Mentoring matters: supporting women leaders in public finance

Mon 15 Nov 2021

Mentoring matters: supporting women leaders in public finance

The Women in Public Finance conference is a platform for open discussions around the challenges of modern leadership and supporting women in the sector. Gillian Fawcett (pictured), founder of event partner Public Finance by Women, reflects on the benefits of mentorship ahead of the online event on 30 November

At a time when public services around the world are under increasing pressure to deliver sustainable services and improve outcomes, governments and public bodies more widely need to make full use of the skills and experience of all members of the workforce. This includes promoting the contribution that female leaders can make to policy decisions and supporting women’s development through mentoring and coaching. The Women in Public Finance, the conference on 30 November, is the first event in the UK to put the spotlight on the crucial steps to achieving this.

For example, Public Finance by Women (PFW), the event partner of the conference, recognises the importance of mentoring to women’s careers and has introduced an innovative pilot mentoring scheme for women working in public financial management wherever they are in the world. 

The scheme was introduced in the belief that mentoring can provide both personal and professional benefits for individuals by helping them to develop and upskill. Organisations also gain value by having access to talent and a highly skilled workforce. The mentoring scheme is now in its second year and has attracted participants from 12 countries from Kenya to Australia.

There are many mentoring schemes for individuals and organisations to choose from that deliver professional and personal benefits, but PFW believes its approach to be the ‘fresh kid on the block’ because of three unique characteristics — it's international, includes women and men, and focuses on the quality and equality of thinking individuals. Its mentors are also a movement of fabulous volunteers who are giving something back to the world of public finance.

Organisations are increasingly turning their attention to mentoring, too. For example, the Harvard Business Review reported irrefutable evidence of mentoring. "People who have strong mentors accrue a host of professional benefits, including more rapid advancement, higher salaries, greater organisational commitment, stronger identity, and higher satisfaction with both job and career. They also see personal benefits such as better physical health and self-esteem, ease of work-life integration, and stronger relational skills. At its best, mentoring can transform lives and careers," wrote authors W. Brad Johnson, David G. Smith, and Jennifer Haythornthwaite in the report.

There is much research to show that mentoring scheme participants can benefit from extending their professional networks, one-to-one coaching and exposure to new management approaches and techniques. For example, Calling Time on Gender, a publication by PFW that summarised the survey results of 107 people from 22 countries, revealed that mentoring and coaching were identified as the most popular forms of learning and development support with professional networking following closely behind. 

Mentoring for diversity

PFW believes that when the challenges we face are global, they require individuals to come together to develop a global response. A key benefit of an international mentoring scheme is that it encourages diversity of thinking so that individuals get an improved understanding of different approaches to addressing the same or similar challenges. Feedback from mentors and mentees echoes this statement.Photo of Annelien Feldtmann

"It was an absolute honour to participate in a mentoring scheme, and I firmly believe that every participant learned so much about themselves and the amazing reality that, irrespective of where you are in the world, irrespective of what your expertise is or what level you function at, as women, we all face the same daily challenges," said Annelien Feldtmann, Life and Executive Coach, CA(SA), South Africa (pictured). "And how wonderful it was to see that we can learn from one another. Mentoring has truly touched my heart. Let's empower more females and let them know that they are not alone," she enthused.

Mentoring scheme participants can also benefit from developing a greater awareness of different cultures and diversity in their thinking. This learning can only enhance the delivery of public services and support career development. 

"My experience of mentoring is that it is truly amazing and beneficial both on a personal and professional level. I think it is a great idea for having a mentoring scheme in Public Finance," said Aliya Boran (pictured) from UNODC, Germany.

The success of any mentoring scheme should allow participants to connect to a wide network of people, share experiences with a mentor about career opportunities and choices, including how to go about making progress in their careers. It's a path to learn a fresh thinking approach that focuses on accessing the talent of all people, irrespective of background, hierarchy, or power.

Developing a greater awareness of different cultures and diversity in thinking and learning should be a key underpinning factor of a successful mentoring scheme.

At PFW, we believe that mentoring can be an effective tool for the empowerment of women in public financial management by connecting women around the world and providing them with independent career support that helps women and future generations of women achieve their full potential.

Join us on 30 November for Women in Public Finance conference, and you'll hear more about creating a successful mentoring scheme, and what it takes to become the leader you want to be.

Some of the sessions you don't want to miss:

  • Examining the role of women across public finance 
  • Thinking strategically: using self-awareness to drive better decision-making  
  • Preparing for success: laying the groundwork to communicate with impact  
  • Leading a change in culture: where do we go from here? 

Explore the agenda and register to attend.


Gillian Fawcett is the founder of Public Finance by Women, the event partner of Women in Public Finance conference.

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