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January 12, 2012January is National Mentoring Month in the United States, an initiative geared for individuals, schools, and businesses to foster relationships between mentors and mentees and increase the number of mentors nationwide. When young people are mentored, they are less likely to drop out of school, use illegal drugs, or abuse alcohol. And in the workplace, mentoring is vital for employee development and advancement so that employees gain skills, feedback, and knowledge about important unwritten workplace rules that are often left for employees to decipher on their own.

In today’s Take 5, we look at the impact of workplace mentorship and its high-powered variant, sponsorship:

- Mentorship benefits pay. Catalyst found that pipeline women who had active mentors in 2008 had achieved 27 percent higher salary growth than pipeline women without mentors.

- Formal mentorship programs are common worldwide. 59 percent of the companies surveyed in the 2010 World Economic Forum report on corporate practices said they offer internally led mentoring and networking programs and 28 percent said they had women-specific programs.

- While formal programs are important, most women and men find their mentors independently. Mentoring: Necessary But Insufficient for Advancement reported that 67 percent of high potential women and men found their mentors on their own.

- Men and women are mentored at equal rates, but men’s mentors are more senior. 62 percent of men had a mentor at the CEO or senior executive level, versus only 52 percent of women with mentors at senior levels. We found that men’s mentors are more senior even after controlling for the level of the mentee.

- High-level mentors are well positioned to act as sponsors—leaders who advocate for their protégés and ensure they’re visible when opportunities arise. Sponsorship can make all the difference: women who had mentors at the top got promoted at the same rate as men who had high-level mentors.

Want to find out more? Check out previous Catalyzing coverage of mentorship and sponsorship, and visit the official website for National Mentoring Month, where you can find out 10 things to do this month to foster mentorship—right now.