How to leverage mentorship to create a more inclusive workplace

mentoring

By Neeti Jain, Psychology Consultant

Today’s workforce is evolving, and companies are responding to it by offering diversity initiatives that encourage collaboration across demographics. This is all good news, but there’s still a big problem – most diversity initiatives don’t go far enough.

Creating a workplace that includes diverse representation is one part of the process, but shaping an environment where all employees feel inclusive, valued, and supported is the ultimate goal. An inclusive environment is the mechanism to embrace diversity benefits and mentoring is a highly impactful strategy to create an inclusive work culture and meet diversity goals.

In the 1980s, mentorship was looked at as a formal relationship between people of different experience and status levels. In recent decades, mentorship has taken a broader shape – it is the balance between feedback, encouragement, coaching, and most importantly emotional support.

Mentorship is a beneficial partnership where the mentor and mentee are provided a platform to expand their viewpoints and consider new ways of approaching situations. One important goal of mentorship initiatives is to drive meaningful interactions between individuals of different generations, genders, and races. It’s about finding a safe environment in which the mentor and mentee can address some fears, obstacles, prejudices and challenges related to issues of equity and inclusion.

Mentoring initiatives can have a transformative impact on the workplace culture if the whole organisation has access to it. Mentoring cannot foster a diverse and inclusive atmosphere if only limited voices communicate with each other. Every employee in the organisation should be encouraged to develop and nurture a mentoring partnership.

Companies need to make mentoring an integral part of their culture. When people and cultural programs run in perpetuity and with commitment, they become embedded in the company culture. This way, the whole organisation continuously works towards diversity and inclusion development. Upper management and senior leadership will grow in their diversity representation, which will normalise equity and inclusion.

Mentorship comes in different flavours; some emphasise one-to-one relationships and others can highlight a scenario with several employees. Here’s a rundown of the most common mentorship formats to empower diversity, equity, and inclusivity:

  1. Mentoring Circles: Mentoring circle gathers individuals from all levels of an organisation that meet regularly to discuss. The group setting creates a safe mentoring space for all employees to candidly discuss the challenges they face regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, background, or beyond. Mentoring circles enable underrepresented employees to share their experiences with others of similar background or a completely different background, increasing empathetic, interpersonal relationships within an organisation.

 

  1. Career Mentoring: Career mentoring is traditionally a one-to-one relationship wherein senior leaders share their knowledge and expertise. The mentor and mentee outline goals, agree on commitments and hold one another accountable in order to help diverse employees develop within the organisation and ultimately their careers.

 

  1. Reverse Mentoring: Reverse-mentoring programmes provide younger employees with the transparency and recognition that they’re seeking from management. It plays a larger emphasis on younger employees sharing knowledge and expertise in areas like emerging trends and organisational culture that leaders might not be as integrated with day-to-day. Reverse mentoring programmes can be used in order to improve leadership’s understanding of minority issues including those of LGBT and ethnic backgrounds.

 

  1. Buddy Programmes: A buddy programme pairs experienced employees with newer employees. The pairing is meant to make the newer employees feel comfortable in the organisation, build confidence in their new role, and feel included by the senior employees.

 

Remote teams or in-office teams, all employees need to feel safe and secure when it comes to company culture. Mentorship establishes those measures that foster a truly inclusive culture that can be experienced throughout the workforce.

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In Diverse Company believes in the power of mentoring and has created a global reverse mentoring programme Future Workplace that focusses on supporting individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds to succeed and provides a variety of diverse perspectives for everyone globally to interact and share experiences through mentoring relationships and conversations.

We also work with organisations to help them start their mentoring schemes and support them end-to-end to create impactful and inclusive relationships. To secure a free consultation, contact us at info@indiversecompany.com.

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Photo by Canva

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