The Role of Women Mentors in Closing the Gender Leadership Gap

December 23, 2015

CEOs who understand the impact that gender equality has on their business, know it is critically important to address this issue; that it is the smart thing to do for financial reasons as well as ethical ones.  However, gender equality goals cannot be met without solid strategies for how to address these challenges.  Mentoring is one important tranche in a portfolio of strategies to be used to grow women leaders.

Women in positions of leadership, especially at the senior and C-suite levels is impaired by the lack of support and infrastructure to facilitate women’s mobility into leadership roles.  The gender issue creates a variety of challenges. Women are more frequently sponsored by other women placing a much higher burden on senior women versus senior men.   And it limits the sponsorship and mentoring they are able to provide.

A recent McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report finds: “Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge. If women—who account for half the world’s working-age population—do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer.  Closing the global gender gap could deliver $12 trillion to $28 trillion of additional GDP in 2015.”

At every stage of the talent pipeline women are underrepresented.  Companies must find ways to address this important issue. Mentoring, combined with other strategies, can make a big difference at every stage of that pipeline.

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How can mentoring help with this issue

One company we work with has a program that allows women in the company with high potential to get on a leadership track overseen by high-level mentors.  Committing to women at all stages in their careers will have a much greater impact than only at the senior most levels.

In a recent survey conducted by Skillsoft it was noted that, “most respondents do not have access to any formal development programs. This presents a huge area for improvement across organizations.”

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Mentorships can and should be used throughout the career of each high potential woman to provide needed guidance and support. 

Many of the same key business objectives supported and measured by implementing mentoring across your organization, are even more applicable for advancing the careers of women:

  • Improve leadership bench strength and managerial capability utilizing those women who are most qualified and/or hi potential to fill leadership gaps
  • Retain knowledge and transfer it to others in the organization, especially women who are willing to mentor hi potential women
  • Diversify the culture by supporting under-represented groups
  • Accelerate time-to-proficiency for new hires including women who will be eager to stay because of the commitment shown to their career development
  • Retain talented women by showing a commitment to women’s career development

For more information about how mentoring is being used as a way for organizations to address diversity and women’s leadership roles, please visit our website,

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