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Why Working Women Need to Mentor Other Women

Don't forget to help the women behind you on your way to the top.

This story originally appeared on Career Contessa

Don't forget to help the women behind you on your way to the top.


The other day I had to schedule time to shave my legs. That’s not a joke.

And then, while shaving, all I could think about was the other stuff I could be doing with that precious time. Perhaps that’s a bit TMI, but it’s a pretty accurate depiction of many of today’s working, career-driven women. We are so busy; and if you’re anything like me, you like it that way.

Related: Fried? 9 Hyper-Motivating TED Talks from Women on the Top.

So yes, today’s working women are juggling a lot. But let’s not glorify it or complain about it. We fought for the right to have this life, so let’s revel in it. We’re climbing ladders and breaking glass ceilings. We’re sitting front and center in boardrooms (albeit, not enough) and in the words of Beyoncé we’re, “Strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business.” Life’s good, girls.

But in all our triumph, promotion, and success, there’s one major thing we often forget to make time for -- teaching. We must not forget to reach back and pull the next generation of talent up along with us as we climb.

Chances are, someone once took a chance on you. Mine came in the form of being offered a highly-coveted, paid internship at InStyle magazine just a few months out of college. With only small-town publications to my name and absolutely no national print experience, hard work landed me an interview and then a little luck landed me the internship itself.

On paper I was probably the greenest candidate to walk through the door but, in-person, the chief of reporters saw something -- some drive, some ambition, some gusto -- and she gave me the gig. I’ve never taken that moment for granted. Over the next year she invested time, resources and energy into honing my skills and the only way to repay her for the leg up is to pay it forward.

Taking time to teach other young women may feel like an added item on your to-do list but, the reality is, it’s beneficial for both parties and here’s why.

1. Retention

Long gone are the days when employees stay at one job for their entire career. Today, the more talent you've got, the more options you have. 

Taking time to teach your employees is a fantastic way to ensure they feel their presence and work are meaningful enough to stay put -- thus saving you time and recruiting costs.

It’s an innate human quality to want to grow and learn. Passing along the knowledge you've attained over the years helps nourish this need. 

Related: 12 Women-Run Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

Teaching is also an investment in someone’s career development -- that’s pretty hard to walk away from. Teach to hang on to your top talent!

2. Diversity

When we mentor, we identify hidden talent. Teaching allows young women who come from less-fortunate circumstances the opportunity to apply hard work and drive -- things that can’t be seen on a résumé. It gives those who may not come from affluent families with deep pockets a chance to go above their lesser-known college degrees.

When we take the time to teach, we give qualities like gusto and grit a chance to win out over pedigree and polish. Lastly, we create a work culture with varying perspectives and knowledge, which is crucial to creating well-rounded work. 

So hire smart and then nurture the underdog who shows potential.  

3. Preservation

Take a minute to think about the day-to-day nuances of your role. These are the little attributes afforded to you by time. From how to navigate office politics, to the most productive way to streamline tasks -- you've worked hard for this know-how. 

Don’t you want to preserve your craft? Start these conversations with colleagues now. You’d be surprised how many young women in the workplace cannot identify a female mentor.

Teaching the next generation of talent ensures your expertise lives on and makes sure things are done to the standards you’ve worked so hard to set.  

4. Karma

Call me an optimist, but good deeds have good energy. If we don’t pay forward the lucky chances we get in life, we’re stopping good energy in its tracks.

You can’t take from others without giving something back. We must take the time to schedule coffee meetings, encourage career lessons, and invest in our young women -- no matter how cluttered our schedules are.

Related: The Surprising Hobbies of Oprah, Serena Williams and 12 Other Successful Women

Oh, and one last thing: If Taylor Swift has taught us anything it’s that having a solid girl squad is essential, so let’s continue to build each other up, support each other’s career development, and make time to teach.

Have a mentor who’s changed your life? Tell us how and in what way you’re keeping the good vibes going!

(By Kate Westervelt)

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