Mentoring matters…

Adrienne Kelbie, CBE, one of our non-executive directors, discusses the difference mentoring can make throughout your career and the importance of embracing mentoring within a company, no matter its size.

Without people taking time to mentor me – sometimes when I didn’t want it but needed it most! – my career and life would have been far less rich.  I can remember feeling lost, frustrated and overwhelmed at many points in my career – from being a temp PA to an experienced CEO – and mentors helped me learn, grow and improve my skills. 

As an independent Non-executive director and leadership coach/facilitator, much of my time is spent supporting others to achieve their potential as leaders at all levels.  This includes ensuring mentoring and coaching is integral to People strategies and through training programmes and cultural expectations.  It can’t be left to random acts of kindness, but rather must be integral to how organisations work.

Successful companies recognise the value of mentoring to having a sustainable business.  Ask the Fortune 500 companies who work on strong data about what will improve their RoI.  A whopping 84% of them have formal mentoring programmes (and 100% of the Fortune 50).

Businesses that invest in mentoring keep staff longer, and happier

Mentoring has grown in importance as staff with in-demand skills have become more willing to switch jobs more often, leaving companies with gaps in capacity, capability and expensive recruitment campaigns.  I’m shocked that 65% of people said they were looking for a new job in 2021[i].  Imagine if more than half of your workforce quietly (or not so quietly!) were planning to leave you, right now…

The good news is that staff with a mentor – at every level – are far less likely to consider leaving[ii] with half staying longer.  It’s also the case that staff with a mentor tend to be happier in their roles – the same survey puts that at 90%.  Don’t we all feel better when working with happy people than miserable ones?  And surely customers benefit too?

It also helps business agility, with two thirds of staff being willing to retrain for new jobs rather than leave. However, they are tired of online training and are showing a strong preference for 1-1 or group mentoring – i.e. people want to develop relationships as they develop their skills.  Feedback is far richer between people than from cold test scores and aids confidence to tackle change with a more open mind.

Staff want to feel valued

Humans have an innate need to belong.  It’s hard wired into our biology, and  doesn’t change just because we are working. Good businesses recognise that valuing people isn’t just about money. Mentoring is consistently credited as a positive motivator, good for mental wellbeing, AND improves performance.  Perhaps that’s why there was a 30% increase in mentoring programmes during the pandemic. 

Mentoring aids inclusion

Most companies are moving beyond thinking about diversity to embracing inclusion. As they should, for 80% of staff[iii] want to work in a place where Diversity, Equality and Inclusion are prioritised. 

For companies keen to improve their gender diversity, especially at middle and senior levels, mentoring is magical! 80% of staff see inclusivity, sponsorship, allyship, participation, and skill-building as key drivers for DEI mentoring programs[iv]

Yet 63% of women report that they’ve never had a formal mentor, while 67% say it’s extremely important to their career advancement and 54% say they’ve never been asked[v]. Given businesses with women on the Board are more profitable, closing this gap is key to improved inclusion and business performance.

Did you know that companies led by women suffered the least profit impact after the COVID downturn? Or that companies with racially diverse leadership teams are 33% more profitable[vi]? Or that 72% of DiversityInc Top 50 companies use reverse mentoring programmes? 

Mentoring also helps engage millennials and Gen Z. 

  • 68% of millennials who stay put for at least five 5 years have a mentor, more than double the number without[vii].
  • Millennial and Gen Z staff with a mentor are 21% to 23% more likely to be satisfied with their current job, compared to those without a mentor [viii].

And finally, it’s not all one way traffic. Mentors are rewarded by being six times more likely than non-mentoring peers to be promoted.  It really is win-win.

Mentoring need not be expensive

To be clear, mentoring needn’t be expensive. At its most basic, it takes a growth mindset and consistent application. Many resources to train mentors are available free online, and professional bodies generally help facilitate access to mentors in their networks. So there’s no reason for companies not to tangibly show that they care about their staff, and that they want to create a meaningful relationship between work and personal purpose. 

That’s far more achievable than big bonuses and pay rises…

Our Reality

At the Seventy Ninth Group, we embrace mentoring. On a personal level, I’ve been delighted to support staff such as our CEO, Natalie Bellis, to rise from Compliance Manager to our most senior role. And Lydia Reuter, our Compliance Officer who is shifting to take a strategic view of Quality and Systems. Also, Phil Hayton, our Social Media Manager, who is getting more involved in our content. All of the Directors offer opportunities to staff to learn from them; and in turn, we learn too. 

Our experience mirrors that of Sun Microsystems research, where those being mentored were five times more likely than those not being mentored to receive a pay rise or be promoted. 


So, in summary, mentoring really does matter. Make it part of your strategy, no matter how big or small your company, and reap the benefits.

[i] PwC Pulse Survey: Next in work

[ii] CNBC/Survey Monkey Survey

[iii] CNBC/Survey Monkey survey

[iv] MentorcliQ

[v] The Sponsor Dividend, DDI

[vi] Delivering through diversity, McKinsey & Company

[vii] The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, Winning over the next generation of leaders


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