Creating inspiring intergenerational spaces

Bringing older and younger workers together as mentors/mentees can result in mutually beneficial relationships, says researcher Molly Dawson.


The different generations are often pitted against each other these days, but what if they came together and drew on each other’s strengths? Molly Dawson has seen the value in this in the small organisation she used to direct, Muslim Women Connect, and she brings that knowledge to her current work as a trustee for the Young Women’s Trust and as a research for the charity UK Youth.

Her role as a trustee – which she does on a part-time, voluntary basis – came about as a result of a training programme Molly went on which aimed to diversity the trustee pool. She spent a year shadowing a board and was assigned a mentor. She says it gave her confidence to apply for a proper trustee role and a huge opportunity to learn. Young Women’s Trust, which works with women aged 18 to 30, was looking to have some young female trustees on their board and Molly saw their advertisement. She was interviewed by an age-diverse panel and felt the Trust was an organisation that was really walking the talk.

Molly is involved in particular in discussions about the Trust’s strategy and planning, its equality, diversity and inclusion [EDI] work and fundraising efforts. She says the whole experience of being a trustee has stretched her and made her more confident about speaking up.

A broken rung

Molly feels young women often represent “a broken rung” on the career ladder to progression and that it is important to support them from the beginning of their career, for instance, through access to mentorship and advocates. “The degree of discrimination they are facing is pretty shocking,” she says. That includes the assumption that they will go off and have children. Molly is therefore very happy to be part of one of the many organisations which are trying to do something about it and to open doors to young women.

She says she learned a lot about women helping other women at Muslim Women Connect, a small organisation which she co-directed. It had a mentoring programme, bringing together older and younger women across multiple sectors and helping mentees to win promotions and pay rises or simply encouraging them to keep going.

She says hearing the stories of so many young Muslim women means she brings that perspective and voice to her work with the Young Women’s Trust. “It was a beautiful community generally, a space to be really honest about workplace experiences and the specific challenges Muslim women face and to be championed by older women.  The mentees were equally brilliant. It was a very inspiring space. It cemented for me the power of women coming together to support each other,” says Molly.

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