Video production: Andrew Kennedy Lewis
There can be real benefits that result from men mentoring women or women mentoring men, says Jim Irvine, global program manager, L&D for Nissan Motor Corp. But it’s important to set clear expectations and goals.
Read the full transcript of Irvine’s interview below:
I think there’s some real benefits of men mentoring women and women mentoring men. I mean, if a woman is mentoring a woman, she can only give a woman’s perspective. Obviously, the genders often are very different. Each one brings a huge strength and probably some weaknesses. So often it is. In the Nissan world, lots of engineers. If you look at the number of women or percent of women graduating from engineering school, there’s not enough women graduating from engineering school to mentor all the women that need to be mentored in engineering. So, I think that’s great. Men can bring a a real good perspective. They can bring their point of view, not that it is right, but I think that’s really important.
I think if you’re mentoring for somebody’s gender, I think it’s very risky. What is their strengths and their weaknesses? You can have a lady that’s very logical and a man that’s very emotional. You can have somebody who’s very detailed or big picture. That’s what I think you need to be mentoring them toward. It’s where do they want to go? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Where are those gaps? Then mentor them to close those gaps.
One of the things I think that’s really important is to set clear expectations. What is the mentoring relationship about? What’s appropriate? What’s not appropriate? That needs to be sort of a company norm. Then I think it’s really about what is the goal of that mentoring? There’s obviously tons of things that you can do to make things more effective or safer. Again, with those expectations, should you be on Facebook? Should you meet outside of work? Should it be one-on-one, or if it is one-on-one, should it be in a public location? I think that really depends on the company, what their goals are, the country, what those standards are, and so forth.
I think mentoring is key. I think in especially industries that are dominated by men or countries that are dominated by men, it’s absolutely critical that there are good mentoring programs for ladies, but they have to be done appropriately and with very clear, I think, expectations and limits.