The most effective formal programs help educate men about the need to mentor women and establish guidelines for appropriate behavior.
These programs can be a great way to help normalize the senior man/junior woman model.
Official mentorship programs are not sufficient by themselves and work best when combined with other kinds of development and training.
Deloitte's Leading to WIN Women's Initiative is a good example.
Deloitte had already established a program to support female employees,
who still remained underrepresented at the highest levels of the company.
This prompted Chet Wood, CEO of Deloitte Tax, to ask, "Where are all the women?"
In response, Deloitte launched a leadership development program in 2008.
The program targeted senior women in the tax division who were close to promotion.
The women were assigned sponsors, received executive coaching, shadowed members of the executive committee, and took on global assignments.
Of the twenty-one members of the inaugural group, eighteen have since been promoted.
As helpful as these formal programs can be, they are not always offered,
and in some situations, senior people are not available to give guidance.
The good news is that guidance can come from all levels.
When I first joined Facebook, one of my biggest challenges was setting up the necessary business processes without harming the freewheeling culture.