Voluntary mentoring is the right thing to do

The Link Mentorship Program

by Simone Lawrence

As a mentor with The Link Mentorship program I was matched up with a mentee for a 12-month partnership where we met monthly to help the mentee with the challenges and opportunities for her career. What a positive experience it was, we both received such great learning from spending time together.

My mentee encouraged me to be bolder, to put myself out there more, to share my passion for helping develop people and talk more about the topics I am knowledgeable about both offline and online. This is the value of partnering with a mentee who is much younger than me.

For my mentee she benefited from my wisdom and years of experience. I guided her to get clearer on what she wanted from her professional life, redefining what success looks like to her and mapping out a plan of how she can get there. Providing her with regular contact and meetups to continue the journey and ensure she felt fully supported throughout the year.

As a senior leader in the corporate and NGO world, I have always cared passionately about the development of my teams and have often been able to see the potential in people that they didn’t necessarily see in themselves. Having headed up L&D, HR and Business Development teams I have found myself throughout my own career being a magnet for mentoring earlier career professionals and would always be part of internal task forces focused on this.

My beliefs that have led me here have been further shaped through my work as an executive coach where I develop current and future leaders with a specialty in accelerating female talent.

As the mother of two young daughters I hope that they and their peers will benefit when they graduate or enter the workforce from experienced men and women who want to help them in their journey. This is as much about developing the current generation as it as about developing future ones.

All of this sparked my thinking. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for every early career women to have access to a no-cost career development partner and for more experienced women and men to be able to give back some of their time, knowledge and listening ears in service of learning from each other?

Fast forward to now and together with Melissa Schlimm we are spearheading The Link Mentorship Program because we believe in providing access for female career professionals to the support they need to grow in their careers at no cost.

It is something we do because we believe it is the right thing to do. We believe that gender diversity matters and that leveraging female strengths can accelerate aspirational women in the workplace, and we should all contribute to that.

What’s important to us is that all women are provided with the opportunity to access no cost development. To progress in their careers and feel part of a mentoring community that is committed to making a difference for women in the workplace, that men can also contribute to.

Why support only early career women? Simply because they need more help. Now more than ever there are more female graduates than males and yet women drop out of the workforce somewhere along their way and we lose the opportunity to retain and develop that talent at senior levels. What could have been possible if they had more scaffolding at an earlier stage and felt more supported and less alone in their journey? If they were able to work on their self-awareness, develop more assertive behaviors and feel more supported in their career journey from an early stage it could help them understand more about the choices they have and how they can be their best selves during all the various seasons that their careers will go through. Voluntary mentorship is a must to provide the access that women need to feel supported in their career growth.

As Madeleine Albright famously said, “There is a special place in hell for women that do not support other women.” Let’s take that a step further and say… “There is a special place in everybody’s heart for women and men who proactively support the development of women!” Visit The Link to sign up for cohort 7 commencing in September 2019 to accelerate a stronger female workforce for tomorrow today!

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