Despite all the progress towards equality over recent decades, women still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.
The figure itself has been disputed, but nobody disputes that pay inequality is real. The question is what to do about it. And some believe that the answer is mentoring.
How Mentoring Can Help
There are many reasons why women earn less than men, of course. Mentoring can’t tackle all of them, but it can help individual women to increase their pay in several different ways.
Caroline Ghosn, founder of Levo League, told Fox Business that mentors can help women to develop their skills, and also to develop the confidence to request the pay they deserve. She cited Warren Buffett, who is one of the Levo mentors, teaching her to stop looking at the “distorted version of yourself, the version of yourself that downplays your accomplishments or doesn’t give you the confidence to negotiate for what you deserve at work.”
Levo is focused on providing mentors and other support for women in the first ten years, and has a special initative, “Ask4More”, aimed at helping young women get what they deserve.
Apart from empowering women to ask for more, mentoring can also help by accelerating women’s careers. As we saw in a previous post, there’s a huge volume of academic research showing that people who are mentored enjoy greater career success, with higher salaries and more promotions. So mentoring is an important tool available to help women close that pay gap.
Levo League is not the only organization aimed at helping women find mentors. There are plenty of initiatives out there, often aimed at specific sectors.
We’ve already talked on this blog about the “Million Women Mentors” program, for example, which aims to recruit a million mentors to help women achieve equality in so-called STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math).
A similar program exists in the media industry, the Women in Media Mentoring Initiative. The Cherie Blair Foundation’s Women in Business Mentoring Initiative offers mentoring to women entrepreneurs in the developing world. And organizations like Women of Tomorrow and Sisters of Hope offer mentoring to young women and girls.
And of course there are companies like Everwise, which help both men and women connect with the best possible mentors.
What Companies Can Do
Some companies are taking the initiative in setting up their own programs focused on helping women through mentoring.
Financial firm Legg Mason, for example, has a Women’s Leadership Network, offering mentoring, training and networking opportunities to its female employees. Former chair Stephanie Beran spoke to a range of colleagues from the program and found: “The biggest commonality was an appreciation for strong women, as mentors and colleagues.”
Goldman Sachs has taken a broader view, moving beyond the company walls and sponsoring the 10,000 Women Initiative. The idea is to provide mentoring and business education to female entrepreneurs around the world. The mentor pool is formed of Goldman Sachs employees, as well as staff from partner organizations and local businesses.
According to the company, graduates of the program “report immediate and sustained business growth. Thirty months after completing the program, 82% of surveyed graduates have increased their revenue.” And nine out of ten participants pay it forward by mentoring and teaching business skills to other women.
This example shows the direct impact that mentoring can have on improving women’s earnings. As Goldman Sachs concludes: “Investing in women is one of the most effective ways to reduce inequality.”