Sharing the benefits of mentoring

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Written by Fay Sharpe on 3 December 2014

When we set up Zibrant 25 years ago, we would not have predicted it would become one of the market-leaders in the meetings and events sector. Looking back, it’s easy to see that much of this success has been down to having fantastically-driven and loyal staff, supported by a continually evolving culture which gives everyone self-confidence and self-belief.

Since the company’s foundation, I have made sure that we continually challenge and change pre-conceived social constructs of personal ability and staff development, particularly for talented female employees. Much of this was drawn from my own experience back in the 80s in male dominated hotel groups where all the senior directors were men and most of the GM’s.  Since then it has been my goal to champion women in the workplace, ensure they are fairly represented in the events and hospitality business and their unique skills are brought to the fore.

With 75 per cent of the meetings and event industry alone being female, progression and the advancement of women up the ranks has always been a critical element of how I have developed the culture of my own organisation. For me, it’s about genuine equality achieved through putting processes into place resulting in happy and motivated staff.

Empathetic benefits such as flexible working, childcare vouchers and guaranteed job security following maternity leave are important, but a key part of ensuring this is mentoring. Establishing our programme was partially influenced by a clear call for educational steer from female employees looking for more guidance and input from senior management in their career paths (without too much impact on their personal, often parental commitments).

Regular mentoring, one-to-one’s and appraisals are part of the culture of Zibrant and are fundamental to the development of our staff as well as being a vital tool for management to identify talented employees and help them be the best they can be.  Statistics show that female employees are less likely to come forward when opportunities present themselves and the impact of our culture and processes is easily registered:

  • 61 per cent of women identify as mentors
  • 58 per cent identify as receiving mentoring from others
  • 63 per cent said they gained confidence as a result of mentoring

Above all, it has helped enrich the role of many female employees, developing key skills such as leadership, teamwork and communication. In fact 96 per cent of those mentored said that they had gained leadership confidence as a result.

Mentoring is something which I have personally benefited from, continue to do and which my organisation sees as an everyday element of growing our pool of talent.  Now I want to share the benefits looking forward to 2015.

Fast Forward 15 is an initiative I am personally championing, aiming to develop aspiring female candidates in the hospitality industry through providing opportunities to gain visibility, exposure and confidence. It is important for our business, the economy and our society that women are able to use their talents fully at all levels within the workplace, whatever their aspirations. The mentoring programme will span across the sector, giving access and insight from some of the leaders in hospitality, an inspiring portfolio of influential and select talent, willing to share their knowledge and experience with the stars of the future.

I’m really excited by what Fast Forward 15 will achieve for our industry, and look forward to a rewarding year ahead!


About the author
Fay Sharpe, MD, Zibrant

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