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Empowering Women in Tech Through Mentorship at Grammarly

Updated on June 3, 2024Team

Driven by team members, Grammarly’s women’s mentorship program supports professional growth and builds community.

Mentorship is a cornerstone of professional growth and development for good reason—the right mentor can help you find community, upskill, advance your career, and navigate the unique challenges of your industry.

Here at Grammarly, we recognized the unique challenges and opportunities that come with navigating a career in technology—especially for women. So, we created a grassroots initiative to help. Through a carefully structured blend of support, guidance, and community building, we created a space where women in tech at Grammarly can connect, grow, and thrive. In this post, we’ll touch on the origins, design, and impact of our initiative.

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How it started

The journey began at a lunch-and-learn session for Grammarly’s Women in Tech community. Conversations about career aspirations and professional challenges revealed a common thread—an appetite for guidance and a platform for growth tailored to the unique needs of women in the tech space. A mixed group of us, including both individual contributors and people managers, ran with the idea.

To transform this shared vision into action, we created a mentorship program that was by team members for team members. The program’s structure, spanning a four-month mentor-mentee engagement, was designed with a few goals in mind: prioritizing women’s professional development and enabling career, network, and community building within Grammarly.

The mentorship program

To ensure the program met our goals and high standards, we prioritized the following decisions:

Meticulous matchmaking

The program’s foundation was the mentor-mentee pairing process. Recognizing that the right match could make all the difference, we used a combination of technology and human insight to pair participants. This wasn’t just about matching job roles or career stages; it was about understanding personalities, professional aspirations, and the unique skills of each participant. The result? Pairings that were not just professionally aligned but personally resonant, paving the way for meaningful connections that extended beyond the program’s formal timeframe.

Structured yet flexible framework

We invested in providing guidance and structure for the mentorship pairs to build from. This included a brief training, resources for mentees to set goals and for mentors to be strong supporters, and suggested conversation starters for each week. We also allowed room for flexibility within the program’s four-month timeframe: Mentors and mentees were encouraged to define their goals based on our suggestions, set their meeting cadence, and explore the areas most relevant to their growth. This balance allowed each pairing to tailor the experience to their needs, making the mentorship journey as impactful as possible without requiring the pairs to figure out the entire process from scratch.

Feedback loops

Central to the program’s design were pre- and post-program surveys. These tools are not just administrative checkboxes but vital feedback mechanisms that informed the program’s evolution and tracked the mentees’ growth. From gauging initial expectations to measuring outcomes, these surveys enabled mentees to assess their progress and reflect on their experience.The culmination of the mentorship program didn’t mark the end of the journey but the beginning of its evolution. We looked at the feedback collected through surveys not only to understand our wins but also to incorporate what we learned into planning for future iterations.

Thanks to careful planning, endorsement, and support from the directors and executives who helped promote the program, and the enthusiasm and investment of the mentors and mentees, these promising building blocks stacked up into a meaningful mentorship program.

Impact and outcomes

The inaugural run of the program featured sixteen mentor/mentee pairs and three peer coaching pairs. Eighteen of the nineteen pairings completed the program, and they shared both anecdotally and in their exit surveys that the program meaningfully impacted them. Even mentees who were initially unsure about the program found the experience rewarding.

One participant notably mentioned that “the program introduced me to a colleague I would not have met otherwise and provided us with a structure to keep the conversation going.” Beyond just conversation, this participant “came out of every meeting with one or two action items” that they later implemented, ultimately reflecting that their “discussion about setting up successful cross-team collaboration has completely changed [their] approach!”

Based on the program’s impact and participant stories like these, we reflected that we wanted to expand the program. And that, perhaps, is the most exciting indicator of the program’s success: It’s getting a second iteration based on the positive outcome of the first.

Looking forward

As the team gears up for the next iteration of the mentorship program, the goal is to have even more participants. We’re leveraging learnings and feedback from participants to make the program even more engaging and effective, with additions like one-to-many mentoring and peer mentorship groups for mentees with similar goals. We will also double down on the building blocks that made the program successful in the first place: matching the right people, establishing a clear and flexible structure, and creating strong feedback loops.

We’re also looking forward to creating a mentorship program template that will enable other groups within the company to run their own mentorship programs. That way, this small group can maintain its focus on women in engineering, while other groups can tailor the mentorship program to their specific needs and take advantage of our findings.

We are proud of the program’s participation and impact. Given the group’s informal start and the broad mix of seniority levels, it was exciting to create significant support for women’s professional growth and inclusion at Grammarly. And getting to do it again is even more exciting. If our journey resonates with you or sounds like something you would like to be a part of, then we have good news—we’re hiring! Check out our Careers page to learn more.

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