New UK research: Mentoring is improving gender balance in organisations

first-of-its-kind research study just out from development specialists Moving Ahead reveals the positive impact mentoring can have on gender balance at major organisations in the UK. Research into the gender impact of mentoring programmes on female mentees, their male or female mentors, and their organisations, has not been undertaken before in this country.


Turning the gender diversity dial, in collaboration with and sponsored by Deloitte, which encompassed more than 6,000 people across 40 major UK organisations, shows that mentoring is creating better gender diversity in the workplace, and enabling organisational cultures to become more inclusive and creative as a result. More than 3,000 years on from the Greek mythological origin of mentoring, it is being used to overcome present-day challenges of the gender pay gap, leadership equality, and the conscious and unconscious biases that exist around gender.


The Moving Ahead research found that structured, formal gender-based mentoring programmes are creating better gender diversity in the workplace by significantly growing women’s confidence, enabling a more inclusive culture and organisation, creating positive change beyond the programme, providing the skills and frameworks for more empathetic, accessible leaders and driving best practice for broader mentoring schemes in organisations.


The research also reveals the cost of not helping women to remain in the work to be a potential £23 billion to the Exchequer[1], with 54% of female lawyers who leave the workplace seeking a better work-life balance, and 72% of them conflicted in their ability to manage a family alongside their careers[2]. It costs an employer more than £30k on average to replace a staff member[3].  The average cost of a three-day leadership programme in the UK is £1,467 per person – five times more than an externally managed nine-month mentoring programme.


Liz Dimmock, CEO and founder of Moving Ahead, said: “Mentees are feeling a profound growth in confidence. This courage to be at your best, apply for promotions, seek feedback, lead and embrace a growth mindset is a fundamental output of good mentoring. Women can take ownership and turn the dial on their development.


“Mentoring creates better engagement, retention, inter-departmental working, advancement of male and female leaders, and drives better business performance. It can positively shape the culture of an organisation, fostering inclusion by helping individuals connect.”


Jane Booth, Head of Research at Moving Ahead said: “Mentoring improves a leader’s ability to listen deeply instead of quickly offering solutions. This space and time to listen is creating more empathetic leaders. Effective mentoring is not only turning the gender dial, it is paving the way for a more inclusive, connected and diverse workforce and society.”


Dimple Agarwal, global organisation transformation and talent leader at Deloitte, said: “When focusing on the development of our future leaders, the role of mentors cannot be underestimated. I know there have been times in my career when challenge and support from my mentors has empowered me to make bolder choices and take on more senior, stretching roles. These have enabled me to grow at pace and find great personal satisfaction and success.”


Special insights into mentoring are contained in the research report, including from business guru Dame Helena Morrissey, Founder the 30% Club; Head of Investing, Legal and General;  Kirk Vallis, Head of Creativity and Innovation, Google, and Chief Disruption and Innovation Officer, Moving Ahead; social health expert, Professor Julia Hobsbawm and the world’s most prominent male feminist Dr Michael Kimmel.


Dr Kimmel writes that men need mentors too: “Men need mentors – both male and female – because they are a new generation of male workers, whose goals and ambitions track closely those of women, and who want to balance amazing careers with equally amazing families. The payoff – for male and female mentees, and for the mentors – can be enormous.” 


Dame Helena examines the need for empathetic leaders. She writes: “Listening to the experiences, anxieties and aspirations of those we are seeking to lead helps leaders understand how to develop a vision that appeals, and develops genuine engagement.”


And Kirk Vallis explores creativity. “I like to think that creativity – be it new ideas, fresh thinking or developing more options to solve a challenge – is a bit like baking a cake. You can change the recipe, use different ingredients and new combinations, but one thing is always true: the ingredients must exist. A mentor is essentially a second pantry, full of fresh ingredients, which, when combined with your own, can unlock new and different thinking, ideas and options.”


The research found that:

87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentoring relationships and have developed greater confidence 

82% believe that mentoring relationships help foster meaningful connections between mentors and mentees, across departments and the organisation

84% reported that mentoring relationships provide two-way inspiration for mentor and mentee


Notes to Editors
Moving Ahead is a specialist development and diversity organisation. Its sister organisation, Women Ahead, is an award-winning social enterprise, founded with the belief that parity between men and women will benefit individuals, organisations and society as a whole.

We are a team of global mentoring and development experts supported by first-class programme managers, researchers and development experts. Since launch in 2014, we have worked with more than 150 organisations across sport and business, including BT, Cisco, Google, Warner Music, HSBC, Deloitte, Ricoh, PwC and Belron International, and supported more than 4,500 mentors and mentees.
Women Ahead collaborates with the 30% Club, a gender diversity campaign. We manage their cross-company mentoring scheme, which now has more than 80 participating companies and 2,000 mentors and mentees.
The research paper Turning the gender diversity dial can be found at
Organisations involved in the research include Linklaters, BT, Nomura, BDO, ANZ, EY, Pearson and the University of Cambridge.
The additional benefits of mentoring revealed by the research are that it can:-

  • Enable time to think
  • Foster meaningful connections
  • Shine a light on privilege and perspective
  • Provide two-way inspiration
  • Empower and develop confidence
  • Develop core transferable skills
  • Generate creativity and innovation
  • Make people feel valued
  • Increase retention
  • Create empathetic leadership
  • Accelerate culture change

Contact Timma Marett on or +44 7901 682219 for more information or interviews.
About Deloitte
In this press release references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”) a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.
Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NWE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK's leading professional services firms.
The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.
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[1] Business in the community (2016).  Women and Work: The Facts.  Available online at:
[2] - Wallace, J.E.  (2001) The Benefits of Mentoring for Female Lawyers.  Journal of Vocational Behaviour, Vol. 58: 366-391 (p.368)
[3] Oxford Economics (2014).  The Cost of Brain Drain: Understanding the financial impact of staff turnover