When women are empowered to lead, everyone wins. Yet, women continue to be underrepresented in management roles in the U.S. workforce, according to research conducted by LinkedIn. The report estimates that less than a third of leadership positions are held by women globally. In the U.S., only 37% of leadership positions are held by women despite women comprising 47% of the workforce. On top of that, the gender wage gap continues to widen, with women, on average, being paid 22% less than men. Yet women want to advance their careers. One powerful way to boost career growth is by building relationships with mentors in the workplace.
Female mentors or “femtors” are typically seasoned professionals who support mentees by providing professional guidance and support. While mentoring benefits mentees, it also brings value to the mentor and the organization. Being a mentor provides a sense of fulfillment while establishing leadership skills and adding to their qualifications. For companies, mentoring programs foster a diverse, inclusive and collaborative environment while helping to grow and develop high-potential leaders.
Having mentors in the workplace can benefit your career, whether you’re an entry-level or senior-level professional. Here are some reasons why.
Mentors hold you accountable
When you struggle to stay afloat at work, creating a career plan and following through can be difficult. A mentor helps you set measurable, achievable goals and holds you accountable. They also assist with breaking long-term goals down into smaller action items so that you stay focused and on track. Regular check-ins to assess your objectives and determine areas of improvement is a key aspect of mentorship. Then when you achieve your aspirations, you’ll find that your productivity and job satisfaction naturally increase.
Mentors have real-life experience
When you work with a mentor, you benefit from learning from someone who has been there and done that. They can provide a valuable perspective on the current work environment. Plus, mentors are typically further along in their careers, so they can share advice based on real-life insights.
Mentors inspire and motivate
Another benefit of having a mentor is that they inspire you to overcome obstacles. They provide encouragement and act as a sounding board. If you struggle with aspects of your job or career, a mentor provides a safe space to discuss challenges and possible solutions. While the mentee takes ownership of their own learning, the mentor leverages their experience to guide the mentee in the right direction.
Mentors identify areas for improvement
A primary benefit of career mentoring is receiving constructive feedback. Mentors are active listeners who can shine a light on your strengths and weaknesses. This benefits individuals who aren’t in touch with their unique gifts and improvement areas. Your mentor can also help you strategize about other development topics like setting healthy workplace boundaries or dealing with imposter syndrome. By developing a healthy self-awareness, you will be more likely to reach your full potential.
Mentors help expand your network
Having a mentor can multiply a mentee’s professional network. For example, a mentor can guide you so that you don’t waste time cultivating connections that won’t help you reach your goals. They can also offer you access to their own personal and professional contacts. With research showing that 70% of all jobs are not published publicly and as much as 80% of jobs are filled through personal and professional connections, this is a huge benefit.
Working one on one with a trusted advisor can be a transformational experience. Yet, according to a DDI study, 63% of women have never had a formal mentor. Don’t wait to reach out to someone you admire and respect. Chances are, that person had mentors throughout their career and now would be more than happy to return the favor.