A lot of people refer to March as "March Madness" because of the college and pro basketball games that are shown all over the networks. But many people are not aware that just recently, in 1987, the US Congress declared it to be National Women's History Month.
The role of American women in history and in the present is very critical to today's growing society. Think of some strong women from the past and present: Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earheart, Madeline Albright, Hilary Clinton. These women came to the table with natural talents and abilities, but they were also mentored along the way: by teachers, by peers, even spouses (think Bill Clinton).
No doubt, mentoring can transcend some of the women in your organization to become stronger leaders today...and tomorrow.
So how are you mentoring women? Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Change your organization's mindset, if necessary. Successful organizations think "beyond hiring" to "hiring and developing." Mentoring is one of the most important tools a company can use to "hire and retain" talented women.
- If your program is designed to promote leadership or upper management mobility, it needs to be tied in a meaningful way to leadership development or succession planning programs.
- Linked to the above is the need to select mentors who are well connected in the company and who can also play a "sponsorship" role for the mentoree - however, this role has to be carefully defined so as to avoid some of the political ramifications.
- Another thing to consider? Whether to make the program exclusive for women or provide an integrated program, but with a majority of mentorees being women. Some women have refused to participate in mentoring programs that were exclusive due to negative backlash consequences.
- For women, especially, it is also important to seek out other women who have navigated the culture, but it is equally important to find a male mentor. Since males tend to still hold the most powerful positions in companies, having a male mentor can help break the glass ceiling.
We're open to hearing others tips and strategies for effectively mentoring women. Leave your comment below.