Celebrating 10 years of the 30% Club mentoring programme

Mentoring anniversary event at LSEG

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of META and author of LEAN In, Sir Trevor Phillips and Lord Bilimoria were just some of the business leaders appearing at a landmark event last Wednesday to mark the tenth anniversary of the world’s biggest cross-company mentoring programme.

The business community gathered at LSEG (the London Stock Exchange) for a market close ceremony to celebrate and discuss the impact of the 30% Club mentoring programme, launched in 2012 to reinforce and widen the female talent pipeline as part of the campaign’s initial aim to increase diversity on the boards of Britain’s top companies.

Delivered by Moving Ahead, the 30% Club cross-company mentoring programme has had 680 companies take part, across 30 sectors and 50 countries. (The scheme began in 2012 with eight companies led by EY in London).

Moving Ahead’s data reveals…

*Mentees were 47% more likely to be promoted than non-mentee peers in the three years after the programme

*70% of mentees said they felt more confident and empowered by the programme

*The same proportion said there were “inspired to create change in their careers or organisations”

*Half the mentees agreed with the statement: “My career has been affected by far less organisational bias and impenetrable networks since I found a mentor”

*Across programmes, retention is relatively high within companies. Turnover per year, per cohort sits at 10%

*Over ten years of the programme there have been no incidents reported regards poaching.

Of course, there remains much work for the 30% Club to do – we need more female board chair and committee chairs and far more female executives. Women of colour remain significantly under-represented at every level.

30% Club at the Stock Exchangee
Global chair Ann Cairns

“Parity for men and women on boards is now a realistic prospect in the UK over the next couple of years,” explains current 30% Club global chair Ann Cairns, who is also the executive vice chair of Mastercard, “but we are not there yet.

“While women now hold more board seats, it is in NEDs that we have seen the greatest expansion; women are still lagging behind when it comes to the big executive roles within companies. There are still only 10 female FTSE CEOs in the UK and at executive committee level there are just 25% women. And when it comes to race, class, disability and wider diversity the numbers are far worse. That’s why we’re not changing our name to 50% Club anytime soon.”

In 2019, Cairns introduced race and ethnicity targets for the campaign and in the same year the mentoring scheme expanded to embrace diversity more widely. Alongside the flagship Mission Gender Equity programme, Mission INCLUDE now welcomes individuals from all under-represented groups as mentees. 

Moving founder and CEO Liz Dimmock said: “Moving Ahead is proud to deliver the 30% Club’s mentoring programme – which is now the biggest cross-company scheme in the world.

“Its proven impact in leading to promotion is a vital part of the 30% Club’s ongoing mission to get more women into executive leadership positions as well as board roles.

“I am especially pleased that the 30% Club mentoring programme has evolved to include the Mission Include strand, which welcomes mentees from all under-represented groups.

“Mentoring provides enormous value not only to the mentees but also the mentors and their organisations, who tell us their experience on the programme has enriched their own careers and corporate culture to be more inclusive. They understand that business is better when all talent is able to thrive.”

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Meta and author of working-woman bible Lean In who addressed the Stock Exchange event on Wednesday, said: “The broken rung on the ladder is that men get promoted on potential whereas women are judged on experience so far.

“That has to change at all levels and mentoring and sponsorship is a powerful way to fix that.

“We all also need to pay careful attention to the experiences of women of colour who experience far more micro-aggressions and setbacks at all levels. This has to be a broad conversation.”

Sheryl Sandberg