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Sainsbury's: How female mentoring is boosting colleague confidence

Category: Gender Focus

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Over 55 per cent of our colleagues are female and we want to help them develop their careers with us. Research has shown that mentoring is a great way to support women with their career development, so we’ve launched initiatives across our business to offer just that to female colleagues who have the potential and desire to progress their careers. So far 1,700 colleagues have signed up for mentoring and here we spoke to one of our Store Managers, Jo Taylor, about what mentoring has meant for her:

“I remember the first group mentoring session I went to, I’ll never forget it. It was all about the chimp paradox, basically learning how to control your nerves in difficult situations. Which I’ll admit I had real problems with, I would build something up in my head so much I couldn’t focus on the task in hand. But in that session, I developed an awareness that it’s something I am in control of and it’s led me to find ways to calm those feelings.

"I’ve been with Sainsbury’s for 27 years, I joined as an A level trainee manager and went into a training plan which allowed me to work my way up to a department manager and now I’m manager of a store with over 430 colleagues. 

"As I’ve progressed the need to be confident and influence people has become more and more necessary, and confidence isn’t something that has always come naturally to me. I had time out when I had my kids, came back to work part time and it was hard getting my confidence back after that.

"I think generally confidence is a big thing females tend to struggle with in the workplace for lots of different reasons, and what group mentoring helps to do is share your experiences with someone in a similar situation and figure it out together. Realise you’re not the only one with those feelings and that it’s totally ok to feel unsure sometimes. Whoever you are and wherever you are in your career.

"Mentoring has helped me so much I’ve set up my own group mentoring sessions in my region to help other women in our business. We explore techniques that can help with self-belief, or networking effectively, storytelling, interview skills, whatever we can to build people up in their roles and support them.

"In our region generally we really invest in personal development particularly mentoring, both individually and in circles, for females, BAME colleagues, LGBT+ colleagues and it really does make a difference.

"I think to any woman that doesn’t feel as confident as she’d like to in her job role I’d say you’re not alone! We all feel like that from time to time it’s just important to reach out to others when you feel safe to do so, and make a commitment to take the time out to work on your own personal development. You can’t grow and adapt like an organisation needs you to if you don’t make that commitment to yourself first.”

"Raj Patel who runs the mentoring sessions added: “Jo is a shining example of how mentoring can support you to feel more confident in your job role. I’m really conscious of providing a working environment that’s diverse and inclusive and gives everyone an opportunity to bring their full self to work. We’ve seen some great success from our mentoring groups, and I want us to create a legacy for it to continue.” 

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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