Why we promote the professional development of women

"MentorMe" is a successful professional mentoring program for women, and ING Germany enables 100 women from all over Germany to participate free of charge. Why do we do this? “Because we have a social responsibility,” says Sabine in our interview with her.

MentorMe is a mentoring program specifically for women. How does it work exactly? What’s the idea behind it?

Sabine: The program is interesting for all women who want to develop their careers. It doesn't matter whether they’re just starting out in their professional life or are already mid-career. Based on the mentee's individual story, a suitable mentor is chosen from a pool of over 3,000 mentors from various industries –  including ING employees. In any case, the mentee always has the final say in the selection process, because it all comes down to finding the right chemistry. 

In regular sessions, the mentee then benefits from the mentor’s expertise and network for a year. Plus, "MentorMe" offers intensive online training and more than 220 events per year on relevant career topics. In addition to the professional input, participants benefit greatly from the networking and gaining new perspectives. The program is rounded off with access to a large network of potential new contacts and an exclusive online community – providing optimal conditions for participants to expand their own network and get advice on overcoming personal hurdles. 

Why does ING support 100 scholarships?

As a bank, we take social responsibility seriously. This includes supporting non-profit organizations, but also programs that contribute to financial health and an inclusive economy: one in which everyone has the opportunity and ability to participate. 

Women are still all too often disadvantaged in professional life – and thus also in financial terms, even if they are well educated. Behind the hard facts and figures, such as lower salaries or poorer career opportunities compared to male colleagues, a major problem lies in how women perceive themselves or how they are shaped by society. We believe that girls are still often raised to be reserved. This means they actually get in their own way when it comes to career development. Because they may not have the same confidence in themselves and their own abilities, or they apply themselves differently than a man would. To empower change and ensure a future-proof employment of women, changing one's own mindset is extremely important – for women and men. What can help with this? Quite clearly: learning from successful role models! This will trigger a chain reaction, because the more women are empowered, the more we can change the "male system" in the future – to one in which everyone has their place, regardless of gender. 

In 2021, we started small with just three scholarships for ING colleagues. In 2022, we then scaled up and awarded 20 scholarships for women in challenging situations. The feedback from the mentees after completing the program really showed the enormous impact that mentoring can have. Almost all of the participants were able to position themselves better within the company. Some of the mentees stated that they prepared intensively for change and found a new job as a result. This feedback has encouraged us to expand the program in 2023 and now award 100 scholarships. 

What principles are used to select the mentees who receive the scholarship?

Applicants are interviewed in detail about their current situation. This helps us assess whether they fit our eligibility criteria. We primarily support women who have a more difficult time on the job market due to their personal circumstances, such as mothers, women of color, immigrants or people with disabilities. It’s of secondary importance whether someone is looking for a new job, wants to change professionally or just aims to tackle problems in their current work environment. What’s important for us is to support people exactly where there is a need. Their own will to change something is also key. Mentoring is only helpful if the mentee takes an active role. 

You say we have a social responsibility. Can you explain that a bit more? How do we fulfill this responsibility with 100 scholarships for MentorMe?

The 100 scholarships provide an initial impetus to get the ball rolling. Every mentee who then succeeds in overcoming her personal hurdles and developing herself further becomes an inspiration for women in her circle to take their professional development into their own hands. Person by person, this is how social change becomes a reality.

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