This blog is dedicated to highlighting topics related to and supportive of professional development for women.
Great Article by Mentor Larraine Segil in Leadership Excellence Essentials magazine!
Women Need Coaches
In the workplace and in school
By Larraine Segil
Giving scholarship money is a truly valuable donation. But, it’s not enough. Advancing women in business with money alone doesn’t seem to be achieving our goals to generate leaders in business. Women are still seriously misrepresented in the C-Suite and the boardroom where our incremental increase in women in leadership positions is, to put it bluntly, pathetic.
Research by Catalyst shows that only 14.6% of Executive Officer positions were held by women-the 4th consecutive year of no year- over-year growth. Women held only 8.1% of top earner slots- again no change from prior year. And, from 2004 to 2012, the percentage of female directors at Fortune 100 companies increased a mere 2.8%, rising from 16.9% to 19.7%. (Alliance for Board Diversity, “Missing Pieces: Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Boards 2” (2013))
Of course, there is no single reason for this stagnation. But the lack of coaching for women is undoubtedly a significant factor. In a LinkedIn survey of more than 1,000 female professionals in the U.S. 82% agreed that having a mentor is important — but nearly 1 out of 5 women also responded that they had never had a mentor. And, re- search done by Catalyst found that 69% of women with mentors had an upward career move in the following three years, compared to 49% of women with no mentor. Further, 37% of current women executives state that having a mentor was a critical ingredient of their personal success.
What’s alarming is that the lack of mentorship isn’t just something we see in the workplace. It’s also rearing its ugly head in school. Believe it or not, women get less mentoring especially in business school - just because they are women. This disturbing fact was recently proven by research conducted by The Wharton School’s Katherine Milkman, along with Modupe Akinola of Columbia Business School and Dolly Chugh of NYU.
Shame on all of us if we do not fix this – and fast! Getting women the coaching they need is the fuel to break through the glass ceiling and drive their growth within corporate America.
A clear benefit of having a coach is learning from the real-life experiences of other women. Women face a number of challenges in their career that men simply don’t encounter. For example, a fast track rising star partner in one of the top audit and professional service firms approached her supervising partner about a challenging situation she encountered. “I took one of our important clients out for dinner last week to discuss further opportunities for expansion of our services and he thought it was a date. “ The supervisor thought it was funny and shrugged it off. Not surprising.... that same fast track executive resigned a year later and she moved to a firm where female partners are coached by other senior female partners.
But it’s not just the mentees who benefit from coaching. Coaches learn as well, often cultivating and honing a broad range of skills which help their own careers, such as improving coaching, developing better listening skills, and building leadership skills and self-esteem through recognition and validation of their own professional abilities. So, what’s the solution?
I’m trying one - it may not be the only solution - but I have strong expectations it will work. At two universities from which I graduated (Southwestern Law School and Pepperdine’s Presidential Key Executive MBA program) I have created endowed scholarships for women with an aptitude for and interest in Strategic Alliances, which was my area of expertise over my three-decade long career.
It’s not the money that counts. The real value of these scholar- ships is their focus on coaching and my commitment to each of the awardees to mentor them for the rest of my life. And recipients are not chosen just because of academic excellence. They are evaluated based on their drive, determination, dedication to paying it forward to others --- as well as scholastic prowess. And the final criteria is that they must commit to coach each other and other awardees coming after them.
Recipients come from varied industries and stages in their career. Through their own LinkedIn group and quarterly lunches which I host, the women are bonding. They’re not only leveraging my skills and contacts, but each other’s.
As Segil Scholarship recipient Mehrnaz Hadian, MD, MScCR, FCCM who is JD Candidate at Southwestern Law School, shares, “I believe women are underrepresented in every aspect of life. We’re not making it to the corner office fast enough and as often as we should. We need to do what men have been doing for years - support each other, make connections, and become invested in each other’s successful careers. Having a coach and being connected to successful women gives me hope that we can make a difference for future generations of women to achieve true equality in life.”
Mentorship helps women at all stages of their career as recipient Linda LoRe, CEO of InjoyGobal and former Senior Executive at Proctor and Gamble and former CEO of worldwide brands includ- ing Giorgio Beverly Hills, Avon, and Frederick’s of Hollywood who is an MBA Graduate of Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine, explains. “I was a CEO for 23 years. For me at this point in my career,
coaching is not as much about how to do things, but about how and where I can leave a legacy that can make a difference. I believe that regardless of age, we all can learn from each other. I’m in awe of the other women in this group, by listening, talking, sharing, teaching ....I’m eager to take whatever I can from whomever is willing to give it.”
As Linda points out, the value of mentorship spans one’s entire career. The reasons every successful woman needs a mentor include: • A mentor or coach will help you define and reach short and long term goals. She will help you explore achievable goals, ask the pointed questions to help you define them, and work with you to
create strategies and benchmarks to keep you focused on the goal.
• A mentor or coach will help you look outside the box. As you grow in your business or career, it is easy to reach a plateau. A good mentor brings a fresh perspective and will help you look at situa- tions in new ways. They will ask hard questions and help you solve problems. This will help you work more efficiently with a clearer
view of your goals.
• A mentor or coach is a trusted colleague to discuss problems and find solutions. Through a mentor you gain a sounding board, a true confidante to brainstorm with.
• A mentor of coach has the breath and depth of business ex- perience to help you grow your business. A mentor comes from the school of ‘hard knocks,’ and can give you sound advice based on her years of experience.
• A mentor or coach is a learning partner. Mentoring rela- tionships are partnerships where both women learn something. The mentor brings experience, understanding and guidance; the mentee brings ideas and ambitions.
It fits neatly into a formula you may recognize. E=MC2 – which instead of referring to Einstein’s theory of Relativity, refers to EXCELLENCE = MONEY plus MENTORING and CONFI- DENCE plus COACHING
I encourage others to offer scholarships to women that are ac- companied by the donor’s commitment to coach, mentor, introduce, connect, advise and assist - and that include the expectation that the winners commit to coach each other over the decades that follow. Just imagine what could be achieved if female mentors, coaches and mentees created a community for each other that lasts a lifetime. Wait a minute.. Isn’t that what the guys do?
Former CEO, serial entrepreneur and globally recognized strategic alli-
ance expert, Larraine Segil now serves on public and private company Boards and is a Mentor, Coach and Philanthropist to emerging businesses and their leaders.