Melanie McDonagh Melanie McDonagh

The futility of Meghan’s mentoring scheme

(Photo from Archewell)

What, do you reckon you’d get from Princess Eugenie in 40 minutes, always supposing you were a woman trying to return to work, after furlough, or a baby or something? What insight would this amiable royal have to offer the rest of us? Sheryl Sandberg might conceivably have more to say but probably nothing you wouldn’t get from that fascinating book, Lean In, which I haven’t read but have read all about. Or Hilary Clinton? One would welcome her advice on marriage, obviously. Or how about Amanda Gorman, the attractive young woman whose very bad poem was the highlight of the Biden inauguration. Whatever, it wouldn’t be to do with mugging up on the basics, like grammar, before embarking on poetry.

They are, of course, among Meghan’s ‘mentors’ and she’s called in this special favour from her besties as a very special birthday treat. The 40:40, as she’s calling the project, is 40 celebs promising to give 40 minutes of their time to 40 women returning to the workplace. Can you believe it! What’s more, they get their very own T-shirts; can’t wait to see what Edward Enninful makes of his.

A pity that Meghan isn’t one of the mentors herself, really

Mentoring is very much of the moment. Lots of universities, colleges and schools call on their old members to give a helping hand to aspirants in their field. Most usefully, it offers the young person a leg-up in the way of contacts and work experience. But alas, that kind of favour is a bit frowned upon nowadays, because it usually entails a benefit for the already privileged and becomes a way of reinforcing social hierarchy.

The only kind of mentoring that actually works is the kind that never had a label; it just involved working around someone with experience who’s good at the job you are trying to do.

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