By Ruth Simeon, M. A., SPHR
An inclusive organization creates a climate in which all groups and individual employees, who are different from the mainstream, feel that they are a part of the life of the organization, rather than outside it (Boags, 2004)
Achieving inclusion and equity requires actions that 1) build relationships among the employees across and through the "Glass Ceiling" and 2) achieve equitable representation of under-represented groups in its leadership pipeline.
One tactic which has the capacity to give these goals the required action is mentoring. Mentoring is a multi-faceted process which when properly implemented can achieve the most elusive of diversity goals - inclusion and equity. Mentoring gives a diversity strategy its "legs."
Numerous studies have shown that women and people-of-color are not part of the more exclusive circle of informal mentoring offered to white males. In the realm of informal or so-called "natural" or spontaneous mentoring, the mentor is usually in the driver's seat - offering this valuable relationship to those employees who tend to be more similar in style, temperament, gender and race. Such mentees form a congenial network and are a part of mentor's comfort zone. Much of the grooming for upward mobility takes place within these circles of sameness. Consequently, each generation of new leaders looks, not surprisingly, like the existing ones.
How Mentoring Benefits Diversity Initiatives
Mentoring provides the missing action link to diversity initiatives through the simple act of bringing people together and teaching them to engage in a reciprocal learning process. The creation of many mentoring partnerships, especially those that are cross-organizational, enriches both the pool of knowledge and the individuals who participate. Mentoring partnerships contribute to a sense of community within an organization and that, in turn, encourages increased knowledge sharing and employee longevity with the company or public agency.
Achieving these goals is what diversity initiatives say they are about. But getting there without an action component capable of driving towards the initiative will not yield the desired outcome. Through its action orientation, mentoring becomes a key and critical component of diversity.
For more information contact Ruth Simeon, Principal Consultant, Improvement Technologies at 323-823-8528 or see some of our tools and processes at MentoringAnalysis.com. Not to be reprinted without permission from the author. Excerpts Mentoring: A Core Strategy for Inclusion and Equity©.