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FTSE 100® Cross-Company Mentoring Programme: Next Generation Women Leaders

The mission of the Next Generation Women Leaders Programme is to assist in the development of the UK "pipeline" of talented senior female executives, by offering highly individualised and effective mentoring relationships for high-potential women at the mid-stages of their career.

The Next Generation Women Leaders Programme was launched in late 2012 as a ‘pilot’: "The Pipeline Programme" which ran for a year. Due to the success of the pilot programme, which you can read about by clicking on the link below, the Next Generation Women Leaders Programme was launched in early 2014.

  How the Next Generation Programme began: The Pipeline Programme

In his 2011 Report, Women on Boards, The Lord Davies of Abersoch CBE identified attrition of women at mid-career stage of their life as the most significant obstacle to ensuring a robust pipeline of future women leaders. He described the reasons as complex and mentioned lack of flexible working, work-life balance issues and disillusionment at career progress as factors. This Programme is aimed at talented mid-career women who have the potential to progress two or three more levels in their organisations to reach senior management or executive level. It is our experience that these women often face key career transitions at a time when they may well also be balancing other competing demands on them. They frequently lack strong female role models to guide and support them. This Programme aims to:

draw attention to the particular challenges women face at this stage of their career, which have resulted in such high levels of attrition
address those challenges through a mix of one-to-one mentoring and group learning
facilitate the introduction of Mentees to senior business figures through the broader network of the Foundation and its Executive Programme
facilitate shared learning between senior sponsors within participating companies about the issues facing women in the talent pipeline, to enable them to refine their understanding of the interventions that might best help retain top women
maintain in-depth qualitative data about our cohorts of Programme Mentees, in particular their future progress, offering unique insights into how the Programme and related interventions help them progress through their careers
disseminate research knowledge, advice and guidance on the development of human resource management policies to address the career challenges faced by talented younger women executives in the UK.

How the Next Generation Women Leaders Programme operates

The Programme implements and supports mentoring relationships for high-potential women at the junior end of senior management in participating companies. These women are paired with senior female executive Mentors at or just below Executive Committee level.

Mentees are selected by participating companies in consultation with The Mentoring Foundation. The Foundation draws on its network of Mentees and Alumnae from the original FTSE 100® Cross-Company Mentoring Executive Programme to act as Mentors.  These women have the experience both of having built successful careers and having been mentored in the original FTSE Programme. The Mentors are successful, well-connected and influential, working at the highest level in some of the country’s largest organisations.  They offer enormous experience and great role-modelling capabilities for Mentees on the Next Generation Women Leaders Programme.  Mentor and Mentee profile documents produced by The Mentoring Foundation offer guidance to participating companies, where this is helpful, in identifying suitable candidates.

Two cohorts of up to ten Mentees in each year are admitted to the Programme. A bespoke Programme, creating a network of opportunity, has been developed for them. It is centred around a first-class mentoring relationship combined with facilitated action learning. Mentees also benefit from a broader network of connections made possible by the generosity of the Foundation’s unique Executive Programme Mentors, Mentees and Alumnae.

One-to-one mentoring

We match each Mentee with a Mentor from a different organisation. The Mentors are all successful, senior women and alumnae of the FTSE 100® Cross-Company Mentoring Executive Programme. They have themselves benefitted from mentoring at the highest level on the Executive Programme, and have expressed a desire to extend a helping hand to women further down the pipeline.

The Programme runs for a twelve month period. The number of mentoring meetings arranged, and the precise duration of each, is agreed between Mentors and their Mentees. As a guide, the mentoring pair meets every two months, and each conversation lasts approximately an hour and a half. The principles governing the Executive Programme also apply, allowing each pair to find a way of working that suits them. The same matching process is used and as with the Executive Programme it is this, together with the skill of the Mentor and willingness to learn on the part of the Mentee, that ensure success. We maintain close contact with both parties, and are on hand if questions arise.

