The MEntoring as a TOol Towards EMpowerment Project (ME-TOTEM) falls into the “Equality in Economic Decision Making” area of the EU Commission strategy toward gender equality in the 2010-2015 time frame. It has been awarded funding together with 31 other projects across Europe with 80% coming from the EU with the remaining 20% financed by private sources.
The project was developed by and is spearheaded by the Professional Women’s Association Milan (PWA Milan) in collaboration with the Professional Women International Brussels (PWA Brussels) and the Professional Women’s Network Global (PWN Global). It will will impact 8 European countries : Italy, Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the UK.
ME-TOTEM is structured in three main Workstreams, impacting women at various stages of their leadership journey, through different and interconnected mentoring activities. The three groups targeted are:
- Current and aspiring board members
- High potential women from the corporate world
- Women in junior positions/MBA students
Mentoring plays a critical role in the progression of women professionals in all sectors. Lack of mentoring, exclusion from networks, and absence of women role models are cited as key barriers to career advancement for women.
The benefits of mentoring are varied. Mentees often cite:
- Improving professional skills and knowledge
- Receiving guidance on making career choices and on strategizing how best to achieve objectives
- Benefiting from advice on unwritten rules and insights into the informal politics of organizations
- Benefiting from a role model, inspiration
- Growing in self-confidence
- Creating a collaboration environment between junior professionals and middle management / top executives
A few examples of common subjects covered are:
- Career planning – preparing for the challenges that could be faced in the career path
- Marketing your business or yourself – understanding how to present yourself to others
- Public speaking – often an obstacle to getting ahead
- Leadership – role models to emulate
- Networking skills and understanding the importance of relationships
- Work-life balance – ambition vs personal life