How does a mentorship program help to foster an inclusive environment?
With the industry poised for change, success depends on making sure these fields retain industry leaders while attracting the next-generation of professionals. To do this, it’s important to foster an inclusive environment.
One way to do this is to create some sort of mentorship program within your company or networking group outside of your company.
One of the topics that we discussed during our Women in Construction: Recruiting, Retaining, and Mentoring for Success PowerTalk at ELEVATE is how beneficial it can be to have someone to go to for questions and advice that isn’t in your chain of command.
Always remember that the goal of the program is to be constructive, not to bash anyone, and most definitely not to bash men altogether. Remember – the goal is to foster healthy and productive work environments for both women and men.
Another important thing to remember is that a mentorship program doesn't necessarily have to be female-to-female. In fact, many successful women in the industry have had mentors who are male.
It’s an opportunity to network and ask someone who isn’t in your chain of command for advice or to ask them questions that you aren’t comfortable asking your boss. Mentoring doesn’t require a special certificate. Simply observing someone who is experienced in his/her role can offer a young mentee valuable knowledge.
Give participants the opportunity to find someone that they can connect with so that their network grows and they have mentors from all facets of the organization or the industry as a whole (depending on the scale of the program).
One organization in Southern California, Women in Construction Operations (WiOPS) has a robust mentoring and networking program. WiOPS aims to help keep women in the operations side of the business by supporting them with career advice, mentors, and idea sharing. Membership is open to all men and women in construction operations who are interested in being a mentor or mentee. This gives participants a wonderful opportunity to network with individuals from many companies that serve in many capacities.
If your organization is interested in implementing a smaller scale, company-wide program, always keep in mind that it’s important to tailor the program based on company goals. What works for one organization might not work for another, and it’s not enough to implement a program for the sake of implementing one. The program needs to be something that truly delivers value to those involved.
Inc. magazine breaks down developing a successful mentorship program into a few key steps: creating a structure, pairing (and re-pairing if necessary), training and, ultimately, evaluating success by establishing and tracking a concrete goal.