Mentoring in a Post #MeToo World

Mentoring in a Post #MeToo World

Since 1991, Menttium has been working to help advance women in the workplace with our Menttium 100 program, one of our Cross-Company programs. In the inaugural year of our company and this program, 100 women assembled in MN to learn and grow as leaders. Due to this unique cohort’s size and location, we decided to name our female mentoring program “Minnesota 100” back at that time to honor the 100 women who gathered for the first time 27 years ago.

Since 1991, our Menttium 100 program has seen significant growth. To date, this program has expanded globally and to numerous organizations that are committed to developing and advancing women. There has never been a more critical time to be purposeful in driving leadership development efforts focused on women.

The Intrinsic Potential of Mentoring for Women

Each woman is different and will have different goals she is aiming to achieve in the workplace. Through our mentoring programs, Menttium works to equip professional women with the skills they need to succeed in their chosen career path. In our recent #PressForProgress, International Women’s Day post about an incredible Menttium woman making an impact, Jackie Seto, Principal at Side People, provided some insight on how mentoring has helped her. On the subject of what her mentor taught her, Jackie had this to say, “He taught me how to think about things from an operational focus and financial focus which was especially helpful to me coming from an engineering background. I also learned a lot about leadership – how to lead by example, how to lead with vision, and with the appropriate level of emotion.”

This article reminded us of another piece, titled 12 Habits That Hold Women Back at Work – An Exclusive Extract From How Women Rise by Marshall Goldsmith and Sally Helgesen. You may recognize these names as the authors behind How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job, which was just published in April of this year.

The article artfully pointed out some of the habits that some women, or men, may find themselves developing over time in the workplace. The overarching aim of the piece was to help identify non-intrinsic behaviors that an individual may have developed in the workplace as temporary solutions or coping mechanisms for more significant issues. In conclusion, Goldsmith and Helgesen made a point of explicitly recommending peer-to-peer coaching that is both continuing and reciprocal.

With yet another source pointing to a reciprocative mentoring or coaching relationship as a valuable outlet for all working professionals, what does one do when suddenly faced with a lack of mentors, due to reluctance on the part of potential mentees or mentors to seek out a partnership, rather than a shortage of experienced professionals?

When #MeToo Becomes #NotMe

Mentoring holds great potential for professional women, but what happens when we reach a point where employees become afraid to step into the role of mentor? The #MeToo movement has brought about many positive changes across a diverse range of industries and has prompted important conversations. Yet while the positive actions that have come from this powerful movement are definitely weighty, there has been one unfortunate consequence to emerge in the wake of this long-overdue movement.  

In a recent study published by LeanIn and Survey Monkey, nearly half of male managers polled responded by indicating that they are longer comfortable participating in common work activities with women. Additionally, to compound the issue, the number of men uncomfortable mentoring women jumped from 5% to 16%, meaning that one in six male managers is now hesitant to mentor a woman. This hesitation is a major setback in the ongoing effort to increase female representation in leadership roles. What this means, unfortunately, is that there is a growing pool of working women looking for mentors and a shrinking pool of men willing to step into such a role. And with so few women currently occupying leadership roles, women must rely heavily on experienced male leaders to provide some of the leadership guidance they need to further their career and grow as professionals.

It’s Time to #MentorHer

There’s no need for us to dive into all of the well-documented benefits of having women in leadership positions across all sectors nor the value of mentoring in the workplace. From more generous workplace policies to reducing incidents of sexual harassment, installing a mentorship program in your place of work with the intent of advancing women will offer benefits to the individual mentors, mentees, and organization overall. And now, Sheryl Sandberg has created the #MentorHer Campaign to assist in the ongoing pursuit of gender parity.

The movement aims to help men and women come together to break away from the status quo in the pursuit of what could be. Now more than ever, we need to come together, regardless of gender, as coworkers to mentor one another so that we might reform the modern workplace. It is only through a partnership between professional men and women that change will come. Through mentoring,more women will earn positions of leadership, helping to balance the scales and make the workplace stronger and safer for everyone.

Our Menttium team is proud to stand by the #MeToo, and #MentorHer campaign and play our part in the pursuit of gender parity. Through our Menttium 100 program, and our support of these vital social movements, we are helping women to achieve their leadership goals and equip them with the skills and resources they need to continue succeeding and advancing. Whether you’re looking to advance or are aiming to improve your performance through improving habits, our team is here to help.