppity Women,” Journal of Applied Psychology 92, no. 2 (2007): 425–37,
  14. Paul Ingram and Tal Simons, “Institutional and Resource Dependence Determinants of Responsiveness to Work-Family Issues,” The Academy of Management Journal 38, no. 5 (1995): 1466–82,
  15. Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton, and Sara Prince, “Why Diversity Matters,” McKinsey & Company, 2015,
  16. Lopez et al., “Power, Status, and Abuse at Work.”
  17. Vivian Hunt, Lareina Yee, Sara Prince, and Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle, Delivering Through Diversity, McKinsey & Company, 2018,
  18. Sharon Timberlake, “Social capital and gender in the workplace,” Journal of Management Development 24, no. 1 (2005): 34–44,
  19. Sylvia Ann Hewlett et al., The Sponsor Effect: Breaking Through the Last Glass Ceiling (Boston: Harvard Business Review, 2011),
  20. Shelley Correll and Caroline Simard, “Research: Vague Feedback Is Holding Women Back,” Harvard Business Review, April 29, 2016,
  21. LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey survey, February 2018.