Mentoring gets a reboot as more women professionals break into top leadership

Mentoring gets a reboot as more women professionals break into top leadership

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by Jenn Labin

February 19, 2020

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This year, 700 people will participate in the Bacardi Women in Leadership Initiative mentor program. Chio Zubiria, a senior director at Bacardi North America, said the need for the program was clear after an internal review found qualified women weren’t even applying for leadership positions. Zubiria and other female executives lobbied company leadership for a structured program, and it launched in 2013.

“We saw a need to really work on the development side,” Zubiria said.

Today, a technology platform matches employees companywide who have complementing personalities and goals. Participating mentors are half male and half female, and relationships span departments and, in some cases, the world.

Jenn Labin, chief talent and diversity officer at MentorcliQ, a mentoring software firm that counts Bacardi among its clients, said technology, from software to social media, is helping tear down the barriers that prevent women from accessing mentors.

“Mentors aren’t limited to the people who sit around them or the people they happen to see out at happy hour, which has been the problem historically for women,” Labin said.

Addressing #MeToo

Still, challenges remain. Nearly 60% of male managers say they are uncomfortable mentoring women in the #MeToo era, according to a June 2019 survey by Meanwhile, female leaders, especially women of color, are flooded with mentoring requests and risk burnout.

Women can counter #MeToo hesitancy by suggesting to meet men in public places and being transparent about their goals, but the bottom line is men need to do better, Johnson said. “This is a man problem,” he said.

Some firms are doubling down on mentoring in response. Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas prioritized a mentor program for women in leadership in June 2018 following a #MeToo scandal that embroiled its former CEO and other top executives.

Chris Flatt, one of the female executives who helped steer the initiative, said the program allows men and women to talk about career goals as well as what makes a workplace safe and healthy. Thirty-two women have been mentored so far, and five of the 13 in the first cohort have gone on to receive promotions.

“You can’t not do it. You have to bring people together,” Flatt said.

Labin, with MentorcliQ, urges women to speak up. Know your goals and ask helpful people to be in your corner, she said.

“Put yourself out there,” Labin said. “It’s career-changing.”