Separating the facts from fiction: The City Hive Mentoring Myth buster

Print First published: February 1st 2021; Last Updated: February 2nd 2022

This article first appeared in Investment Week, 1st February, 2021

Ever wanted to mentor someone at your workplace, but feel you have the wrong guidance to go about it? City Hive founder and CEO Bev Shah sets the record straight with the ultimate mentoring mythbuster.

It is the sad but undeniable truth in the asset and wealth management industry that women and minorities are hugely underrepresented -  across all job functions, and more so as seniority increases.

Unlike fund performance, the ethnicity and gender pay gaps are percentages that we would like to shrink not grow.

To do so, we can leverage the existing industry expertise. The City Hive cross company mentoring scheme has been designed to help address the continuing gender pay gap in our industry by unlocking that expertise, to support cultivating the female and minority talent pipeline. 

We have had an overwhelmingly positive response to our scheme from our mentors and mentees - with Mirabaud Asset Management, Federated Hermes and Invesco already supporting the scheme - but we noticed there are significant misconceptions around how mentoring works, who benefits, and why we should even do it.

With this in mind, we have created the City Hive Mentoring Mythbuster to separate the facts about our scheme from the fiction. 

Myth 1: Mentoring schemes should be free

For a mentoring scheme to be truly effective there needs to be a serious time commitment – not just from the mentor/mentee pairs. 

Time needs to be taken to cover several areas such as reviewing the mentoring pairs and ensuring that the mentors have the correct training to support their mentees. 

Funding an effective programme also keeps it free to access for those that need it most. Our programme also offers hand-on support for mentors and mentees from day one. 

We work closely with the pairs to ensure that all parties are fully engaged, committed, and getting the best possible results from the partnership. 

Myth 2: The people who truly need career support and could benefit rarely get it

The scale of the gap in industry-wide representation shows that mentoring should be widely available. Done well, mentoring offers benefits to both parties in terms of learning and experience. 

But mentoring is often asked for to provide an answer to a professional development problem the firm cannot solve. It is often offered to a select group, sometimes instead of concrete training. 

We believe this has to change, and this is why our mentoring focuses specifically on supporting female and minority talent across the industry. This is also why we insisted on creating a cross company scheme. 

We believe that to truly bring about the representational changes that we need to see, it cannot be a case of individual firms taking a stance – instead, the entire industry needs to work together to tackle the issue head on.

Myth 3: Mentors/mentees are not well matched – you get who’s available instead of who really suits you

For mentoring to be effective, both mentors and mentees need to be well suited, not just in terms of industry or job function, but also regarding goals, interests, and general personality. 

The mentors have to understand the types of challenges the mentee is facing, as well as the ones they may face in the future. 

There are many ways to match mentors and mentees, but to ensure the best results, we have ditched algorithms and matching software, and use our own experienced consultants to create bespoke matching of mentor/mentees. 

Pairs have been carefully reviewed and matched according to several areas including skills, experience, and programme aspirations. 

Our ultimate goal for the programme is for it to yield great results, and a key part of this is ensuring that the mentor/mentee pairs work well together and can really help each other to achieve their objectives.

Myth 4: Mentoring will benefit only the mentees

There does seem to be this concept of mentoring being a bit of a one-way street, but this could not be further from the truth when it comes to our scheme. 

Mentoring should benefit all parties that are involved – mentors, mentees, and the organisations that they work for. Mentoring is about more than sharing knowledge, experience and advice. 

For mentors, as well as the satisfaction of supporting and helping junior members of the industry, our scheme provides peer-group interaction, training and support to help them with their own personal development, leadership and coaching style.

Mentoring also exposes mentors to new ideas and perspectives and offers an opportunity to reflect upon their own goals and career trajectories. 

Our scheme being cross company also ensures that there are benefits for the industry by helping to create a much wider talent pool where employees have enhanced skills and experiences. This could lead to improved performance, and far better retention. 

Myth 5: Mentoring is a panacea for issues within the workplace

As much as we believe our mentoring scheme will have a significant, positive impact on the industry, it is far from a cure all. There is no single silver bullet that can address the issues we have with representation within the industry. 

Instead, we have to work together and look at the various ideas that we can implement and bring forward to ensure that we really focus on cultivating the female and minority talent pipeline. 

Mentoring should not just be a tick box exercise to look as if an attempt is being made to address our lack of diversity. 

It is one (albeit important) step that opens doors and dialogue in our industry, which will create a space that better represents and serves our end users. 

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