UK women’s network The Second Source, originally set up to tackle sexual harassment in the media industry, started up its mentoring scheme this month.
The programme is aimed at women, those who identify as women, and non-binary people, and has so far paired up 100 mentors with mentees.
The Second Source wanted to help people who feel under-represented, experience workplace bullying, don’t know how to progress in their career or who struggle with their income. Particular focus was placed on people from minority groups and on those who experience difficulties with mental or physical health.
As well as offering development advice, the mentors provide personal support and encouragement women may not feel confident enough to ask for, said Louise Ridley, a freelance journalist who has worked for HuffPost UK and BuzzFeed UK.
"We tried to match people as carefully as possible. For example, we would match pregnant women with mentors who recently came back from maternity leave.”
The same applies to women from different socio-economic or racial backgrounds, or journalists who write about the same subject to facilitate the interaction.
"That's what mentoring is about,” Ridley told Journalism.co.uk. “It's having that person talk to you. And hopefully mentors will gain a lot from connecting with the mentee as well, it's not a one-sided relationship."
Most mentees are in their twenties, while a number of mentors are in their thirties so there is not a big age gap between them.
The mentoring program will run for one year with a minimum of four face-to-face meetings.
Ridley said a lot of those who applied were the only women in their teams and found it hard to have a role model.
Sometimes they got talked down to by men on their teams who were older or more experienced.
"We had people applying from BAME backgrounds who also felt under-represented in their workplace when there were not enough senior people who were not white, which they found challenging.”
Other mentees had financial concerns despite being in senior roles, or were finding it difficult to survive as freelancers due to the lack of a stable income.
The scheme was aimed at anyone with less than five years of experience in journalism, but applications from journalists who were very much still at the beginning of their careers were also considered.
"So rather than just rewarding experience, we were looking to help women we felt we could help,” said Ridley.
“We wanted to support those who don't have enough experience or perhaps lack in direction or had a difficult time in the workplace.”
The scheme is supported by mentors from the BBC, The Times, Channel 4 News, the Daily Mail, The Sun, The Guardian, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Overtake, Quartz, Financial Times, Politics Home, Vice, Newsweek, The Telegraph, The Evening Standard, Trinity Mirror, HuffPost UK, Washington Post and many other news organisations.
If you want to be involved in the scheme next year, or if you seek support in your career, you can reach out to Second Source on Twitter at @the2ndsource or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The programme is not currently funded and everyone works on a voluntary basis.
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