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Mentors not to be underestimated

04 November 2013

mentor positive

The Westpac Women of Influence Report, released recently to coincide with Westpac and the AFR’s 100 Women of Influence, has found that professional women are experiencing the value career influencers, whether role models, mentors or sponsors, have upon their professional lives.

Sixty per cent, that’s nearly three in five of the women surveyed, have confirmed they have at least one of these career influencers, and more than half (58%) have stated that person has a strong impact on their career.

The national report found that mentors are the main type of professional guide with nine in 10 participants confirming they regularly look to their mentor for advice (94%); support (93%); help with problems (92%); help to realise their potential (91%); and to act as a sounding board for their ideas (91%).

Like any positive relationship the mentor/mentee relationship is an insightful and rewarding one for both people.

Westpac’s Director of Women’s Markets, Larke Riemer knows from personal experience that “mentors want to impart their knowledge and experiences, while mentees often provide an alternate point of view or fresh perspective.”

It’s important, she believes, to have strong connections and mutual respect.

“Mentors need to understand the goals, aspirations and strengths of the woman they are advising; and the mentee needs to have an opportunity to explore the career history of their mentor in order to get a sense of the challenges they’ve overcome, personality traits and professional values and how those experiences can help them build confidence and resilience. Mutual respect is important so each person can fulfil their role as the partnership evolves.”

When it comes to the key characteristics Australia’s professional women are looking for in their supporters, the most important traits, according to the report, are to be honest and trustworthy (36%) and a good communicator (32%). Also important is the need to be respectful of others (22%), followed closely by someone who can effectively balance work, family and community (20%).

Jessica Brown formed the Life Changing Experiences Foundation (LCEF) in 2003. She knows the value of mentors and has seen it change the lives of the vulnerable teenage girls who have benefited from her SISTER2sister mentor program.

LCEF runs SISTER2sister a 12-month mentoring and risk management program for vulnerable teenage girls who have been subjected to abuse and neglect. The program matches the young women with successful business women from the community and together both the Little Sisters and Big Sisters attend an intensive risk management program.

“The results of the program are literally life changing,” says Jessica, “and 95% of mentors continue their support beyond the 12-month program forging life long bonds.”

LCEF receives calls daily from young women in need across Australia and Jessica has waiting lists of women wishing to be mentors in every state. The program has a team of dedicated ambassadors, many of who have featured on Ruby and are Ruby members, including journalist and commentator Tracey Spicer, Olympian Kerri Pottharst and author and writer Dr Cindy Pan.

On December 6 a national campaign called Step up for SISTERHOOD, sponsored by NIVEA, kicks off. It’s a day where women throughout Australia are being asked to swap their normal work shoes for their most statement shoes and “make a stand to stamp out abuse and neglect”.


For more, click on Step up for SISTERHOOD.