A major challenge facing women planning on entering the professional world isn’t a lack of initiative or funding, but rather an absence of formal mentors within their fields. With very few female CEOs, COOs or leaders in general, women starting out in their careers have very few people to choose from when it comes to creating a personal, working & learning relationship.
This creates a huge gap in career progression & development between men and women. Men can find roles in more senior positions taken up by other men, and can, more easily, find access to those willing to share their time and skills. This is especially true for those mentors higher up in the career ladder, who will have more time to offer to a newer or younger worker. With a lack of female mentors in the first place, and those who do mentor often having to juggle different roles such as being mothers and business owners, for example, there is little time left to share with others.
At least 63% of business women in the UK have never had a formal mentor in the business sector, even though female-led businesses make up just over a third of UK businesses. Additionally, whilst it is important to recognize that we can meet mentors in different aspects of our lives in a more informal manner, it is invaluable for a woman joining the corporate setting to have a formal mentor.
For example, Aimee, a student at the University of Manchester who is finishing her degree in Business & Economics, has found more benefits from having a mentor than she initially anticipated.
“Through having a mentor I was able to learn about the changes in the industry I’m wanting to go into. Hearing about the updates to hiring practices, business pitching styles and even workplace formalities has allowed me to adapt my answers to interview questions. Learning more about my prospective industry allows me to feel more confident in my future."
Aimee also discussed the importance of having a female mentor: “Having someone to relate to when learning from was important to me. I could ask more personal questions around sexism and more specific challenges that she faced within corporate working culture. Not only that, but I can see my mentor being someone that I could learn from when I hopefully set up my own business in the future. The skills that she has been able to perfect through experience, along with the relationship we have built over time, makes me feel incredibly lucky to be learning from someone like my mentor.”
Just as Aimee mentioned, mentors can help build both personal and professional skills. For example, learning how to improve your pitch from an experienced speaker will not only create more business opportunities, but will also improve your own confidence in general.
Mentors themselves will have had to learn how to overcome a specific business adversity, such as difficulty with funding or challenges facing to-be competitors. These aspirational teaching and learning moments not only allow for an enthusiastic and positive business approach, but also create a more supportive environment that women in business deserve.
The myriad of benefits that arise from forming a mentor-mentee relationship are endless, and in this post-pandemic world, the more avenues for career progression & development women have, the better. This is why at LevelUp we are committed to helping women find the mentors they deserve, so that they can excel within their chosen careers.