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Diversity & Inclusion - Mentoring Program

A focus on diversity and an increasingly multicultural society means that most workplaces have more than one identity group within their ranks. Whether this diversity is in ethnicity, gender or sexuality, the advantages that it brings can often be blocked by a lack of proper integration into the workforce. A mentoring program is an excellent way to make sure that diverse employees acclimate to the company culture.

Goal


To create a mentoring program that helps diverse employees integrate with the workplace.

What is a Mentoring Program?
A mentoring program is a formal arrangement where lower-level employees are matched up with more experienced ones. Once matched, the more experienced mentor acts as a guide for the other, teaching them about professional issues. Other topics that mentors might help with are organizational culture, work goals and even personal life objectives. This type of program can be especially helpful for promoting diversity. A study from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations found that mentoring programs increased minority representation at management levels by 9 to 24 per cent. They also found improved promotion and retention rates for minorities and women in contrast to those without mentors.

How do Mentoring Programs improve employee engagement and culture?
Employees are engaged, motivated and happy when their needs match up with those of the organization. By creating a mentorship program, you are making a commitment to your employees, one that says that you are concerned with their integration to the workplace as well as their continued professional development. Especially important to this form of engagement is the feeling of intrinsic rewards, which refers to the feeling of doing work that is meaningful to personal and professional goals. A mentor program provides this exact sort of intrinsic motivation, while also fostering a bond that benefits both the mentor and their mentee. This leads to engagement for all involved in the program and ultimately acts as an investment back into the organization itself.

What are the benefits?
Shared organizational knowledge
Acclimate diverse employees to the work environment
Professional and leadership development
Foster relationships between mentors and mentees
Increased retention

How do you conduct Mentoring Programs in the workplace?
Generally speaking, there are three broad areas of mentoring. One is peer mentoring which focuses on introducing a new employee to the organizational culture and helping with basic acclimation. The second is career focused mentoring, where the mentor acts as a guide who helps employees meet their professional goals. The last is life coaching, where mentors act as support for the integration of overarching personal and professional objectives. Regardless of the type of mentoring the way they are conducted remains the same. Specifically, this means that employees should be matched up and encouraged to meet regularly while focusing on definite important goals. You should leave mentors and mentees the room for flexible meetings and personal interactions.

Action


Create A Mentoring Program

Create a framework. Define the purpose of the mentoring program clearly. Don’t make the goal something overly general like supporting diversity in the workplace. Instead choose something specific and measurable. For instance, your goal may be to focus on creating more women leaders or increasing minority retention rates, both of which can be tracked to see how well the program is performing. Decide what form of mentoring you want to utilize—the most common is one to one mentoring but there are other options like group mentoring. You should also clarify how long each pairing will last and how often they should meet.

Get company permission and leadership support. Support from the top is critical in getting employees and managers to participate.

Gather a group of potential mentors. Contact those in leadership roles and invite them to the program. Explain to them the benefits and use the number gathered here to determine how many employees can utilize the program. Consider offering incentives to mentors or otherwise recognizing their efforts in a public way.

Promote the program. Use existing company communications channels, physical fliers, word of mouth and email.

Pair mentors and mentees. When enough people have indicated interest start pairing. This step is critical as the pairings are what will determine if the program works for a given person. Deciding on pairings can be difficult. Some options to do so include matching participants based on surveys where both mentors and mentees fill out what they can offer or want to obtain from the program. You can also provide a given mentor or mentee several choices and allow them to make the final decision. Considering available skills and their relevancy to a given mentee is important in deciding on pairing choices.

Encourage regular meetings. Make sure that pairs or groups are meeting on a regular basis. Encourage mentees to reach out and book meetings. A basic format for meetings could start with a preparation phase where expectations and goals are set. This could then proceed to the creation of a specific plan and the support of the mentor in helping to accomplish those goals within the given timeframe. Some specific activities that can be done include role-playing and having mentors watch mentees do a task so that they can provide feedback afterwards.

Encourage sharing. Ask that those involved in the program share their thoughts and feelings with you on the program. Their constructive feedback can be used to adjust the program as needed. It can also be helpful to have a quick checkup after mentoring starts to identify any serious problems or desires to switch mentors early on. As the program runs longer you can publicly disseminate success stories of good pairings.

Reference Material
Improve Workplace Culture With A Strong Mentoring Program

Updated on: 08/18/2023

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