Diversity and inclusion are fundamental to business success. Given the fact that technology has allowed us to be more global in working and communicating, this comes as no surprise.
The question is how should companies go about celebrating diversity and creating an inclusive workforce?
Organizations can promote diversity and inclusion through a variety of ways:
- Assigning a designated Diversity & Inclusion Director
- Conducting training and sensitivity classes
- Tying diversity goals to succession planning and retention
- Launching a formal mentoring program
For the purpose of this post, we're going to focus on the concept of mentoring for managing diversity in the workplace.
Let's assume your organization has matched a diverse pair. What will happen next? What sort of benefits can you expect? Keep reading…
1. Both partners have the opportunity to move from the theoretical experience of diversity training to the actual experience of diversity.
We all can feel good about completing diversity training. We may have a better understanding of diversity as a result, but has our behavior truly changed?
In the safety environment of a mentoring relationship, both the mentor and mentoree can honestly discuss issues of diversity and profoundly change by this personal experience. Hearing someone relate their personal experience of bias or lack of opportunity is the most powerful way of understanding how barriers prevent certain groups from achieving the success they deserve.
2. It changes the culture in a subtle, but deep way.
Frequently, mentors are at the highest level of the organization. By hearing a diverse person speak frankly about the real challenges he or she faces in the workplace, the mentor can help effect change since the mentor is most likely in a position—or is connected to people who are in a position—to make changes and remove barriers.
It's one thing to theoretically understand the culture biases in the workplace; it's quite another to fully understand the reality of how these barriers work and what keeps them in place that prevents real change from happening.
3. It promotes a diversity culture beyond the formal mentoring experience.
In most cases, those who are mentored will, in turn, become mentors to others. They will model a similar experience that they had and pay it forward whether by entering the mentoring program as a mentor or by naturally mentoring employees and colleagues as a result.
Not only that, but you can count on most of your current mentors to continue their involvement in the program and to become greater champions of your diversity goals in general.
Thanks to your organization's investment in long-term mentoring, diversity will become a staple of most relationships within the organization over time. In other words, your company's initial mentoring investment has an ongoing lifespan and the benefits will continue for years after the initial investment.
Need some help sorting through all this? We're happy to us. Contact the mentoring experts today.