Start a Diversity and Inclusion Mentorship Program with Inclusive Leaders Group’s Guidance

Employees from diverse backgrounds stand to gain a lot from mentorship. And research shows that when workplaces offer formal mentoring programs, 3/4’s of diverse or minority employees opt-in. Organizations should take note. Achieving diversity doesn’t start and stop at equal numbers. To meaningfully support diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace, organizations should start formal mentoring programs.

Mentorship Programs That Can Boost DEI

When deciding which type of mentorship best suits your organization, it’s best to align with the overall objectives of your DEI strategic plan. objectives are clear , various mentoring formats can aid your initiative.

Mentoring Programs for Diversity

The aim of mentoring programs for diversity is to support and empower underrepresented employees (Women, People of Color, etc.) in their careers, developing their skills and network to increase leadership succession.

This typically involves pairing high potential employees from underrepresented minority groups, with senior management level employees to diversify the talent pipeline within organizations. This is known as reverse mentoring for diversity and inclusion. The other types of mentoring can be used for diversity mentorship programs too, but reverse mentoring is often the most effective.

As with starting any mentoring program, businesses looking to implement a diversity mentoring program must first outline the goals. Try and be more specific here than just ‘fostering a culture of diversity’ – perhaps you’re looking to increase employee retention within an underrepresented group or encourage more black women into leadership roles. Whatever the goal is, define it before starting and understand how you will measure success.

Depending on the goal, size of organization, and current diversity status, the way the program is set up will differ. In order to avoid the contradiction of a highly-exclusive diversity program, you can make it open but prioritise the under-represented groups that it is aimed to support.

Mentoring Programs for Inclusion

Alongside a tailored diversity mentoring program, HR, DEI, and L&D teams can also run mentoring programs supporting a culture of inclusion. You can utilize your employee resource groups (ERGs) or business resource groups (BRGs) to promote and recruit participants to your program.

A good example of where mentoring for inclusion will have a real impact is age discrimination within the tech industry. 41% of IT and tech workers have witnessed age discrimination in the workplace, and 32% fear losing their roles due to ageism.

In this case, a number of companies have seen great success from reverse mentoring. Younger employees mentoring older employees and supporting them in their learning of digital skills can be hugely beneficial to everyone involved.

In this kind of mentorship, the younger employee will naturally also learn a lot, creating an inclusive culture of learning and development.

Mentoring Circles

A mentoring circle is a peer-to-peer format that enables employees to find co-workers who have different backgrounds than themselves and share experiences as a group to gain better understanding of interactions within the organization. Many organizations enable this format through employee resource groups (ERGs) or business resource groups (BRGs) that can gather people based on shared identities to build community and networking within those underrepresented groups. Mentoring circles are great ways to remove barriers, confront bias, and build more empathetic relationships across an organization.

By making mentoring an integral part of your company culture, you will naturally foster the sharing of knowledge, aspiration and development amongst all your employees, contributing to a diverse and thriving workplace.