Co-education and mentoring: what benefits?
Rémi Zunino
Rémi Zunino

Co-education and mentoring: what benefits?

Mentoring can be defined as a privileged and personal relationship between a mentor, a more experienced person, and a mentee. The objective of this relationship is to allow the mentee to better situate him/herself in his/her current role and to foster his/her long-term personal/professional development. Why is this practice particularly appropriate in the context of programs aimed at accelerating gender diversity in companies?

Aude Bohu, Deputy General Manager and Executive Coach at Talentis explains it all to us!

What is the origin of the term "mentoring"?

Aude Bohu: "The term "mentoring" is quite old. It comes from ancient Greece, since it was Odysseus, when he went to war, who entrusted the education of his son Telemachus to a mentor.

So the origin of mentoring is this: someone who has experience, a certain seniority, a certain wisdom, who will share what they know, their knowledge, their experience with someone who is less experienced in a certain field."

Why is mentoring particularly appropriate in the context of gender diversity programs?

"One of the aspects we are trying to develop in the context of these programs to accelerate the development of female talent and their accession to positions of greater responsibility is, in particular, visibility, the ability to work on one's network, the ability to adopt a strategic posture and also the desire to project oneself and reveal one's full ambition. This is why the mentoring approach is particularly well suited. It puts a mentee in contact with a mentor who will accompany her in working on these different themes: network, visibility, knowledge of the group, decoding political games, etc..."

What are the key success factors of a mentoring process?

"A successful mentoring process is a mentoring process that is structured. When we talk about key success factors, the first thing is really to make sure that we have set objectives with measurement indicators.

Then, what is important is to establish the topics or themes on which the mentees and their mentors will work within the framework of this process. That is to say, the topics are not left completely open-ended.

Afterwards, the mentees will have to work on setting individualized objectives in relation to these themes, so that they approach their mentoring process prepared and with clear objectives.

The idea is that the mentee is in charge of her mentoring. It is not the mentor's mentoring, it is the mentee who is in charge of her mentoring and who must take the lead.

It is also important that the pairing is well matched. Ideally, the less people know each other, the better. The idea is, when you're on a group level, it's to identify a mentee and a mentor who are not in the same environment, since one of the topics, in the context of gender programs, will be to broaden one's network, to put oneself in front of other people and people who are going to count. But also to work on a career project that may be more open than the one I have thought of so far.

So, it's interesting to have people who are in slightly different environments, even if they share a common organizational culture.

The last step in successful mentoring is to train mentors to be mentors. It's not so easy for a manager to change his or her position from one day to the next, to stop making decisions, stop evaluating, and stop directing. It is going to be a matter of this leader putting himself or herself in a position of welcome, of mirror, of benevolent challenge, to hit the ball, to listen to the mentee and to be at the same time a mirror, a resource, an "orientator".

It's quite a different posture and it's not always easy for leaders to give up everything they experience on a daily basis, because there can be this syndrome, sometimes, of omnipotence: "I know how to do."

Training mentors is therefore key. Not only in terms of posture, but also in terms of subject matter, because what is the magic of a mentoring approach? Not only do we develop the mentees, but also the mentors themselves, who learn a lot. Mentoring will challenge their managerial and leadership practices.

And then, for organizations, what does mentoring allow? It allows them to retain talent, to enhance the value of the leaders in their role. And it also allows for cross-generational or cross-genre mentoring, in this case in a gender-balanced approach, and therefore to make communications more fluid, to reinforce feelings of belonging and to have people who feel much more committed, ultimately, to the company's project."

Can mentoring become an "alibi" approach?

"In fact, it could become more of an alibi than another approach. For example, organizing leadership seminars for women, to develop their soft skills, in particular to work on their professional projects, to work on their "know-how" skills is often a prerequisite in a mentoring approach. If I only do a mentoring approach, I risk being a bit 'poor' and a bit 'weak' in what I'm trying to develop with my female talents, and as a result, in the results I'm going to get in terms of accelerating their careers and in terms of setting their projects in motion."

Why call on a company like Talentis for a mentoring - gender diversity approach?

"Calling on Talentis for this type of mentoring approach allows it to be totally connected to other modalities within the framework of a female talent development program. And the other modalities can be individual coaching, group coaching, co-development, etc. So there's going to be a more comprehensive, holistic approach in the way that we implement it."

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