Earlier this month, 30% Club UK was pleased to announce the launch of its fourth cross-company mentoring scheme, in collaboration with Women Ahead. Held at the impressive Westminster Central Hall, it was a hugely successful evening with key notes speeches from 30% Club founder Helena Morrissey, 30% Club Global Chair Brenda Trenowden, founder of Women Ahead, Liz Dimmock, and Maggie Alphonsi, the UK’s most successful female rugby player and seven-time winner of the Six Nations.
The mentoring scheme is designed to develop the pipeline and parity of women in FTSE-350 leadership roles by matching senior leaders (male and female) with female mentees from other organisations.
The scheme has seen fantastic pick-up from corporates and professional services firms since its inception – going from eight firms and 70 participants in 2012, to a phenomenal 62 firms and 1250 participants in 2016, including the likes of Cisco, Mastercard, EY, Slaughter and May, Marks & Spencer, BNY Mellon and Santander.
Such large numbers are testament to the appetite for employees to receive high quality mentoring, and for firms to give it. This is not a women’s issue, it is a business issue: mentoring encourages an individual to be more confident, face more challenges and achieve more success. Companies, understandably, want to have a successful workforce, and so they choose to invest time and money into their employees.
Hearing from both mentors and mentees at the event was a strong reminder of the mutual benefits of the roles. As Edward Braham, Senior Partner at Freshfields, himself a mentor, commented, mentors will often learn “fresh ideas and fresh confidence” from their mentees, while the mentee can draw on the years of experience that their mentor has to offer. Both parties gain a different perspective from interacting with one another, particularly thanks to the cross-company nature of the scheme which pairs individuals from different sectors.
There were lessons to be learnt from a panel discussion given at the event as well. Rebecca Davies, Scheme Manager at Women Ahead, advised both sides of the partnership that “openness to growth is integral to participation”. Deepak Kumar, Vice President HR at Tetra Pak Packaging Solutions, encouraged all attendees to “be honest, be forthright, and be prepared”.
Such advice is apt and was eagerly received by all of our attendees. Liz Dimmock at Women Ahead advised on her top tips for success: from investing time in the scheme to really making sure you listen to your mentor/mentee; from working with a growth mind set and being curious, to being honest and being yourself. We also heard from those who had been mentored, such as Alex Foster, Head of Insurance & Finance Sector & Post Trade Services at BT, who said the experience of having a mentor made her feel “challenged, even in the first session… I felt excited, alive and very fortunate.”
This year’s 30% Club mentoring scheme aims to be an essential and life-changing step for those involved and we welcome all of our new joiners and wish them well on their journey over the next few months. It is encouraging to see how many firms have embraced the scheme and we hope more will get involved in the future. With fantastic growth over the past years, it looks like next year we’ll need an even bigger venue!