January is National Mentoring Month (#NaMeMo) in the United States, and while the month originally focused on mentoring youth, it has now grown to include all forms of mentoring. For us at Leading Women, our research has found that mentoring women is not only good for the women being mentored, but other women in the pipeline and their company's bottom line.
Women at the Top - Good for Business
First, we know that women at the top of organizations and on corporate boards is just plain good for business. We don’t believe that women at the top necessarily causes this higher performance. Rather, we believe that women get to the top as part of a virtuous cycle created by high-performing companies that value performance over patronage and competence over connections. As a matter of fact, a FORTUNE article on companies with high percentages of women at the top described these companies as:
"fanatical about measurement, use empirical standards, clear goals and frequent reviews to identify and reward high performers.”
It stands to reason that if the pipeline is full of women, companies that reward real performance will inevitably have more women at the top. These performance-focused companies (or true meritocracies) are likely to achieve the higher ROE and TRS that Catalyst measures and higher profit as found by McKinsey, Glass Ceiling Research Center and HBR researchers.
Women at the Top - Good for Women
Second, having more women at the top is good for other women as well.
The Forum of Executive Women reports that at a "tipping point" of 3 women (or 25%), women begin to have a voice in governance. "It is often the women on boards who raise the most questions about how a company is cultivating a diverse pool of employees...research confirms that when governing board members are diverse, their firms are less likely to break the law and more likely to perform well." (83 of the F500 companies have 3 or more women on board)
The London Business School reports that at a critical mass of 30% women in senior positions, companies begin to create cultures supportive of women's advancement.
Companies with more women at the top increase pay equity from 77¢ on the man’s dollar to 91¢ and more.
Having more women on boards highlights the importance of running a company well enough that the best people are being promoted – regardless of race or gender. Having women in senior positions also cultivates a culture supportive of women’s advancement – true meritocracies. And having women at the top increases pay equity.
Why Mentoring Matters
Getting women to the top is important and we've known for decades that having a mentor is one key to advancement. And recent research tells us that mentoring is a success factor for women's initiatives. Mentoring is not just crucial for your or your protégé’s career success, it’s benefits women’s collective career success. Even if your protégé moves ahead of you on the corporate ladder remember what Gail Evans has written in She Wins, You Win:
"There’s only one rule that matters, one rule that I have not seen written about in any book, article or web site. That one rue is this: Every woman must always play on the women’s team. Why? Because every time any woman succeeds in business, your chances of succeeding in business increase. And every time a woman fails in business, your chances of failure increase.”
Leading Women's unique approach to educating mentors and proteges will strengthen your mentoring program and help your organization move more women to the top.