The role of mentoring in diversity and inclusion
Diversity and inclusion should be at the centre of any thriving workplace culture, but they are often disparate elements. Diversity and inclusion are policies that seek to promote diverse voices within a workspace and ensure these voices are actually heard. It’s a two-part strategy that must include both representation and active participation to be successful. A diverse workforce isn’t an inclusive one if they aren’t playing a key role at every level of your organisation. So how do we ensure that mentoring initiatives don’t simply reinforce the cultural boundaries already in place?
In an increasingly data-driven world where quotas are a focal point, it can be very easy to pay lip-service to the notion of diversity and inclusion. But what if we were to use data to help facilitate inclusion rather than use diversity to meet quotas? Mentoring presents an ideal opportunity for this and can help create a workplace culture that actively values the diversity within your organisation. An effective mentoring program will bring individuals of any age, gender, race or physical health together and drive interactions between them. It has the capacity to break down boundaries and open up your organisation to every voice within it. But mentoring initiatives will only have a transformative impact on workplace culture if the entire organisation has access to them. Mentoring cannot create a diverse and inclusive environment if the same voices from the same backgrounds are communicating with each other. It is imperative that mentoring within your company is adapted to ensure that every employee from any background are actively encouraged to reach out to each other.
When a mentee and mentor are brought together, they have the potential to share knowledge from different perspectives. When these viewpoints are discussed, challenged and implemented, an employee evolves from ‘another member of the team’ to a truly engaged and connected part of the workforce, thus driving innovation and talent. When diversity is set as a core part of an actively inclusive mentoring program, it has the capacity to instil a lasting culture of diversity and inclusion.
When mentoring initiatives are implemented effectively, the net benefits on diversity and inclusion are self-evident: mentoring programs have boosted minority representation at management level from 9% to 24% and increased promotion and retention rates for minorities and women from 15% to 38% source. But we can and need to do more.
A superficially diverse workplace will never maximise its diversity if employees remain in silos. Genuine connections between different individuals in the workplace cannot be formed through forced initiatives. Grasp enables companies to see where the communication barriers lie. It provides complete visibility over silos, ensuring that knowledge is being shared between colleagues rather than withheld. Key collaborations and career-changing connections are allowed to flow organically. When applied correctly, mentoring is an intrinsically diverse and inclusive process; Grasp facilitates this.
A workspace where diverse groups actively influence company strategy isn’t superficially beneficial; it will improve every aspect of your organisation from talent retention to team performance, creativity and engagement. Most importantly, it will help us overcome systemic discrimination in the workplace.