Updated: Jul 14, 2021
The increase in organizational interest in developing practice in diversity and inclusion is notable. Leadership can no longer ignore the vocal calls for change to develop and enhance systems that will ensure diversity and inclusion.
Mentoring is an activity that supports employees to develop knowledge and practice around inclusion and can support organizations to increase traction around the diversity and inclusion agenda, both at employee and leadership level.
Mentoring activity is one of the most effective developmental opportunities that an employee can undertake. As organizations increasingly seek ways of better engaging with, and learning from Black and Brown employees, mentoring presents itself as a fantastic learning relationship that benefits both employees and the organization.
Having the appropriate guidance, encouragement, and support of a trusted and experienced mentor provide a mentee with a broad range of personal and professional benefits, which ultimately lead to improved performance in the workplace.
Organizational desire to increase traction around diversity and inclusion, particularly around racial equality, is at an all-time high. Whilst training can present as a useful tool, for increasing knowledge and understanding, mentoring at individual and group level, enables organizations to increase traction around individual skills to enable inclusion.
Mentoring can be a formal or informal relationship established between an experienced, knowledgeable mentor and an inexperienced, or newly hired employee. The purpose of mentoring for diversity and inclusion, is to help an employee quickly absorb the knowledge that supports the organization to develop its values, systems, and behaviours around inclusion.
Mentoring can also be effectively deployed to support an employee who is new to a particular area of work or has areas of responsibility. It supports them to quickly learn the best practice behaviour, and other skills, necessary for success.
Mentoring is a cost-effective and useful way to develop top emerging talent, ensuring that a keen focus on diversity and inclusive practice is built into professional development regimes, early on. For more senior leaders, mentoring enables diversity and inclusion to become a part of leadership skills around diversity and inclusion and helps to embed practice that will inform organizational culture and mindset.
The transfer of essential knowledge and skills, between mentor and mentee is critical for enabling diversity and inclusion within organizational frameworks and for creating a mindset that will enable an inclusive pipeline for future talent. At this senior level, mentoring acts as a strategic enabler, supporting business to develop the skills and attitudes required for organizational success across the diversity and inclusion agenda.
Mentoring for diversity and inclusion helps to enhance the development of inclusive workplace culture, incorporating inclusion as a mindset driven behaviour. There are significant benefits of mentoring for diversity and inclusion, and 8 of the most powerful ones are listed below:
Expose employees to new ideas and ways of thinking that will promote diversity and inclusion within the organization
Support mentees with advice, based on expertise and often lived experience of barriers to inclusion
Support employees with guidance around behavioural and development targets
Increase opportunities for enabling diversity and inclusion across organizational objectives, though enhanced skills and knowledge development.
Develops a culture of professional and personal growth, that will enable the development of an inclusive workplace environment and brand proposition.
Strategical alignment with organizational commitments to diversity and inclusion, that supports both personal and organizational development.
The process acts as an enabler for improving diversity and inclusion objectives around increasing staff morale, through increased organizational outputs and personal performance
Engage retain and develop high performing employees on an equitable level.
Mentoring Adds Value to Objectives and Inclusive Outputs
Considering the usefulness of any tool or activity to authentically embed diversity and inclusion is paramount to a successful program of activity. Whereas training can add value to enable employees to align thinking and behaviours around elements of organizational change, mentoring supports groups and individuals to develop salient skills around inclusive practice.
In addition to adding value on a personal level, mentoring drives success across organizational programs for recruitment, retention, growth, and company mindset. Mentoring, therefore, is a useful yet often underutilized apparatus, within a range of tools for developing inclusive practice and personal skills.
For those companies seeking to reduce bias around race, and design strategies to advance inclusive processes, mentoring can provide opportunities for skills development, as well as networking with different groups of people to inform knowledge, discussion, and enhanced practice.
This supports leaders to minimize the risks of making assumptions and yielding to preconceived ideas around difference.
The Power of Mentoring Relationships
Organizations that are working towards developing inclusive workplaces and addressing issues around systemic racism and bias, would be remiss not to consider mentoring programs, as part of a wider program to embed diversity and inclusion.
Mentoring relationships are powerful. The process of mentoring, and the relationship built over time, support a long-lasting commitment to diversity and inclusive behaviours. It will enhance practice and inform decision-making activities, whilst enabling the transference of practical skills.
Developing an employee mentoring program, alongside a well-considered strategy for organizational change, will support leaders, managers, and future leaders to develop knowledge and skills, to become better able to affect diversity and inclusion in an authentic way.
By offering guidance, and encouragement to early-career employees and future leaders, the mentoring activity is an enabling one, supporting your organization to build diversity and inclusion into the personal development profiles of future leaders.
It allows an organization to identify emerging talent, whilst fostering a culture of growth and inclusive leadership at the top of the organization.
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