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Women-to-women mentoring – the future of business networks?

Frew Murdoch

Mentoring is not a new concept - we've all heard of the Old Boy's club but what about an Old Girl's club? We're almost halfway into Women's month and it's time for women at work to take a proactive stance at climbing the ladder of success. One way of doing this is to encourage women–to-women mentoring, says Dalene Sechele, head of human resources at Mercantile Bank. Sechele believes that women-to-women mentoring is important as female mentors have a better understanding of the difficulties women face in the workplace. What are the benefits of women-to-women mentoring?

Women-to-women networking is the future of business networks

"I'm excited about one day looking back and seeing women rising in the business ranks. It would be amazing to see the creation of an all-girls network and an effective tool to drive this is through mentoring. It's how men got up there; women need to sponsor each other and drive this growth," said Sechele.

How does women-to-women mentoring work as a system?

Women-to-women mentoring is divided into two schools: formal and informal mentoring:

1. Informal mentoring

Informal mentoring doesn't have a set structure. Mentees touch base with their mentors when they feel it is necessary.

2. Formal mentoring

Formal mentoring has a set structure. The mentor and mentee touch base on a regular basis and usually at agreed times of the week. The mentee prepares for each mentoring session and the mentor may set certain goals or outcomes for each session. The mentor communicates a clear aim for the mentoring sessions so the mentor and mentee come to a mutual understanding on the outcomes of their relationship. This type of mentoring takes time and commitment.

Formalise women-to-women mentoring to get the best result

Sechele gives the following piece of advice to organisations wanting to implement a women-to-women mentoring scheme:

"Formalise it [women-to-women mentoring], don't leave it up to chance. Mentors and mentees need to commit to the process and be able to measure the success of the programme. Both parties need to establish goals as to what they want out of the mentoring relationship and what they are willing to put into it."

In addition, make sure there is chemistry between the mentors and their mentees. If there is no chemistry between the mentor and mentee, they will not have an open and trusting relationship. Mentees want to get guidance from a wiser person in a position you would like to be in.

"It's not only what you know but also who you know that leads to success," concluded Sechele.

Dalene Sechele will be speaking at the GIBS IPM Women in Business 2014 – Leading The Future on 19 August. For more information, follow this link.

Eds note: We've published other opinions from the speakers at the conference. Click here to read these articles.

*These suggestions and insights don't apply to all women but are reflections on the average woman out there.

Frew Murdoch is the assistant editor of HR Pulse. She has a BA degree in communications and English and a passion for HR technology.

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