This Overlooked Department May Be Holding the Mentoring Keys

There’s an organisational department that can lead the way in mentoring, and it’s not what you might think…

No, it’s not HR, it’s IT and Engineering.

That’s because CTOs and CIOs specifically embody all the qualities someone needs to advocate or lead a mentoring program. What’s more, they’re good at inspiring other departments to get on board with new initiatives and adopt innovative ways of thinking.

Just think about it. According to Harvard Business Review (HBR):

Chief “Innovation” Officers identify disruptive technologies for pilot projects. Investing 5% to 10% of the overall budget, this CIO persona must drive innovation on a shoestring. Typically from business backgrounds, these leaders move fast, fail fast, and move on. They tend to focus on the business side and external activities.

This means that influential players like CTOs and CIOs are all about implementing new and innovative technologies for employers and employees alike. They value innovation, ROI and efficacy—all of which a mentoring program can provide. So why not have them spearhead your new program?

Encouraging IT to lead the way

There’s another reason IT should be the champion of your company’s mentoring program. Although they’re change agents, IT departments have a problem.

More broadly, STEM has a problem: Not enough women. Well, not enough diversity, period. And from an intersectional viewpoint, it’s dismal.

So why not challenge IT to tackle their diversity problem while using their influence and specific skill set to get your organisation on board with a new mentoring program?

According to InHerSight, a platform for women to anonymously rate past or present employers in any industry, having a mentorship program in place at your company may actually attract more women.

That’s because “high-quality mentorship programs for female professionals are in high demand and short supply”.

In fact, out of all 14 criteria they have their users rate, “mentorship and sponsorship programs” was the lowest-rated factor on the platform with 2.2 out of five stars.

What’s more, once women are employed at your organisation, a mentorship program will likely help retain them. That’s because “a company’s mentorship program is highly correlated with women’s overall satisfaction and happiness at her company…If your female employees are unhappy with your mentorship program [or if you don’t have one], they’re more likely to be dissatisfied at work overall.”

And it’s not only white women that these programs attract and retain.

HBR found that mentoring programs in the US can “make companies’ managerial echelons significantly more diverse. On average, they boost the representation of black, Hispanic, and Asian-American women, and Hispanic and Asian-American men, by 9% to 24%.” This could be because “while white men tend to find mentors on their own, women and minorities more often need help from formal programs”. We’ve seen this consistent with our programs worldwide.

Where to start

If getting a mentoring program off the ground seems like too big an undertaking for your IT or Engineering department, start small. Your program doesn’t have to be company-wide at first, but can start in a selection of departments, be tweaked to see what does and doesn’t work, and then implemented further until it’s eventually company-wide. 

This approach might not only be good for your IT or Engineering department, but for the health of the program itself. As InHerSight notes:

A good mentorship program requires thoughtful planning and a sustained commitment. If you’re not willing to make mentorship a focused corporate effort, the data suggests that the better approach may be to scale your program back to a level your company can support. Many big mentorship efforts fail because they’re too large to actually deliver the benefits they’re designed to…The risks of a shoddy offering may be worse than no offering at all.

Are you ready to start building a culture of mentoring at your organisation? Mentorloop can help. See how our platform works here.

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Em is our Marketing Manager at Mentorloop. That's a lot of 'm's! | She is passionate about crafting messages, crafternoons and craft beer.

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