Action learning

Participants in the programme are brought together in their cohort groups to engage in learning sessions, which we facilitate. These confidential groups provide the opportunity for women to address issues of shared importance as a group; for example, understanding and developing executive presence, the skills of influencing and persuasion and the importance of building strong professional networks for the future.

Support provided by The Mentoring Foundation

The Mentoring Foundation provides a highly individualised service including:

preparation workshops for Mentees, allowing them to meet and network with each other as well as offering tips and guidance on how to prepare for and build successful mentoring relationships that deliver results for them
an initial meeting with Mentors to discuss the role of Mentor in this particular Programme
a bespoke matching process where each individual Mentee is placed with an appropriate Mentor in another company.  Matching is based on a briefing from the sponsoring organisation, one-to-one meetings with both Mentees and Mentors and on supporting written submissions from the Mentee, setting out her expectations from the Next Generation Women Leaders Programme
face-to-face review sessions with individual Mentees to discuss progress
facilitation of action-learning workshops for Mentees during their time with the Programme; and
systematic liaison with sponsors in participating companies.

Access to a broad and influential network

As a result of the generosity and commitment of our Executive Programme Mentors and Mentees, Next Generation Programme Mentees have the chance to meet with leading figures in business and the public sector in informal settings. Such meetings have included an informal meeting with Sir Simon Fraser KCMG, Former Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; lunch with Sir Philip Hampton, Chair, Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc, to discuss the issues faced by women in business, an afternoon discussion with Sir John Sawers, then Chief of SIS and his colleagues, and an afternoon workshop with Elaine Arden, Group Human Resources Director, Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc, on the theme of her career journey and how organisations can support the retention and development of talented women.

Building the Mentoring Relationship

Each matched Mentee and Mentor get together for an initial “chemistry” meeting, after which they decide whether and how they would like to proceed.  As with the Executive Programme, we provide each mentoring pair with our Mentoring Guidelines – but these are a template rather than a straightjacket, and each pair is encouraged to agree a framework for their relationship that meets their individual needs.

A guiding principle is that at least 4 meetings should take place over a 12-month period. Mentoring relationships last for 12 months.

The Next Generation Women Leaders Programme offers its Mentees benefits similar to those enjoyed by the Mentees on the Executive Programme. These do not lend themselves to quantitative measurement, but our experience suggests that they will include the following:

Role models. Mentees interact with some of the country’s most successful senior female executives and benefit from their experience and the model they have developed for building their own success in the corporate world
Bespoke Professional Learning and Development. In the context of their own specific needs, Mentees build a development framework with their Mentor that offers them the type of insight, coaching and support they need to help them consolidate their careers
Confidence. Research shows that women suffer disproportionately from lack of confidence.  Our experience of leading the FTSE Executive Programme over the last ten years is that the Next Generation Women Leaders Programme enhances Mentees’ confidence, both by virtue of having been selected as a Mentee and through the influence of the Mentor’s coaching, advice and support
Network.  Mentees have the opportunity to expand their networks through their mentoring relationships, connections with other Mentees and through the broader Mentoring Foundation network and events
Facilitated Action Learning.  Through self-managed workshops, the Mentee group acquires both substantial business knowledge and skills in a confidential and safe environment of shared development.

Robust Evaluation Framework

Together with Birkbeck, University of London, we have developed a framework for evaluation. It promotes a culture of learning, using feedback systematically sought from participants and other interested stakeholders. This is analysed and the learning is fed back into the Programme. Feedback is based apon one-on-one confidential discussions.

Achievements of our Mentees

81 Mentoring Pairs have participated in the FTSE 100® Cross-Company Mentoring Programme: Next Generation Women Leaders since its launch in 2012, and many of the women who have been mentored are progressing in their careers, receiving promotions and assuming positions of greater responsibility.

Participating in the Programme

We are delighted to discuss the Programme with companies interested in participating in it. Please call us for an informal discussion.

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