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Mentorship: The Power of Paying it Forward

Taylor & her Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) peers recently completed a mentorship pilot program. Here she reflects on the challenges to grow that program and how mentees can play a critical role in the path forward.

Taylor Frey
Taylor Frey

The intrinsic value of mentorship is a given for today’s employers and employees. Research proves time and time again that organizational investment in mentorship provides long-term value to the business and its employees. In today’s workplace, 60% of people seek career mentorship and coaching (Ten Thousand Coffees) but are rarely given the tools and opportunities to find a mentor. Not shocking, since creating a formalized mentorship program is hard!

The Women’s Leadership Network (WLN) mentorship pilot program launched in August 2020 in select cities throughout North America. Our current program is aimed at employees in career stages of Managers and above, with the goal of retaining, advancing, and supporting our women leaders. Seeing great success in the pilot, we expanded this program to all women leaders in North America in August 2021.

“Being around creative, ambitious, and focused individuals all around the same career level is, in my opinion, one of the greatest strengths of an early careers program because it inspires so much personal growth.”

One of the biggest challenges the WLN mentorship pilot program faces is finding enough qualified mentors to pair with the vast number of interested mentees. Junior and mid-level employees are often seeking mentorship from their senior leaders, but in reality, there are not enough to go around.

So what do we do? We can only expand our mentorship program to more people if existing mentees take the initiative to pay it forward by gradually transitioning into a mentorship role. Think of it as a growing family tree. With each expansion, the program will need the promoted mentees to become the new mentors. For the WLN, our pilot mentorship program is beginning to see the results – and the rewards – of paying it forward to expand each mentorship family. Below is our growing mentorship family tree from the pilot program as an example of how one generation of mentors can grow another:

As you can see, Kirsten Lamphere and Linde Korhumel, originally mentees, are now also mentors to a new generation of mentees.

Ultimately, mentorship programs can only be impactful if the children (mentees) grow up to be parents (mentors). Otherwise, mentors will persist in short supply, and the longevity of the program – and the power of mentorship – will fizzle. Instilling the power of paying it forward is critical to the success of any enduring and effective mentorship program.

Taylor Frey
Taylor Frey
Manager, Data Science and Analytics
Taylor is a manager on the data science & analytics team and one of the WLN Toronto leads. She has been part of the WLN team for years and has always had a passion for inspiring more women to pursue a career in technology.

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