Exeleon Magazine

The Importance of Mentorship for Female Leaders

mentorship for women by Malika Begin

Following is an article written by Malika Begin, Founder and CEO of Begin Development, on the importance of mentorship for women leaders. The article is part of Exeleon’s Women History Month Celebration.

In today’s dynamic and complex professional landscape, mentorship shines as an inspiration, guiding individuals toward success and nurturing their growth. It also gives them a competitive advantage if pursued strategically. Amidst the intricacies of modern workplaces, mentorship isn’t just advantageous; it’s essential, especially for female leaders breaking barriers and challenging societal norms.

As the Founder and CEO of Begin Development, I’ve personally witnessed the profound impact of mentorship on female leaders’ journeys. I’ve built mentorship programs at multiple organizations because I believe in and see firsthand the impact on junior and mid-career employees. Transitioning from a contributor to establishing my own women-led firm, I’m committed to cultivating a thriving career in people development for myself and others. Mentors and mentorship communities have played an invaluable role in this success.

Creating Opportunities for Growth

One of the primary functions of mentorship is to create growth opportunities through guidance and wisdom. Female leaders face complex challenges in the workplace, ranging from gender bias, work-life balance, mental load, and lack of representation.

A mentor can serve as a guide, offering support and perspective during crucial times. At one point in my career, I was a prime candidate to leave the workforce due to my age, gender, and newly added children. My insightful male boss allowed me to have a flexible schedule and work from home as a working mother. When he retired, the company no longer allowed this policy. Though, I didn’t want to leave, I changed my trajectory to move on because it was difficult to imagine being the kind of mom I wanted to be with the commute, travel, and long hours.

This led me to start my own company, Begin Development. I had a key female mentor at that pivotal moment that encouraged and enforced me to make that leap of faith.

Moments like these illustrate the possibilities when women have great mentors by our side versus when the corporate structures continue to promote gender inequality within the workplace.

Even as I started on my entrepreneurial journey, I continued to utilize the power of mentorship. I was able to navigate the obstacles of entrepreneurship more effectively and develop the confidence to pursue my ambitions as a Founder.

With effective mentorship, women can continue to thrive and grow, progressing on the same earning potential path as others while also providing a space to champion other women in the workplace.

Breaking Through Barriers and Stereotypes

In male-dominated industries, breaking barriers and stereotypes is an ongoing battle for female leaders or women working their way up the leadership ladder. Mentorship provides a platform to challenge the norms and carve out a space for women at the table.

By connecting with mentors with challenges like mine, I’ve been exposed to a wide range of expertise. Studies show that mentorship increases confidence levels among female mentees, helping them navigate challenges with resilience and self-assurance.

According to two studies by the Harvard Business Review, employees with mentors are more likely to receive promotions and salary increases compared to those without mentors.

Around 71% of executives choose to mentor employees of the same gender or race. Therefore, mentorship, self-awareness, confidence, and positive self-talk foster a culture of inclusivity and diversity, further helping pave the way for greater representation of women in leadership roles.

Paying It Forward: Mentorship as a Catalyst for Change

As female leaders progress in their careers, we must pay it forward and mentor the next generation of aspiring leaders. A study by Catalyst found that female employees with female role models were likelier to aspire to leadership positions and stay in them. Mentorship creates a ripple effect, catalyzing positive change within organizations and communities. By serving as mentors, we as women can empower others to reach their full potential.


United, women and men can dismantle outdated norms and relentlessly pursue the obliteration of glass ceilings hindering women in the workplace. With more advocating for better systems and flexible ways of working, we create more opportunities for talent, especially women.

Mentorship emerges as a formidable instrument to chart our course forward. It transcends mere ascent to leadership; it embodies the ethos of uplifting others on our journey. The time has come to embrace mentorship as an indispensable cornerstone for cultivating the future generation of women leaders, paving the way for a more radiant, inclusive tomorrow for everyone.

About the Author:

Malika Begin is a people and organization development leader and the founder of Begin Development—a business consulting firm that works with companies to build strong, healthy cultures. Built over a decade of experience in the people development space, Malika’s signature style and dedication to team health are powered by her belief that leaders who invest in their employees, excel in conflict and communication skills, and foster collaborative teams are the biggest asset to a successful organization.

Malika’s work spans that of startups and brands in tech, media, marketing, and entertainment, and her client set includes a breadth of companies from Magnite, BOND, and CreatorIQ to SKIMs and Good American, and even Delta Airlines and YPO.

Visit Begin Development Website.

Follow Malika Begin on Instagram.

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