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Lynn Sontag

Menttium CEO & Owner

A Statement from Menttium’s CEO on the #MentorHer Campaign

In February of 2018, LeanIn.org and Survey Monkey announced disappointing results of a recent survey. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, almost half of male managers responded that they are no longer comfortable participating in common work activities with women. Most troubling, the number of men uncomfortable mentoring women jumped from 5% to 16%. That means one in six male managers may now hesitate to mentor women, which would be a major setback in the ongoing effort to increasing female representation in leadership roles. As a result, Sheryl Sandberg has launched the #MentorHer campaign to push for greater mentoring of women.

 

There is no need to detail here the well-recognized benefits of having women in leadership positions across all sectors: better financial performance, more generous workplace policies and reduced incidents of sexual harassment, among others. Most organizations are actively working toward increasing the diversity of their leadership teams and boards for exactly these reasons. Mentoring is a well-established, critical strategy to advancing women and professionals of color into those leadership positions. Mentors must come from the top: that means men. The latest update from Catalyst shows women CEO’s at 5.2% of the S&P 500 companies, and the percentages at the next few levels are not much better.

 

At Menttium, we have focused exclusively on formal mentoring for 27 years, and mentoring women holds a special place in our hearts. At our founding, Menttium focused exclusively on female leaders in Minnesota, and although we have expanded to include all leaders globally, our program for women remains one of our most popular.

 

There is plenty of data to prove the value of mentoring in the workplace. Our 80,000+ Menttium program participants all over the world talk about the enduring impact formal mentors have on accelerating their development and advancement opportunities. Our program survey results show overall increase in mentees’ engagement, retention and job performance in the 90+ percentile, as well as profound gains in confidence.

 

But the benefits of formal mentoring don’t end with the mentee. Our mentors point to numerous benefits including honing their coaching & leadership skills, fulfillment from giving back, and learning from the front-line leaders of organizations. The men who mentor women in our programs reap additional benefits, including a diverse professional network and a reputation for advancing women within their organizations. As one of our longest-tenured mentors, a former senior executive at Occidental Chemical, reflected, “Why mentor? If you care about others and want to help them, this is an opportunity to share what you’ve learned with others eager for guidance. My greatest joy is to see mentees grow and develop while they push their own boundaries into discomfort zones, trying new techniques that otherwise might not be explored. Often, their newly found self-confidence and skills are rewarded with added responsibility and promotions. Most of my 20 years as a Menttium mentor have been coaching women, and I’m proud to say that many of those capable women have done very well in their companies.”

 

In addition, aligned with our philosophy that learning happens at the point of difference, cross-gender mentoring partnerships gain unique, diverse perspectives from one another. They challenge each other to see the world through a different lens than their own, fostering growth and mutual learning.

 

Gender parity cannot and will not happen without women and men joining together to break away from the status quo and continuing to strive for what could be. Both the #MeToo and #MentorHer movements are moving us in the right direction. We need men to mentor women and vice versa so we can all “win” by supporting each other and striving for equity.

 

The Menttium team stands with the #MentorHer Campaign in the ongoing pursuit of gender parity. As Sheryl Sandberg so aptly summarized this week, “this is the moment to invest more in woman, rather than less." I invite both men and women reading this statement to reach out to us and find out more about becoming a formal mentor.

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