ICWES15 - Mentoring of Senior Women Engineers - Experiences and Lessons Learnt. Presented by Louise H Round, Aurecon, New Zealand
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ICWES15 - Mentoring of Senior Women Engineers - Experiences and Lessons Learnt. Presented by Louise H Round, Aurecon, New Zealand

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Presentation from ICWES 15 Conference - July 2011, Australia

Presentation from ICWES 15 Conference - July 2011, Australia

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  • Introduce self, Executive with Aurecon, Australian living and working in NZ.
  • Aurecon provides world-class engineering, management and specialist technical services to government and private sector clients. With more than 6,000 staff and over 80 offices worldwide. The program and all the figures relate to Asia Pacific region, which employees approximately 3,500 of the 6,000 staff.
  • Provide a bigger pool of potential female board members – Around 2007 it was recognised that if we wanted a female board member from within then it would be good to have more than the one candidate. The turnover by gender as a percentage of staff was 19% of females as opposed 14% of males leaving the company in the 2008/2009 financial year. Whilst the organisation wanted to reduce all turnover, there was an economic argument that if the organisation could reduce the rate of turnover amongst females to the same rate as for males then it would save AUD1.8 million per annum from its bottom line.
  • The aim of the Senior Female Executive Mentoring Program was to assist the senior Executive women in their development and provide an opportunity to increase their visibility with the senior leaders in the organisation. Explain a Senior Executive and that there are five, four of whom participated. 23 female Executives compared with 456 male Executives. Mentors are Directors The 12 month program was to be deliberately informal with the expectation that mentors would be fully trained and supported to initially drive the program. Human Capital prepared guidelines for participants in December 2008. The program had seven phases . Phase 1 - A Diversity Leadership representative paired a senior leader with a female Executive. Phase 2 - An invitation was sent to the five senior female Executives (Level 8 and 9) in March 2009 for the first meeting. Phase 3 - Human Capital provided mentoring tips to the Directors (booklet or face-to-face meeting). Phase 4 - The first meeting took place. The next meeting was then identified collaboratively by the mentor and mentee. Phase 5 - Monthly meetings continued for 12 months, or as agreed between mentor and mentee. Phase 6 - Human Capital gathered mid term feedback from mentees on the program’s effectiveness. Phase 7 - The program was reviewed after 12 months. At this point it was expected that a final letter would be sent to each female Executive with thanks for participation and a final message from her mentor.
  • Expected Outcomes Problems that can arise in a mentoring scheme are mainly around the participants not having a good understanding of the mentoring process that is being followed, for example vague or unarticulated expectation of the roles. With the provision of detailed information to the participants and the clear endorsement at the most senior level, ie the CEO , the Aurecon program expected to prevent many of the problems. Aurecon’s program was well designed and it would be expected to achieve its objective of assisting Executive women in their development and providing an opportunity to increase their visibility to the senior leaders in the organisation . The only constraint on the program would appear to have been that the mentors were not selected for their interest in the program, rather for their position in the company.
  • Human Capital gathered feedback from mentees on the program’s effectiveness after six months, the results of which are discussed below. The feedback was obtained by a member of the Human Capital team. It consisted of a telephone call to each participant and asking the mentees: Has the program been of value to you personally? How? Would you like to continue with your mentor? What has been the major challenge in this program? Other comments The same person made all the calls and then collated the results for the Mentoring and Leadership Working Group, keeping individual feedback anonymous. Outcomes Mid-Program Findings The clear result from the feedback was that all mentees had benefited from the program. The two main benefits that mentees saw were gaining exposure to the senior leader and being able to take a more strategic view of their career. All mentees were able to easily connect with and relate to their mentor. However, most indicated that more face-to-face contact would be advantageous. A comment was also made that the mentors should participate in a Mentoring Executives workshop so that the standard of mentoring is consistently high.
  • End Program Findings In April 2010 the mentors and the mentees were canvassed for their opinions on the program. The mentees were asked the same questions as at the mid program point. The four mentors were asked: Do you believe the program was of value? Would you like to continue as a mentor? What has been the major challenge in this program? Other comments The mentees felt that the program had been of value to them in two main areas. Firstly, having someone other than their line manager to receive advice from and secondly, the opportunity to receive information directly as to the direction of the organisation. They were all happy to continue beyond the 12 months with their mentor. The major challenge that was perceived with the program was maintaining a connection with the mentor. In subsequent discussions it was agreed that a change of mentor would be an advantage. This would allow the senior female Executives exposure to a further Director, which would build on one of the main benefits that the mentees saw with the program. The four mentors agreed that the program was worthwhile and that they would be happy to continue with the program. One of the mentors had concerns about having a program that provided special treatment for women. From this feedback several recommendations were made, including: The mentors could participate in a 15 minute Mentoring Executive workshop so that the standard of mentoring is consistently high. The mentees could be trained as mentors and mentor other female Executives or high potential women/men. Provide tips for mentees so that they can get the most out of the program.
  • At both the midpoint and the end of the program the feedback from the mentees and mentors was positive, with both groups feeling they had benefited from the program. The mentoring program was to assist the Executive women in their development and provide an opportunity to increase their visibility with the senior leaders in the organisation and this was achieved through exposure to the Board Members . The main lesson learnt was that the mentors needed to be sufficiently trained. A further lesson was that mentoring did give the mentees better networking opportunities. The program is continuing beyond its 12 month term with an expected re-pairing of mentors and mentees to expand on this success.
  • There have been a number of female mentoring initiatives that have been developed in light of the success of the program. One of these is the mentoring of up and coming women in the organisation. However, as the literature suggests, it is difficult for women to find women mentors, particularly in male dominated organisations. I would like to suggest that we can overcome this with mutual mentoring . One of the skills that a female engineer learns early in her career, if she wants to advance, is to work in a male dominated environment. Once a female engineer reaches Level 5 her situation at Aurecon would be that only 20% of her peers, with various technical qualifications, would be female. This is similar across all engineering dominated companies. Her counterparts in the New Zealand Public Service would have approximately equal male and female representation at that level. Expand on the figures. The table shows that a female Chief Executive in the public service is facing working in a male dominated position for the first time when she reaches Chief Executive level. I would suggest that the female Chief Executive has the business skills that would be advantageous for a female Level 5 to have to progress her career to Executive Level. Likewise, the female Level 5 will have the skills to work in a male dominated organisation.
  • There is a potential for a mutual mentoring scheme where each participant is both mentor and mentee . This mutual mentoring between, women engineers and other professionals, would be effective in organisations or professions where balanced of men and women graduate but few are in Senior Management positions, such as Law and Accountancy.

