Inclusive Mentoring

Tips to Promote Inclusive Mentoring
Photo by Michael Cline Photography

According to the US Census by 2060 almost 1 in 5 people in the US will be foreign born and 56 of every 100 people will be from what we now consider a minority race or ethnic group. The coming wave of ethnic diversification in the U.S. workforce makes it even more important that companies promote inclusive mentoring.

How can you be sure inclusive mentoring is a part of your company culture?

  • Formal mentoring programs go a long way to ‘leveling’ the playing field and making sure that all talented employees have access to mentorship.
  • Training can help mentors be more aware of ‘unconscious bias’. Although some research suggests that such training can make such biases more accepted rather than rejected!
  • Examine your organization’s mentoring culture. Take a look around your organization – how widely known are professional development opportunities, a chance to take on plum assignments, and mentoring opportunities?
  • Are informal mentoring opportunities equally available? They often occur because of social interactions outside of the workplace or workday.

Tips to Promote Inclusive Mentoring:

  • If your protégés remind you of yourself then consider broadening your scope of influence to include other protégés.
  • Include employees in social activities that have wide appeal rather than inviting employees to social activities that usually attract one gender over another.
  • Ask about differences that are important to your protégé. People tend to share what is important to them about their identity. Ask, “What do you wish I knew about you?”
  • Use ‘help me understand’ language like:

“I want to be able to empathize, but first help me understand how it appears to you/you think about the issue.”

“If I can understand the difference in perspective, I can be more effective in help you deal with the issue.”

“I have something to learn here too.”

  • Check your assumptions about the ability of another person to ‘understand’ your perspective.
  • Apply “See something say something” to mentoring. If you feel a group of people are shut out of mentoring opportunities because of a shared characteristic, then reach out to your human resources office and gently share the observation.
  • Develop peer mentorships* with people who are different than you

Inclusive mentoring is beneficial for at least 3 reasons:

  • It develops a bigger pipeline of talented employees for future leadership positions.
  • It increases employee engagement.
  • It promotes a mentoring culture in your organization.
Categories: Women to Watch