Since the company’s inception in 2021, Mentor Her has been a worldwide platform connecting female Mentors and Mentees in entrepreneurship and corporate careers on their six-week and six-month programs.
Their USP, since day one, has been that their worldwide platform is for women only. But as questions are waged around gender pay gaps, leadership representation and inclusion- is excluding men doing more harm than good?
Mentor Her was formed in the middle of the pandemic, when women were starting businesses, pivoting career roles, and feeling the strain of the work/life balance more than ever. On the success of their six-week program, they have matched over 3,000 women across multiple industries, generations, and professions.
With their 98% effective rate across matches, the company’s work has resulted in hundreds of businesses started and careers accelerated as a result of Mentee’s hand-picked Mentor match. The online programs run worldwide and have matched Mentors and Mentees in Australia to Vancouver, Delhi to Gaborone, Dubin to Barcelona.
On their programs, Mentees and Mentors receive weekly material, inspiring workshops, and networking calls, in-person events and full support from the Mentor Her team. Over one hundred applications have been received by men through the company to date, which were politely declined- and, since there has never been a shortage of altruistic female executives and entrepreneurs to take part, it was easily managed.
But with a looming recession, a stalemate on gender leadership percentages narrowing and the world of DEI beginning to change shape, Mentor Her thought they should throw caution to the wind and pose the question to the community both inside and outside the company. The vote is taking place on Mentor Her’s website and is open for people of any gender, membership or opinion to take part.
The arguments for letting the men into Mentor Her are simple. Men want to help women succeed, to develop their businesses to new heights, to develop the skills needed to move into leadership level, to be the sponsor and mentor of women around the world so that they can succeed.
If Mentor Her is excluding people based on gender, doesn’t this result in its own discrimination of a kind? Oftentimes the women who mentor with the company have reflected that it has been the men in their lives who mentored them the most.
If a company is limited to only half the population, doesn’t that result in half the opportunities, half the connections, half the results? But, in a small focus group with past Mentees and Mentors, there is some upset.
The company has prided itself on being a safe space for women to talk about their issues in the workplace and in business, that often end up being gender specific. On networking calls for all program participants issues like endometriosis, infertility, motherhood and even harassment have been brought up in a place where it is safe to do so.
Mentees feel more secure on sign up knowing that their Mentor will be a woman- especially for those who have faced discrimination or harassment in the past. The idea of women supporting women is what the company was founded on - from their mission to their social media posts - but maybe all that is about to change?
The thing is that, as 2023 reports are published, the situation for female representation has not changed dramatically since the pandemic. The recent Women in the Workplace 2023 report by McKinsey shows that there are only three to four percentage point changes in representation at manager and director level for women since 2018.
And the “Great Breakup” follows The Great Resignation as director-level women, next in line for senior-leadership, are leaving at a higher rate than previous years and at a notably higher rate then men at the same level- leaving fewer women in line for top positions. This report is not alone in recent weeks, Google’s global leadership representation of women is only 32.2% in 2023.
BoardEx calculates that only 8.2% of CEO positions in the S&P500 are held by women. LinkedIn’s global leadership representation has only grown by 0.9% since last year. These figures are worse for female entrepreneurs, with less than 10% of VC funding going to companies with female founders, and with a looming recession, this situation will only continue to worsen.
Katie Doyle, founder of Mentor Her, says: “This question has plagued us for so long, but there’s no use in us just discussing it with the team.
“We’ve seen the figures these past few weeks, we know that women are struggling both at work and at home. Our company’s mission has been about women-supporting-women but we think that with everything going on and yet to come- women are going to need all the help they can get to stay in the workforce, in developing their businesses and managing that elusive work/life balance.
“Could things be changed, or at least slowed, by more individualised mentorship, more connection, and more support? It’s everybody’s job, and for everybody’s benefit, that women stay in the workplace, move to senior leadership positions, and grow successful businesses. Men included.”
You can find out at the start of the new year from the community both inside and outside the company as Mentor Her encourages anybody that has an opinion to vote on their website.