The largest cross-company mentoring scheme in the UK invited organisations and individuals to a special launch event last week.
The hugely successful 30% Club cross-company mentoring scheme, managed by specialist diversity mentoring experts at Women Ahead, is about to launch its fifth year. The scheme, which matches male and female senior leaders with high potential female mentees from different organisations, has grown from eight participating organisations four years ago, to more than 60 this year and 1,250 mentors and mentees.
The scheme aims to enable women and ensure that talent is not lost from organisations at pivot points in their careers. It helps firms create more inclusive, diverse and innovative teams, improves employee engagement and increases retention. By engaging with male mentors, the scheme also creates better awareness and engagement from male leaders.
It was wonderful to hear some excellent feedback on the scheme, including:-
“Mentees have tremendous determination and the ability to change the world. Sometimes they just don’t realise this and so mentors help them to realise that potential.”
Avril Martindale, Partner, Freshfields
"Everybody talks about culture, but we didn’t really know what that meant for us. When we looked more closely at our culture, we realised it was very much built around how we do things whereas we needed it to be more about why we do things. So we have spent time looking at our purpose and really understanding why we exist and the reasons for doing what we do."
Tracy Blackwell, CEO, Pension Insurance Corporation
“We noticed that at a certain level there was a significant drop in the number of women staying in our organisation. Mentoring has given an opportunity to help our women see where the possibilities for development exist and what they could achieve if they stayed.”
Simone Vroegop, Head of Consultant Relations EMEA, State Street
“In the mentoring process, the knowledge, learning and insight I am gathering is so incredibly powerful. Understanding how my mentees juggle their lives is humbling.”
Dominic Broom, Global Head of Trade Business Development, BNY Mellon
“My goal was to look at building new processes within our organisation. My mentor clearly had the answers to my issues, but he never just gave them to me. He made me think about how I could find my own solutions using what I already know.”
Tara Burns, Divisional Director, Man Bites Dog
Liz Dimmock, 30% Club Steering Committee member and founder and CEO of Women Ahead said: “Women Ahead believes that whatever your career, you will always benefit greatly from meeting people who have different perspectives and new ways of tackling challenges.
“Companies that use mentoring to develop their female talent see improved engagement levels, higher retention, and increased diversity and inclusion. Having diverse senior leadership teams is consistently proven to improve company innovation and profitability. It’s not a gender issue – it’s a business issue.”
The 30% Club is a group of chairs and CEOs committed to better gender balance through voluntary action.
30% Club Chair, Brenda Trenowden says: “Each participating organisation defines the pivot point at which it sees a divergence between the career paths of its men and women, and invites key women in this ‘danger zone’ into the mentoring scheme. We have had significant pick-up on the initiative – growing from eight organisations taking part when we first launched, to the 60+ organisations we see participating this year. It shows that companies are increasingly recognising the benefits of retaining their female talent through the mid-level career point, and it supports women in pushing through this ‘danger zone’ of mid-career level so that they can reach senior executive and board positions.
“There is an obvious business argument for having a diverse board and executive team, with complementary skills and less danger of ‘groupthink’. The mentoring scheme works with participating organisations to realise this potential and I really look forward to meeting this year’s participants.”
The event, held at the Pension Insurance Corporation in London on Tuesday 23 May, heard from a panel including Liz Dimmock, 30% Club Steering Committee member and Founder & CEO, Women Ahead; Rebecca Davies, Managing Partner, Women Ahead; Monica Relph, Senior Programme and Client Manager, Women Ahead; Avril Martindale, Partner, Freshfields and 30% Club; Tracy Blackwell, CEO, Pension Insurance Corporation; Mentors and mentees: Dominic Broom, Global Head of Trade Business Development, BNY Mellon; Richard Cooper, Operational Transaction Services, Partner, EY; Isobel Felzines, Head of Risk, Deutsche Leasing UK; Tara Burns, Divisional Director, Man Bites Dog and Programme Partners: Simone Vroegop, Head of Consultant Relations EMEA, State Street; Claire England, Inclusivity Manager, Berwin Leighton Paisner and Lorraine Stone, Talent and Succession Manager, Santander.