By Aliona Geckler, Chief of Staff and SVP of Business Operations, Acronis
More and more women are joining the tech industry every day. Companies, no longer comfortable with the status quo, begin to realise the great benefits of having a diverse workforce, and start to provide equal opportunities to people of all walks of life. I love hearing stories about diversity changing company culture and even improving the bottom line. It shows us the workforce is evolving and women are playing an essential part in this process.
This is a pivotal and exciting time for women in tech, a historically male-dominated industry. However, there are many remaining obstacles women face in the workforce. Luckily, with the proper resources and guidance, organisations can empower women with the skill sets needed to overcome challenges and lead successful careers. One such tool is mentorship.
A mentor is someone who usually has either a similar profession or background and who can offer their wisdom and share their experience with the mentee to help conquer obstacles and make important career choices. The right mentor can even be a door opener and a long-term point of reference to confide in during the journey.
The impact of mentorship on career satisfaction is striking: 40% of women cite lack of mentorship as one of the biggest challenges in the tech industry, alongside a lack of female role models and opportunities for advancement.
As the Chief of Staff and SVP of Business Operations at Acronis, I am proud to see firsthand the role mentorship plays in inspiring and educating women in the tech industry. We have officially launched our own mentorship programme, with already 50+ mentees involved across the world.
Our mentorship programme is part of the #CyberWomen initiative which is targeted to identify, educate, inspire and coach the next generation of female leaders. We identified 50 high-potential women, selected through our performance review process, to be mentored by 40 of our senior leaders, executives, board members and advisors.
Our mentees are fortunate enough to receive guidance from accomplished industry leaders like our Chairman and former CEO of VMware Paul Maritz, Acronis Board Member and former CMO of Palo Alto Networks René Bonvanie, and former Vice-Chancellor of Germany Philipp Rösler, who is one of our advisors, among several other senior executives.
Mentoring meetings are happening monthly, and we started with internal training on what mentoring is about, the role of mentor and mentee, and how to start. It’s essential to agree on the goal of mentoring for each mentee, and we mainly focus on developing soft skills and support with career progression.
I, myself, currently have two mentees at Acronis. I enjoy our sessions very much and am happy and satisfied when I can give support to my female colleagues. This support can be around understanding themselves better, planning their next career steps, achieving more in their current roles, navigating difficult situations, networking better internally and externally, or balancing professional goals and personal plans like marriage and children. Mentorship sessions also are beneficial for mentors. I am continuously learning from my mentees and using this knowledge in many aspects of my work.
There is also an evident demand for mentors — when the mentorship programme was first announced at Acronis, my inbox was immediately inundated with supportive women eager to join the programme.
Leaders looking to implement mentorship opportunities for women can — and should — start by looking within their organisation for potential mentors. This is not to offset all mentor responsibilities on individual employees, but having female supervisors and executive women available to provide direction and help navigate the corporate world can go a long way. These one-on-one relationships are essential to helping professionals develop the proper networking and interpersonal skills, including self-preservation, self-care, and improved confidence in the workplace.
To make it a successful mentorship programme, the organisation must ensure employees have the necessary time and resources to connect with these potential mentors on a consistent and private basis. These mentored employees can go on to become mentors themselves later on in their careers, helping strengthen the bonds and sense of community in the workplace between women and those from various backgrounds. Studies have even shown that employees with mentors are promoted up to five times more often than their non-mentored peers, with mentors being promoted up to six times more than their peers.
With consistent mentoring, women from all backgrounds and walks of life can thrive in their careers and inspire a stronger, more confident future generation of women to join the technology sector — which will benefit both the market and individuals in the long run. My personal experiences in this field have only inspired me to continue pushing for mentorship initiatives in Acronis and to spread the word about the benefits of professional mentoring.