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Imagine if Serena Williams hadn’t been mentored or didn’t have training drills? Would she have won 23 Grand Slams, 7 Australian Opens, 6 US Opens, 6 Wimbledon’s and be one of, if not the, best female tennis player, ever?

Imagine if Daisy Pearce, AFL Women star hadn’t turned up for training? Would she have been the AFL’s women’s inaugural No.1 draft pick in 2013, Melbourne’s inaugural captain, best and fairest winner, and arguably the first female superstar of the AFL female game?

It’s incomprehensible that these women wouldn’t go to training, be trained and mentored. So why are women not being trained and mentored in a systematic way in our organisations, given the right training and mentoring can clearly unlock greater confidence and superior performance? One of the main barriers to women advancing in the workplace is a lack of confidence.

A major factor in overcoming confidence issues is being mentored and sponsored.

What is mentorship and sponsorship? How about I talk about what it’s not. It’s not a regular half an hour or hour with your people leader to go through a laundry list of actions, decisions or tasks. That’s important for business planning. But it’s not career advancing. It is not a chit chat which commences with ‘so how are you?’ That’s important for rapport building. But it’s not training. It’s not a one-way conversation about what you should or should not be doing. I guess that’s important, to someone! But it’s not mentoring.

Mentoring is: a developmental partnership through which one person shares knowledge, skills, information, and perspective to foster the personal and professional growth of someone else. The power of mentoring is that it creates a one-of-a-kind opportunity for collaboration, goal achievement, and problem solving.

It’s clear that that many women (and men) are not receiving the benefit of being effectively mentored and trained in the workplace.

Our research has the primary purpose of informing us about the barriers to gender equality in leadership. Early qualitative research highlighted confidence as a key issue for women. Deeper discussions uncovered that lack of business acumen is a contributor to women lacking confidence. We have quantitative research underway to assess women in the workplace and the impact that targeted female leadership training (or lack thereof) has on them. The early findings are alarming! Here’s what women in the workplace have already told us:

1. 53% do not receive mentoring or coaching of any kind
2. 66% rate their people leaders coaching skills as poor or non-existent
3. 90% say not receiving coaching, mentoring or training has a moderate to material impact on their happiness and engagement at work
4. 40% are mildly to very dissatisfied with their career progression
5. 64% are mildly to very dissatisfied with their people leaders approach to their career planning

This data should alarm the organisations that are serious about advancing women.

Why? Some fundamentals which will be no surprise:

·        Mentoring and sponsorship can create a career pathway. Employers who provide support such as formal mentoring, sponsorship and career planning are more likely to increase the advancement of women and decrease the female talent drain.

·        The right training/development ends the leadership lottery for women. By actively developing and promoting inclusive leaders across your organization, you will eliminate the lottery women encounter for career progression. Middle managers determine the day to day experience of women in organisations. Gender equality awareness and training underpins inclusive leadership.

·        Female leadership development training helps build the skill sets women need: McKinsey has shown through interviewing 250 C-Suite women that some of the attributes they most relied upon were resilience, grit, and confidence. Quality, regular training and development can unlock and foster these attributes in women.

·        Being mentored can increase happiness & productivity. Happy workers are productive workers. Former Westpac CEO Gail Kelly has been quoted as saying “creating a happy workplace is crucial to building a culture where people are willing to go the extra mile for no extra pay because of team loyalty, professional commitment and personal satisfaction.” Discretionary effort from happy engaged people can up to 15% increase in productivity.

There are countless statistics about the benefits of an inclusive culture and the value that can be created for a company that has greater gender diversity. We know that the women we mentor and develop feel more confident, more accomplished, more empowered and more successful…in whatever way they define success. Which means they are the organisations they work for, are better off.

At Lighthouse, our firm intention is to support and accelerate the advancement of  women.

We have a practical way to develop and empower female leaders through our Advancing Women in Leadership Programs. These programs have been exclusively licensed by Lighthouse from Leading Women, a premier solution provider for companies committed to achieving goals for women’s advancement.

In March we welcome Susan Colantuono, program creator, to Australia. We will be holding an exclusive Advancing Women in Leadership Masterclass with Michelle Redfern, lead facilitator, and Susan on March 7 to launch these innovative programs. The masterclass is ideal for HR Directors, Heads of Diversity and Inclusion and Senior Leaders who are committed to women’s advancement in thier organisation. Places are strictly limited. Please register your interest below.


Call 1300 244 373