How a Mentorship Program Impacts Workplace Inclusion 

June 7, 2022 | Maureen Frank

A structured mentorship program can be of huge help to your diverse employees.  

It can train women and minorities to feel supported as they face the challenges of working in a diverse organisation. Following the right mentorship program can result in participants feeling more confident and satisfied with their jobs.  

Moreover, a study found that 32% of minorities found their mentoring relationship to be ‘extremely important’ to them.  

Mentorship plays a big role in organisations looking to boost inclusion, develop talent, and build a progressive culture.  

A structured mentorship program is the key to success.

So, what exactly is a structured mentorship program? 

A structured mentoring program is a program that creates relationships between mentors and mentees by removing the unknowns.

These relationships are there to:

  • Support to diverse employees
  • Lend a listening ear
  • Encourage teamwork
  • Increase the visibility of issues related to diversity, and
  • Develop the careers of diverse employees.  

Let’s look at some ways a structured mentoring program can operate: 

Reverse mentoring 

Mentoring is not just about a senior leader coaching a junior executive. It can be the other way round.  

A structured mentorship program makes it possible for senior managers and leaders to learn from others; often referred to as a ‘flat’ management structure when mentoring.  

In this way senior leaders benefit from the experiences, knowledge and ideas of their diverse junior employees. While giving junior employees a chance to express themselves freely and bring their unique differences to the forefront.  

Promote diverse employees 

A mentorship program provides support to diverse employees to further their careers and ideas at the workplace.  

Mentors can leverage their authority and influence to help advance the careers of diverse, underrepresented employees. This can be through both informal and formal sponsorship activities, and in both ways, diverse employees benefit. 

Build ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) 

Mentoring helps in building employee resource groups across the organisation.  

An ERG is a group of diverse employees who come together on the basis of their differences. ERGs can be formed for women, or employees with different sexual orientations. The coming together of these employees gives them a voice, and the opportunity to work on the basis of their common ground.  

Use an external coach 

When a program is facilitated by an external coach, they can help catalyse the mentoring relationships across the organisation.  

This format works well to help develop key mentoring relationships internally, as well as guide both the mentor and mentee on how to take things forward.  

The link between mentorship and workplace inclusion 

We’ve discussed the different mentoring models and benefits to those individuals involved, but what about the organisation? 

Why should an organisation invest in a mentoring program at all?  

With many different mentorship models, what are the benefits to the organisation?  

Catalyse cross functional relationships 

Mentoring relationships can be formed across the organisation. You may have a mentee working in the finance department being mentored by someone in marketing, catalysing cross functional relationships and a transfer of knowledge.  

Both the mentor and mentee get to see things from a different angle if it’s a cross functional relationship, leading to a growth of perspectives and relationship development. 

Develop leaders of the future 

A structured mentoring program plays a critically important role in developing leaders of the future. 

Although we would hope that our leaders can lead, what we want are leaders who are inclusive of difference and are comfortable with getting vulnerable with their staff. When we communicate as one team we are all working towards the same goal. 

With the right mentoring program in place, managers are supported to become leaders capable of leveraging diversity. 

Boost bottom line revenue 

An organisation with a mentorship program is more likely to leverage diversity fruitfully, than one that doesn’t.  

Research tells us time and time again that when inclusive behaviours are sustained, staff are more productive, innovative, engaged, collaborative, and psychologically safe. 

And when this occurs on an ongoing basis, an organisation sees the impact on their revenue. 

Don’t forget the data 

As with any other initiative or program, your organisation must measure the data in order to determine the return on investment. 

And when you choose a mentorship program that focuses on inclusive behaviours, and supporting mentors and mentees through a structured approach, the data becomes easier to identify and capture.  

Structured mentoring programs allow organisations to answer questions like:  

  • How many women, people of colour, or other minority groups, within your organisation got promoted after the program?  
  • Are your diverse employees reporting an increase in work satisfaction levels after the program?  
  • What do our attrition numbers look like after rolling out the program across the organisation?  
  • What anecdotes are our leaders sharing that indicate an increase in psychological safety and wellness at our organisation?  

Choose an inclusive and diversity coach 

Leverage the knowledge and experience of an inclusion and diversity coach in this field.  

For instance, at Emberin, our structured inclusive workplace mentoring program, has 35,000 participants worldwide, and has achieved significant results for our clients. We know what it takes to boost inclusion at the workplace, and so, engaging our services will help you benefit from our experience. 

We recommend you start by improving the ability of the women in your organisation to develop and advance their core personal and professional skills.  

Get in touch with us today to talk about our women’s mentorship program to start making radical changes at your organisation. 

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