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Mentoring Best Practices
Published on
September 15, 2021

In the last year, we’ve witnessed some of the largest companies in the world pledge to tackle the issue of overt and systemic racism. In the wake of the George Floyd Murder and subsequent global protests in support of the BLM movement, organizations are going to great lengths to show their renewed commitments to the cause: Prominent sports franchises are removing appropriated logos, product branding from the overtly racist era, and countless corporate pledges of anti-racism. 

Unfortunately, many groups within the BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized communities feel that these efforts are not enough, even hollow. Many companies have yet to follow through on their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals — from black women being tokenized and unrecognized in academia to the disproportionately low number of minorities in executive roles. 

According to researchers in the managerial, human resources, sociological, and psychological fields, there are a few major impediments to building and sustaining DEI in large organizations. 

Impediments to a Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Organization

Surface-level gestures are not the only reason companies fall short of their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. The practice is built around the concept of reactive, short-term solutions. Some companies enact coaching sessions amidst a scandal or legal issues, while others elect to have keynote speakers or week-long seminars. While these interventions improve surface-level survey responses, they are ineffective, even harmful, for long-term impact on DEI. Here are a few of the reasons why.  

“What Problem?”

Unsurprisingly, systemic racism, stereotyping, and prejudice are all touchy subjects when addressed within organizations. People are quick to identify widespread issues in other organizations but naturally become hesitant, even hostile, when addressing their own shortcomings. This issue is further complicated because overt discrimination — at least as traditionally conceived — is not common in the modern workplace. Convincing people to address unconscious biases is difficult in less emotionally charged environments, so it’s often more difficult to achieve in the office. 

Education Gap

The variation in historic and lived experiences between different racial groups can cause difficulties in learning about DEI in group settings. Many BIPOC groups and other marginalized communities often feel hesitant during workplace seminars due to the prevalence of stigma, stereotyping, and other forms of bias. At the other end of the spectrum, white employees may feel that they do not need this type of training or feel that race is unimportant to productive relations in the workplace. Both perspectives, among many others, greatly reduce the efficacy of employee education and cohesion initiatives on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Lack of Systemic Adoption

In essence, this refers to companies that don’t prioritize widespread adoption and internalization of DEI initiatives throughout the organizational hierarchy. Oftentimes, boardrooms rely too heavily on immediate feedback from employees instead of setting long-term goals for successful implementation. Your staff may provide glowing feedback and exhibit ideal behavior initially, but if diversity, equity, and inclusion aren’t prioritized long-term, individuals will quickly fall back into their old, problematic behavior patterns.

Some experts believe that poorly-run DEI initiatives may be more harmful to the cause than not having them in the first place. The potential for victimizing, villainizing, and generally disrupting organizational cohesion grows as the quality and duration of initiatives decrease. This inverse relationship may explain why most large and mid-size companies fail to build out and meet their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals. 

Building and Nurturing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Through Mentorship

Experts find that racially diverse firms perform better if they believe their work environment is conducive to learning. An analysis of nearly 500 retail bank branches finds that collective, inclusive interactions regarding issues of racial asymmetry are most effective at creating a productive and enjoyable work environment. But, in order for this to happen, there needs to be a strong sense of trust between employees, managers, and other levels of the organizational hierarchy. This is where mentorship comes into play. 

Across all industries, it’s widely known that mentorship is key to developing professional and personal skills in people. Well designed mentoring programs have a major impact on increasing diversity within traditionally homogenous industries and global enterprises looking to improve representation within leadership.

According to diversity training expert Frank Dobbin, a comprehensive mentoring program is one of the best ways to ensure that managers and executives address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. While some executives and employees are likely to seek out these relationships on their own, many marginalized groups and remote employees do not, and this can slow down the process of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workplace. 

Thankfully, tech innovations are now making it easier for all members of the organizational hierarchy to connect with a mentor they identify and feel comfortable with —including people at remote locations across the globe!

Improving DEI with Mentoring Software

End-to-end mentoring platforms are further breaking down barriers that typically stand in the way of advancing minority employees. By providing a safe, private space for leaders and workers to bond, collaborate, and grow, global enterprises can begin to make their leadership pipeline more inclusive and equitable for employees of diverse backgrounds. Furthermore, it’s now easy for companies to streamline the administrative processes of mentor programs while also housing all important information about milestones and professional development within the same platform. 

If you’re ready to take concrete actions on the diversity, equity, and inclusion front that will improve outcomes for your business and employees, reach out to the experts at MentorCloud today. Our comprehensive mentoring software is currently used by hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, helping break down barriers and create a new generation of united organizations.

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