Mentoring, Organizational Rank, and Women's Perceptions of Advancement Opportunities in the Workplace

By Washington, Christa Ellen | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

Mentoring, Organizational Rank, and Women's Perceptions of Advancement Opportunities in the Workplace


Washington, Christa Ellen, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

Over the last few years, a large body of research has been dedicated to the study of mentoring. Literature on mentoring across several different professions suggests that mentoring provides benefits to the mentor, the protege, and the organization (Kram 26). Mentoring can take on several different forms, whether formal or informal, as well as the relationship being between supervisor to subordinate, subordinate to superior, or peer to peer (Young and Wright 204). Mentoring is also used by organizations to develop employees professionally as well as to develop more loyal employees (Eisenberger, et al. 48). Further, mentoring has been a great success for many organizations that have mentoring programs. Research conducted by Kram, Higgins and Chao supports mentoring as being powerful resource that offers proteges both professional and personal development (270). As a result, developing mentoring relationships has become a common practice among organizations. The number of mentoring relationships in organizations over the past few years have been high in numbers; however, not all individuals have experienced being mentored (Broadbridge 344). Some of those individuals who lack mentoring opportunities are women and less skilled workers, among others. Since mentoring is known to promote career development, it is often used as a career management tool (Allen, et al. 135; Phillip and Hendry, 215).

Mentoring also offers organizations insight on their employees from other perspectives other than an employee, their work skills, and their duties on the job. Mentoring helps organizations see their employees more personally and obtain knowledge of their personal needs as well as their work needs. For example, mentoring allows organizations to see their employees from a holistic approach. When organizations meet employees' needs and address employees concerns, the result is a loyal and productive worker (Jayne 25). In addition, mentoring offers some overall benefits to organizations. When companies implement mentoring programs that are designed to meet employees at all levels and when employees take full advantage of being mentored the growth of a company often skyrockets (Domeyer 20). When companies are seeking to fill vacancies in management positions the recruitment process can often be conducted in-house due to mentoring programs--developing interpersonal skills and leadership abilities of current employees (Domeyer 20). Another benefit of mentoring for organizations is that mentoring promotes a company's best practices, policies and procedures, as well as the overall cultural of a company. As a result of mentoring, new employees are better able to adapt to the culture of the organization as well as be successful. A third benefit to organizations is that mentoring promotes information sharing. For example, employees possessing special talents or skills help train other staff members in order to retain those skill sets within the company. The Domeyer study also revealed that employees committed to mentoring other employees increases worker productivity and helps to promote the organizations goals and objectives (20).

Due to the benefits of mentoring, many companies offer employees the experience to learn from another individual through formal mentoring programs. In contrast, there are individuals who prefer to find their own mentor to guide them in their career development process. This type of relationship is known as an informal mentoring. Sometimes these individuals may have more success than those who have been assigned to a mentor. The research supports that informal mentoring offers more overall benefits than formal mentoring (Noe, 465; Ragins and Cotton 533).

However, women often have difficulty in identifying and finding persons to commit to being their mentor (Ragins and Cotton 542). Not only do women have problems finding a mentor, but it is also difficult for them to find a mentor who can help them develop their skill sets, reach their goals, and provide them important feedback in order to help them advance in the workplace (Gambhir and Washington 3). …

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