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Posted November 11, 2016 by

Workplace mentoring: part of your inclusion strategy

Mentor coaching two employeesIn a scramble to create more inclusive workplaces, many companies have implemented mentoring programs. The programs live in the Diversity and Inclusion space because often, minorities and women benefit the most from having a mentor. Research by Catalyst has found that female employees with mentors increase their salaries by 27% compared to women who do not have a mentor. Having mentors, says Kerry Stakem at PricewaterhouseCoopers, is “like having your own board of directors.” Depending on your situation, you seek help from different board members. If you have or want a mentoring program, think through these tips and examples.

Set your objective. “One of the main mistakes many organizations make when starting a mentoring program is not having a goal or program objective,” says Lori Long. Long is a business professor at Baldwin Wallace University who specializes in understanding and promoting effective workplace management. There are four objectives commonly found among mentoring programs, according to research done by APQC. Those are: “the transfer of discipline-specific knowledge; career pathing and counseling; the development of business acumen and soft skills; and the dissemination of “insider knowledge” about an organization’s structure, norms, culture, and professional networks.”

Get everyone involved. Even if your program is intended to help women and minorities catch up to their White male counterparts, you should include all employees in the program. Often companies may only provide the opportunity to participate in the program to certain groups of employees, thus excluding some employees that may really benefit from such a program,” says Long. Plus, given the disproportionate number of White males in senior leadership, you likely need their participation as mentors. It’s a numbers game.

Many companies, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and Boston Consulting Group, assign mentors to all employees. To make a match, organizations may use demographic or personality questionnaires. Lori Long says that one approach is “to host mentoring networking events to allow potential mentors and mentees to meet each other informally.   Then the program can ask mentees to request their preferred mentors. “She believes mentees should make the request. The formality of the networking event can ease the intimidation of asking someone “Will you be my mentor?”

PwC recognizes that not all matches are made in heaven. Employees can change their mentor every year during PwC’s open enrollment. Kerry Stakem, PwC’s Northeast Talent Acquisition Leader, says “If it’s not working then it’s doing neither side any good.” If an employee swaps their mentor for someone who they prefer, their buy-in goes up and participation becomes more voluntary. A voluntary evolution of the mentor-mentee relationship is key. They will naturally build a trusting relationship.

Mentoring can evolve into sponsorship and advocacy. If the mentor-mentee relationship goes well, the mentor can become more of a sponsor. While a mentor can be passively available to guide their mentees’ development, a sponsor is more active. Lori Long says that the “sponsor’s role is much more proactive and can usually have a more significant impact on one’s movement within an organization. “ A mentor is good. Even better is a sponsor, and a real advocate is ideal.

At BCG, Matt Krentz leads the Global People Team. Their mentors, he says, are responsible for tracking their mentee’s engagement and watching for someone in the company who can be a sponsor, and hopefully an advocate. An advocate is someone who more naturally puts themselves on the line for someone else.

It should be reciprocal. Advocates and sponsors should benefit from the relationship too. Employees being advocated for should help their advocates look good. Kerry Stakem says that aside from the warm fuzzies of helping others develop, mentoring others builds her own leadership and listening skills.

One company that is doing this right is Sodexo. They have programs for mentoring women at all levels, from entry-level to senior management. Here’s what they do for their entry-level hires (excerpt from BCG’s recent report, “The Rewards of an Engaged Female Workforce“):

“French food services and facilities management company Sodexo is globally recognized for its commitment to diversity. …Sodexo launched mentorship programs at all levels, many targeting high-potential women and focused on operational roles. For example, promising junior women are offered networking opportunities and exposure to female leaders through virtual webinars. …“It’s a high-touch process,” says Anand, “but that level of people investment is part of our culture.” …Selected employees get matched to senior mentors, who are chosen through a similarly rigorous process and trained in good mentorship practices. The program matches people across business lines to ensure broad exposure for mentees. Most important, it works: women in the program are promoted significantly faster than their peers.”

If your goal is to create a more inclusive workplace, a mentoring program can be part of the solution, but not the whole solution. Inclusion must be a core value and be integrated into the fabric of the organization.

 

lori-longLori Long is a Professor at Baldwin Wallace University and instructs courses in human resources and general management. She holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources through the Human Resource Certification Institute. Lori is also the President of LK Consulting, LLC, a human resource management consulting firm and she is the author of “The Parent’s Guide to Family Friendly Work” (Career Press, 2007). Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

 

kerry-stakem-pricewaterhousecoopersKerry Stakem is the Northeast Market Sourcing Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers with specialties in Assurance, Tax and Advisory Recruiting. She is excited by opportunities to connect people with their passions through her work.  Connect with Kerry on LinkedIn.

 

 

matt-krentz-boston-consulting-groupMatt Krentz joined The Boston Consulting Group in 1983. He is a Chicago based Senior Partner and head of the firm’s Global People Team, which is responsible for attracting, developing, and retaining top talent across all cohorts. He is also a member of BCG’s Executive and Operating Committees, as well as the Consumer and People & Organization practice areas. Connect with Matt on LinkedIn.