Career Strategy and Business Support for Women: Relationships and Mentoring

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Recently it was again World Women's Day, which every year drew attention to the inequality between men and women. So it's not that there's not much talk about the subject. A study shows why nonetheless Company only gradually changes something.

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Here writes for you:


Vicki Holton vicki_holton Vicki Holton is Research Fellow at Ashridge Business School, UK.


Here writes for you:


Fiona Elsa Dent 92 Fiona Elsa Dent is Director of Executive Education at Ashridge Business School.


Awareness of diversity is growing

Meanwhile, also growing in Company The realization that women in management positions not only promote diversity and therefore image, but that a higher proportion of women also has a direct impact on corporate profits. Why is there comparatively little here?

The fact is, a lot has been written about equal opportunities. But, and this is the notable point, little has been published about how organizations could provide more structure and support to ensure the progress of women at the highest levels of the company.

A study now looks at the career experiences of a group of female managers and what helps them to rise and which factors hinder their careers.

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The importance of mentoring

Executives, direct supervisors and senior colleagues seem to be the key here. Many women mentioned the support they received from a boss (often a man) to give opportunities, to be encouraging, to master challenges, and to accomplish tasks.

They also mentioned that it is permissible to fail and learn from the mistakes, provided that these mistakes are then transformed into learning experiences.

Relationships and networks support working women

Noticeably often, comments such as “Working with an inspiring boss who gave me the opportunity to try new things for myself early on” were made during the investigation.

It seems that the relational element of organizational life far outweighs the provision of formal strategies and practices that support working women.

How important are supportive cultures?

While there have been some mentions of supportive organizational cultures that have promoted equality, structural conditions do not appear to be the key feature of career advancement.

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While enlightened organizations support their employees (women and men) through coaching and mentoring systems, regular performance appraisals, talent and succession processes, there still seems to be many jobs lacking organizational support.

No room for talent management

These main areas refer to missing or limited career opportunities within an organization, no coach or mentor, and lack of feedback.

Comments such as "Lack of future opportunities in the current organization", "There was no talent management in the company" and "Longer established employees in positions who have no plans to move sideways or upwards" indicate organizations that are aware of the importance of internal Career development and promotion planning are little aware.

Abandoned by the company

Many of our respondents felt abandoned by their company when they found that career paths were not obvious, sometimes blocked, and that women who wanted to develop and develop received little encouragement and opportunity.

Some mentioned that plum jobs were given to men or “favorites” rather than the best person for the job, others mentioned “shoes for dead men” and others just talked about lack of awareness of vacancies until late.

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Disadvantage for later

The absence of a coach or mentor has been cited on many occasions and it seems that people who did not have such a relationship at the beginning of their careers would later find it a disadvantage.

The fact that we have someone who can challenge, support and act as a sounding board has been seen as crucial to career advancement and development. Formal coaching and mentoring systems seem to be more common today;

Absence of a coach or mentor - Lack of advice

However, many women mentioned in the study that they had no coach or mentor early enough in their careers and therefore could not plan their careers. Another factor was the "lack of guidance in the early days" or the "numerous career obstacles in the first 10 years of her career".

This suggests that finding a coach or mentor early on in professional life can be of great benefit to women. So maybe the secret is not finding a woman-friendly employer, but a direct supervisor who will support you. Our tip therefore: Leave it to the organization, but identify your own coach, mentor or role model.

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  1. Cornelia

    Do you think a mentor could help me? Am 55 J, female, married, 2 adult children, longtime experience as a sectarian. In less than a year, I wrote 542 applications and conducted 27 application interviews. I have to apply for Hartz IV in one month.

  2. Kim

    Mentoring is such an important topic. And really great blog, I like to read.

  3. Johann

    Fantastic, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of mentoring just last week in the company Intranet and now I find this post!

  4. Gerd Gleichweit

    Helpful, good further tips. I'm looking forward to reading more.

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