Many organisations are genuinely trying to improve diversity, including promoting more women into leadership positions and improving the strength of female engagement within the workplace. Organisations which succeed in achieving these goals are much more likely to be successful in the long run, benefiting from the different skills and perspectives a diverse leadership team can offer.
Traditional firms (such as engineering, manufacturing and service) often have a legacy of heavily male-dominated senior leaders and arguably male-dominated cultures. When an organisation needs to tap all the available talent, this is not a recipe for future success.
One of the best ways of enhancing the engagement of women in the workplace is through establishing an effective mentoring programme. Why is this? Women are looking not so much for guidance on how to do their job (where they are as skilled and competent as their male counterparts), but for guidance on how to navigate organisations, develop essential relationships, and overcome the restrictive structures that a previously predominately male workforce created. In the absence of a strong record of talented women rising to the top of the organisation, understanding of what it takes to be successful and how to go about building the necessary relationships is often genuinely lacking. Without women influencing company culture from the top often there is a lack of understanding about the experiences of women coming up through the business.
Mentoring programmes are particularly well suited to providing this type of guidance and support. Experienced individuals can share insights from their own journey, and encourage talented women on their career journeys. Mentoring is a two way relationship, and one of the key values of a successful mentoring program is a better understanding of the organisation from those in leadership positions. Senior management in turn can better act to remove key barriers and create an inclusive company culture - something so many organisations would stand to benefit from getting right.