Mentorship in itself can be an uncomfortable, contrived concept for many people, not least because it appears to be fundamentally one-sided. The idea of entering into a relationship whereby one party is entirely reliant on the other for guidance, advice and time without obviously reciprocating seems almost against the rules of business. But mentoring is important because it works. As research by Becky Wai-Ling Packard, a professor of Psychology and Education at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, found, students who receive mentorship are more likely to stay in STEM degree courses. However, for women and minorities, and minority women, mentorship is even more critical because it encourages and assists them to further their professions. This is especially important in an industry like construction where they may not see themselves represented in leadership roles. Let's take a look at some tips and best practices for mentorship and how they can help women, minorities and minority women in the construction industry. Find The Right Person for the Right Role Michael Riscica suggests that you should have a mentor for your career, entrepreneurship, relationships, marketing, financing, politics and health as it's unlikely that one person would ever be able to fulfill expertise in every one of these areas. It's true that a mentee needs the right mentor for the right role. If you're a woman, a minority or a minority woman, you may find that you need a mentor who is a woman, a minority or a minority woman because they understand the challenges you face. As A'Lelia Bundles, journalist and great-great-granddaughter of Madam C.J. Walker reiterates, "If a CEO takes an interest in you and he happens to be an Asian man, then that's great, but as an African-American woman, you want to make sure that if the executive vice-president of the company is an African-American woman that you get to know her." Remember That Mentorship Is a Never-Ending Process PullQuote-0301A mentee should always be on the lookout for mentors. Often the very best mentors are those only slightly further along in their career who are therefore more easily accessible. You shouldn't just look for mentors at the start of your career — we are all always changing and learning, and opportunities for growth are in front of us every step of the way. And yet if you are a woman or a minority, you may have some difficulty accessing mentors at any stage because there simply are not enough women and minorities in leadership positions. If this is the case, it's best to have an open and honest discussion with your manager. Regardless of their age, gender or position, you can find your mentor right in front of you. Tim Kenny, the Director of Marketing and IT at McCall Handling says, "Our managers meet up with our employees on a weekly basis to introduce them to industry contacts and local groups they can join." That's the kind of open and collaborative team culture you want to join. If you're further along in your career, a complicating factor can be that influence and leadership comes from areas you might not have considered. For example, people who hold multiple board seats tend to have a lot of influence over corporate policy at every one of the companies where they act as a board member. A study published in the Academy of Management Journal found that women and minorities make up 28 percent and 22 percent of directors respectively that serve on a single board, but only eight percent and five percent serve on more than one board. However, with the advancement of super-connectivity and globalization, some of the very best mentors can be found online and be a massive inspiration without ever coming face to face with a mentee. Think TED talks, podcasts, YouTube, books and social media. Always Be on the Lookout for Potential Mentees Typically, the higher that minority women climb in their careers, the more they need to break out of their comfort zones. Once you get to the top, you can have a mentality of scarcity that says you need to do anything you can to stay there. Mentees can seem like the competition, and in corporate America, it doesn't help that we have the mentality that there can only be one winner. But on the flip side, women and minorities can be afraid to ask for mentorship. Therefore, it is imperative to always make yourself available to potential mentees who may be interested in advice or guidance. In construction, specifically, mentorship programs are badly needed. With some minor organization, though, you easily set up and manage one. Computer science professor, Juan Gilbert remembers how he was the only black person in his Ph.D. course and has since gone on to supervise 18 doctoral students, over 50 master's students and five postdoctoral students — all minorities and or women. This personally led mentorship drive was so successful that at one time over 10 percent of the nation's African American Ph.D. students were studying at Clemson University. We need to prioritize mentoring women and minorities in the construction industry. Both groups have an incredible amount of untapped potential, and you could help encourage further career growth and productivity within your own business with a mentorship program.

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NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.