ICWES15 - Mentoring of Senior Women Engineers - Experiences and Lessons Learnt. Presented by Louise H Round, Aurecon, New Zealand ICWES15 - Mentoring of Senior Women Engineers - Experiences and Lessons Learnt. Presented by Louise H Round, Aurecon, New Zealand Presentation Transcript

  • Mentoring of Senior Women Engineers Experiences and Lessons Learnt Louise Round Aurecon ICWES 20 July 2011
  • Office locations
  • Outline
    • Why did Aurecon mentor its Senior Women?
    • What did Aurecon do?
    • Key outcomes
    • Successes of the program
    • Mutual Mentoring
  • Why did Aurecon Mentor its Senior Female Executives?
    • Provide a bigger pool of potential female board members
    • To save AUD1.8 million per annum
  • What did Aurecon do?
    • Aim of the Senior Female Executive mentoring program
    • Program phases
    1 Pairing 3 Mentoring tips 5 Monthly meetings 7 Review 2 Invitation 4 First meeting 6 Mid term feedback
  • Expected outcomes
    • Aurecon’s program
      • Detailed information for participants
      • CEO support
      • Constraint on the program
    • Assisting Executive women in their development
    • Increased visibility with the senior leaders
  • Key outcomes – mid program
    • All mentees had benefited
    • Exposure to the senior leader
    • Strategic view of their career.
  • Key outcomes – End program
    • Mentees
      • Receiving advice
      • Directly receiving information
    • Mentors
      • Happy to continue
    • Recommendations
  • Successes of the Program
    • Exposure to the Board Members
    • Lessons learnt
      • Sufficient training
      • Networking opportunity
  • Mutual Mentoring
    • Female Staff as a Percentage of all Staff
    2.2% 16.1% Public Service Chief Executive Aurecon Executive Level 9 and 10 7.2% 39.8% Public Service – Senior Mgmt (CE + Tier 2 & 3) Aurecon Level 7 and above 12.8% 47.4% Public Service – All Managers Aurecon Level 5 and above 17.3% 58.7% Overall Organisation Aurecon Professionals 2011 NZ Public Service All Staff 2010
  • Mutual Mentoring - continued
    • Each participant is both mentor and mentee
    • Professions where balanced numbers of men and women graduate but few are in Senior Management positions
  • Conclusions
    • Mentoring of Senior Female Executives achieved its aim
    • Potential for mutual mentoring
  • Any Questions?