Women in Digital: the Magic of Mentoring

Women in Digital invites you to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 with our Magic of Mentoring series. We’re kicking off with our senior delivery manager Lucy Griffiths, one of the creators of Zone’s Mentorship scheme…

With #ChooseToChallenge the theme of this year’s IWD, we’re choosing to challenge gender imbalance by calling out gender bias and inequality. We see how gender bias contributes to inequality, limited opportunities and lack of representation.

We know now, more than ever, the importance of representation and the significance it plays in creating role models. That’s why we are shining a light on the women of Zone and the power of sharing knowledge through mentorship.

This week we’ll be sharing our experiences and tips on being a mentee and mentor, what we’ve learnt and the valuable advice we’ve been given throughout our careers.

Zara, Delivery director and mentor at Zone.

Mentoring at Zone

In November 2020 we launched a mentoring initiative at Zone. This was researched, designed and rolled out by me and senior UX designer Jess Carver. We worked closely with the leadership team throughout the process to make sure the initiative reflected our Zone values. We’re proud to have launched an initiative that enables everyone at Zone to raise others up by becoming a mentor, friend and cheerleader for others.

Through our mentoring initiative, women are able to embrace mentorship and build connection and communities through guiding and learning from others.

How did this come about?

At Zone we know our people are our power and we wanted to make the most of this opportunity. With no previous official mentoring scheme, we were able to start from scratch and choose our own platform to create quality pairings that get the most out of mentoring.

Our aim was to create an accessible and easy way to connect mentors and mentees. We wanted to provide a framework and guidance on how to get the most out of mentoring, so it delivers value for all involved.

Isabel, senior product designer and mentor at Zone.

Why have a mentor?

Many of us head into the world of work feeling rather lost and alone, having had guidance and support from teachers and peers throughout education. Mentoring at Zone helps generate a culture where we keep this cheer squad going for everyone in the workplace.

An individual’s mentoring needs will differ greatly based on where they are in their career. In most cases, the mentor is more experienced which means they are able to pass on their wisdom and guidance to help others grow professionally.

It’s important to remember, mentorship is unique to each individual. It may involve a catch up over a cup of coffee once a month, or it may be a more formal weekly check-in, or even daily stand ups. Our mentoring initiative provides a framework to suit everyone’s needs.

How does it work?

Using an online platform, we have created a framework that can be used to either find a mentor or sign up to become a mentor.

To become a mentor, individuals are asked to provide a short bio and a picture for their profile. The profiles will form part of a mentoring database, which allows mentees to find a mentor who they feel would be a good fit. The next step is for the mentee to reach out to the mentor. It is important they both connect on a personal level too, so they can get the most out of the relationship.

The framework provides guidance for mentees on how to set realistic goals and how to track progress against these. The mentee will drive the mentoring relationship in order to reach their goals.

When searching for a potential mentor, mentees can use the filters on the mentoring database. The filters are broken down by discipline, name, location or superpower.

A selection of our mentor library at Zone.

What are superpowers at Zone?

Everyone has areas of expertise and wisdom they can share with others. At Zone we call these superpowers. With over 250 of us at Zone we have a broad range of skills ready to tap into. These can be anything from expertise in agile methodology to public speaking. Highlighting an individual’s superpowers on our mentoring framework helps mentees understand what they will be able to learn from their potential mentors.

One of the superpowers at Zone is ‘Women in Leadership’. We’re proud to have women across all levels at Zone, including leadership roles. Having a mentor in leadership can help inspire growth and level up another women’s career.

How is the initiative inclusive for women?

At Zone women are represented across all disciplines, although it has to be said that representation is less in some disciplines than others and we acknowledge the work we have to do to get this balance right. Our mentoring initiative allows our women with all different levels of experience, varied skills and from diverse backgrounds to meet with other women to benefit from this broad range of experience through the sharing of knowledge.

The mentoring database, by design, displays everyone regardless of level of experience, background, gender or age. It means mentors are accessible to everyone at Zone.

The magic of mentoring — a final thought

Our Women in Digital community champions and encourages diversity across Zone and within our industry. We have been lucky enough to develop an internal platform for mentoring that supports and enables anyone to reach out and chat easily with others. Our aim is to create a sense of belonging and an opportunity for personal growth and new relationships in our everyday lives — beyond the limits of where we sit, where we live and those we usually interact with.

Keep an eye out for the next instalment of our Magic of Mentoring series, when Jess Carver will be interviewing three women at Zone who will share their own experiences of mentoring.

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