I was recently invited by a prospective client to meet with the mentoring team to discuss diversity and mentoring. Their goal was to use mentoring to promote diversity within the organization in order to promote the advancement of diverse individuals. After an hour of good conversation, it became clear that the organization was not prepared to implement a specific diversity program. The main issue was that the company could not guarantee that people of diversity would be promoted within two years of implementing the program. Since that’s the case, people of diversity would view this as window dressing as opposed to as a serious effort to promote diversity.
There are several key issues when considering mentoring and diversity:
- The purpose has to have results that people can see and that are measurable. The program has to make a real difference in the lives of diverse individuals.
- The organization has to be prepared with diversity information that may be difficult to hear, but that is necessary in order to change the culture.
- Measure the current culture of the organization to ensure that it is ready for that conversation—the one we most often avoid. (We wrote a great article about How to Start a Diversity Conversation in Your Mentoring Program that could help.)
- The organization needs to understand that when a diversity conversation occurs in a trustful and confident relationship, mentors become champions for diversity because they will have had a first hand experience with a diverse individual that makes the issues “real” to the majority individual.
Diversity mentoring programs are powerful and should be implemented within the right context. To not do so is to do a disservice to both mentoring and diversity.
For more information on diversity and mentoring, download our FREE white paper, How to Leverage Your Mentoring Program, below: