Diversity Mentoring Programs and Your Organization

April 01, 2015

“You can’t buy diversity, and organizations that continue to embrace this approach will tarnish their brand.” (Forbes 2011)

How Important Are Diversity Mentoring Programs?

There’s no question that the modern workforce is becoming more and more diverse every day. If you want to be able to effectively compete in a global market, you should no longer be questioning if you should promote diversity, but how to do it in the best way possible.

If there is no authenticity in your diversity business strategy, then consumers and employees alike will start to question the authenticity of your organization. When we say “authentic” here we mean something very similar to the concept of “truth in employment” explored in this article on career development culture: that an organization’s actual culture in practice shouldn’t be different from what the organization is saying about it in any of its messaging.

We posited there that talent development was the key to closing the gap between the two. And tellingly, a leading 43% of respondents in this recent Forbes study also cite that “retention and development of talent” was a priority of their diversity and inclusion efforts, and a further 29% cited “developing a robust pipeline of diverse talent” as a priority.

We argue here that diversity mentoring programs are a good way to go about making that priority achievable.

Mentoring For Diversity

Using mentoring for diversity allows you to integrate value and purpose into your organizational culture by recognizing a wide range of knowledge and skills, reaching out to an increasingly diverse clientele, and motivating employees from all backgrounds to perform at their best.

Yes, mentoring for diversity is highly effective in assisting minority employees to network with individuals in your organization who can help them learn and develop skills and progress in their careers.

But it’s important to remember that at the heart of mentoring is two-way communication, learning, and understanding. According to McKinsey, companies with more diverse executive boards enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity. It’s not hard to understand why when you take it in conjunction that fact that 85% of respondents in the Forbes study said that a diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial to encouraging different perspectives and ideas that drive innovation.

Diversity practices in the workplace are something that should be more than just accepted by organizations. They should be fully incorporated into organizational culture for the benefits they provide to your employees and your organization alike.

How Diversity Mentoring Programs Can Affect Your Organization

Remember that each employee has the ability to give a unique contribution to your organization. If you don’t focus on the promotion of that talent management, it could negatively affect your bottom line.

  • Diversity mentoring programs allow diversity to become a means towards a stronger bottom line. Diversity should be seen as something greater than just an organizational strategy. Formal mentoring allows for the creation of diverse relationships and networks that are sustainable over the long term because you want to reach for a diversity that is internally motivated, not mandated. Gallup released a study of over 800 business units representing two industries - retail and hospitality - that found that the gender-diverse business units in the retail company have 14% higher average comparable revenue than less-diverse business units (5.24% vs. 4.58%). Don’t just look to reach the minimum. Go above the standard and employ diversity practices in your organization that will benefit not only your employees, but also your culture, your operations, your customers, and your bottom line.
  • Diversity mentoring programs enable managers to fully utilize the extent of their employees’ potential. Make sure you are taking advantage of the talent that is in your organization. Mentoring programs promote new connections and networks within organizations among all participants – including managers. This allows you to identify talented employees with different social and ethnic backgrounds. Lu Hong and Scott Page researched how groups of diverse problem solvers can outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers. Cut your hiring and onboarding costs by first looking within your organization to fill necessary positions.
  • Diversity mentoring programs encourage employees to follow a career path that benefits both themselves and the culture of their organization. Different organizations require different strategies for development because no workplace functions in the same way. Mentoring allows employees to both teach and learn from each other, facilitating the sharing of constructive experiences and insights that come from within the organization. This, in turn, guides the mentees in their career navigation and allows them to grow within the organization. Mentoring assists diversity practices because it allows for cross-cultural relationships as well as relationships within the same culture or gender, both of which aid in the growth and development of the parties involved.

Attract and retain talent by creating an inclusive work environment. When you use formal mentoring programs, you are facilitating the growth of your employees by engaging them in something that is beneficial on both ends. You have the ability to situate yourself competitively in the ever-changing marketplace by approaching diversity as something more than just an ideal or a mandate – and making it an integral part of your culture.

Learn more about how mentoring training can assist your diversity mentoring program.


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