What’s Mentorship Got to Do With It?
Female Mentorship in Marketing
In 2019 McKinsey found that for every 100 men promoted, only 72 women were. In 2021, that number has increased to 86. Women’s professional success increased for one main reason: female mentorship.
Mentors are important in any profession. They provide their mentees with valuable insight and advice from their experience and wisdom. That counsel helps young professionals avoid early pitfalls and make more effective career decisions. It also provides valuable access to professional connections and networking opportunities. Female mentorship is especially valuable. It provides women with professional guidance with feminine perspectives that a masculine mentor will lack. It’s also vital to closing the “broken rug” that keeps women out of manager level positions in most industries.
Rosewood’s own founder, Deanna Simone knows female mentoring has been and continues to be an important part of her career, “While I’ve never had an official mentor, I’ve attracted a circle of incredible women who wouldn’t hesitate to share their successes, failures, and experiences.”
Two women stand out in her mind, “I’ve been fortunate enough to have shadowed two, very important women in business, Hollie Hoadley of Creative Solutions and Nikki Pett of Sigma Promotions. Nikki was the first ‘bad-ass boss babe’ I ever knew, and I worked for her company from ages 14-17. I believe she was one of the sparks of my entrepreneurial journey. Hollie Hoadley is a current mentor. She’s 1-year ahead of me in business and is a constant form of support and inspiration, and has become a dear friend.”
The benefits of mentoring are clear for both mentees and mentors. Overall, 25% of a group who participated in a mentoring program received a salary increase in comparison to only 5% of those who did not. 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered and confident in their careers, are respectively 6 and 5 times more likely to be promoted, and have significantly higher retention rates. This means mentoring is vital to ensuring women obtain director and managerial positions. Mentoring also improves workplace culture and increases professional diversity. A study at Cornell University found that mentoring programs also increased representation within a company by up to 28% and improved retention rates of people of colour and female employees by up to 38%.
Female mentorship is especially important for professional success in marketing because it is predominately a feminine industry. Women make up 60% of the marketing workforce in North America. That gender split has only recently started to reflect in higher level positions. Only 47% senior roles in 2019 were held by women. That grew in 2021, when 53% of director-level positions and 59% of manager-level positions were held by women. That is far better than the 37% average over all industries, where female mentoring is only more vital. Racial diversity, however, is still lagging in marketing. Only 13% of Chief Marketing Officers having racially diverse backgrounds. Mentoring is vital to continue improving both numbers, female mentoring especially. Overall, women in senior positions are far more likely than senior-level men to mentor women of colour.
After two years of the COVID pandemic, mentoring for women has only become more essential. Women disproportionately suffered the pandemic’s damages to the workplace. Their jobs were 1.8 times more vulnerable than men’s. Mounting pressures from the pandemic severely slowed and stalled women’s careers. Due to the increased time dedicated to childcare and household responsibilities, women were far more likely to downshift their careers or consider leaving their jobs entirely. In September of 2020, the number of women who left their jobs was four times greater than men.
To improve and repair this damage, workplaces will need to be increasingly flexible, and employees must receive the necessary supports. Part of that support will be mentors that help their mentees manage their workloads, deal with burnout, and handle work-life balances. Only female mentors will understand how certain pressures affect other female professionals.
How to Find a Mentor
So female mentorship is important for professional success, but how do you find one? It’s best to get a mentor who has reached some of the career milestones you have set for yourself. You also don’t need to restrict yourself to one. Multiple perspectives can help you make more informed decisions. However, you’ll also need to find these mentors. There are a few places you can look for one. One option is mentoring programs. Some larger organizations provide mentoring programs, where you can receive mentorship and sponsoring support from a senior-level staff member within the company’s structure. You can also ask your manager or director for recommendations of suitable mentors they may know.
Mentors also don’t need to be your seniors in the industry. Mentorship relationships can also be made among your colleagues who may have no or only a little more experience than you. These mentors lack the insight of one with more experience. However, they still act as a valuable sounding board for ideas or concerns. They are no less capable of providing professional guidance, perspective, and feedback. The greater equality in the relationship will also allow you to be a mentor them in return. Deanna cherishes her own cross-mentoring relationships, “The best feeling is when I can give-back and help her [Hollie] in-turn.”
If your workplace doesn’t offer mentoring programs or you can’t find a suitable mentor through your workplace, networking is a great option. Professional networking events can provide valuable opportunities to meet potential mentors in your industry. Digital networks can also help you find potential mentors such as alumni networks or LinkedIn connections. There are also networking services that provide mentoring opportunities for a fee. Monday Girl is a networking platform dedicated to connecting women with mentoring opportunities that suit their own professional goals.
Becoming a Mentor
Mentoring also benefits mentors. So, how do you start? The same avenues we mentioned for finding a mentor also work for becoming one. You can offer yourself as a mentor in mentoring programs possibly offered by your company or to various networking services and platforms. You can also provide mentoring to those you oversee in your workplace. Your familiarity with their work gives you an advantage for how to best support their professional development.
Mentoring relationships also don’t have to be rigid or official. Deanna’s own mentoring relationships have been what she calls “moment-mentors.” While not official mentors, they all provided her with the same professional insight and comradery as more formal mentorships.
Denna’s also been an eager “moment-mentor” herself, “I’ve been happy to share my well-rounded knowledge with female solopreneurs. Anything from proper start-up processes, do they need an HST number, what computer should they buy, what platforms should they market on, etc.” As a result, she’s also currently developing Rosewood Academy, an online course “with the specific goal of mentoring Female Solopreneurs.” Look for that in the future.
Mentorship is vital for supporting female professionals and ensuring women enjoy professional success, reaching and continuing to hold management- and executive-level positions. The recent pandemic has only placed additional pressures and barriers on female professionals. As a result, female mentors are crucial to building professional environments that welcome and encourage women to (again) pursue their careers. It isn’t the professional expertise that Deanna believes was most important in her mentoring, “The most valuable thing these “moment-mentors” have ever brought to my life was a feeling of belonging: knowing that, while my path is unique, it’s a collection of experiences that others have gone through before me.”
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