Mentoring in Business: Women Empowering Women

Mentoring in Business: Women Empowering Women 

Thought Leadership

By Niki Mapouras-Hyder, Professional Development Mentor and Founder of NMH.

Mentoring has gained significant traction in the corporate world, with individuals and organisations exploring how to maximise mentorship opportunities for personal and professional development. Figures suggest that over 70% of Fortune 500 companies use mentoring, and it’s certainly something we’re seeing more of in the Middle East.

Mentoring offers multiple advantages to all involved:

  • The mentee gains guidance, insights, and access to networks, boosting their confidence, developing their skills, and enhancing their decision-making.

  • The mentor can expand their leadership skills, share knowledge, and contribute to the success of others, resulting in a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

  • The organisation sees, among other benefits, increased productivity as well as higher levels of motivation and retention, all of which impact profitability.

Different Types of Mentoring

Mentoring takes various forms, which you can explore for you and your staff, inside and outside of the workplace:

  • Formal: Structured programmes within your organisation, connecting experienced employees with newcomers. Another emerging avenue of interest is reverse mentoring, whereby someone junior mentors someone senior in an area they wish to develop.

  • Informal: One-on-one relationships built through personal connections. Many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders credit informal mentors for facilitating their continued growth.

  • Specialised: Programmes focusing on specific areas like business, lifestyle, or wellbeing. As a business owner, you have a lot to deal with daily, and it’s incredibly valuable to have someone who can help with mindset strategies and practical knowledge.

Women Mentoring Women

There is no doubt that everyone can benefit from mentoring. But, in the context of women mentoring women, it gains even greater significance. Why? Because women still face unique challenges in their overall career progression and entrepreneurial journeys.

Common challenges faced by female founders where mentoring can help include:

  • Access to funding and networks: Mentoring bridges the gap to resources and connections typically dominated by men.

  • Imposter syndrome and confidence issues: Mentors provide encouragement and role models, fostering self-belief.

  • Work-life balance: Experienced women offer guidance on navigating the juggling act of entrepreneurship and personal life.

What’s more, the impact of women mentoring women goes beyond just connecting individuals. It creates a ripple effect, fostering success stories that pave the way for a more equitable and thriving business landscape in the future. When women mentor women, it encourages:

  • Shared experiences: Female mentors understand the specific challenges women face, empathising and offering tailored advice. Having a female mentor who has overcome these hurdles themselves provides invaluable guidance and empathy. They understand the nuances and can offer tailored advice that resonates deeply.

  • Role models: Seeing successful women mentors inspires mentees to believe in their own potential. This is something the business community can focus on to empower younger women rising through the workforce.

  • Collective empowerment: By supporting each other's growth, women collectively elevate the entire ecosystem. Each success story becomes an inspiration and opens doors for others. With more women reaching leadership positions and building thriving businesses, they challenge existing power structures and pave the way for a more equitable business landscape.

Whether you are interested in finding your mentor, becoming a mentor, or embedding mentorship within your organisation, here are some steps to take.

Finding your mentor:

  • Define your needs and goals.

  • Explore online directories and platforms.

  • Utilise professional networks and communities.

  • Focus on shared values and experiences.

  • Seek personal connections and recommendations.

Becoming a mentor:

  • Identify your expertise and passion for mentoring.

  • Connect with organisations or platforms seeking mentors.

  • Be clear about your commitment and availability.

  • Approach mentoring with empathy, active listening, and genuine support.

Introducing mentoring at work:

  • Outline your overall objectives.

  • Talk about why you, as the boss, think mentoring is important and your own experiences of learning from others.

  • Consider bringing in a professional who can analyse your company’s needs and advise on best practices.

  • Ask staff what they want.

  • Establish clear guidelines.

Studies have shown that companies with diverse leadership teams outperform those with less diversity. Mentorship fosters diversity by bringing more women into leadership roles, leading to better decision-making, innovation, and overall company performance. Mentoring is a two-way street. Both mentors and mentees gain valuable experiences and contribute to a more diverse and thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. As an SME founder, you’re in a strong position to set an example and drive change, so mentoring becomes an essential part of working life today.

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