Women, ethnic minorities more likely to find mentorship programs helpful
- Women and ethnic minority respondents find formal mentoring especially valuable to their careers, but also believe employers can do more to improve their experience, according to a survey from executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. The survey polled over 1,000 North American professionals
- Survey results also show that 30% of women respondents said that mentoring was extremely important to their careers, compared to 23% of men and 32% of ethnic minority respondents. Minorities were also more likely (25%) than the overall sample (18%) to say that they had found their own mentor.
- Of the respondents whose organizations provide formal mentoring programs, 74% of ethnic minorities took part, compared with 65% of respondents overall.
Although fewer men than women and minorities in the Heidrick & Struggles study cited mentoring as important to their career development, men have largely benefited from such partnerships. That's particularly so for sponsorships in which they're backed by a senior person at the organization who can vouch for their achievements and recommend them for higher-level job openings.
Betty Spence, president of the National Association for Female Executives, told HR Dive in an interview that men have higher-ups who create opportunities for them, but women often lack such advocates who can clear the way for their upward mobility. Spence said people often promote those who look like themselves, which shuts out women and people of color.
High participation rates in mentoring programs among women and ethnic minorities show how valuable such opportunities are for both groups. Recognizing the unique challenges they face in the workplace can be the difference between a successful mentoring or sponsorship program and one that deprives them of opportunities or even derails their careers.
Both groups are sometimes perceived as less skilled, knowledgeable or capable than men, a notion prominently displayed in the scribblings of ex-Google software engineer James Damore. A recent University of Delaware study found that men were given credit for their ideas more often than women, even when both genders' ideas were identical.
Rosalie Harrison, international management consultant at Borderless, an international executive talent search and leadership consulting firm, told HR Dive that successful mentoring relationships are not gender-specific. Men can mentor women and women can mentor men, she said, adding that good mentors need a sound, inclusive leadership style and a commitment to developing themselves and others.