How a mentoring culture can support inclusion

Diversity and InclusionDuring National Inclusion Week 2020, can you put your hand on your heart and say that, your organisation takes a holistic approach to inclusion? Is it embedded into organisational values, people management practices and employee behaviours? Does your organisation give your employees fair opportunities to contribute and develop?

Let’s explore how using mentoring, role models, networking and communities of practice to support a more holistic approach to inclusion in any organisation.

What are inclusion & diversity in the workplace?

Inclusion is generally defined as the extent to which everyone at work regardless of their background, identity or circumstances, feel valued and supported to succeed at work. It is often lumped together with diversity, which refers to differences within groups e.g. gender, race, sexual orientation, age, disability etc. There has certainly been an increasing focus on both inclusion and diversity in the workplace and things have improved to an extent over the last fifty years.

However, it is disheartening to read that FTSE 100 CEOs in 2018 were more likely to be called Dave or Steve, than be female! (from the CIPD 2018 pay review report) Or from the Green Park (2018) Leadership Report, that if the current rate of progress remains the same, FTSE 100 companies won’t meet targets for BAME board representation until 2066!

What does inclusion look like?

Inclusion in organisations is very much about belonging. People feel they have a voice and are valued for their own unique skills, behaviours and abilities. More inclusive behaviour encourages:

  • Improved employee engagement,
  • A more pleasant, psychologically safer and healthier work environment,
  • More effective performance,
  • Better innovation
  • And less absenteeism.

A win-win situation for all!

So how can you develop a more inclusive working environment?

Developing a mentoring culture comprising the use of role models, utilising formal mentoring relationships and encouraging networks and key communities of practice are all fantastic ways to make people feel as if they belong and that senior leaders in the organisation are supporting an inclusive approach.

Senior leaders need to be visible role models!

An organisation’s leadership need to be living and breathing inclusive practices. They should be role models of inclusive behaviours and practices. Do you need to support your senior leaders to encourage them to communicate and be capable of influencing other people to operate in this way? Perhaps our Diversity Dialogue programme might help?

Use formal mentoring strategically

Through careful briefing and matching, strategic mentoring relationships can link more senior role models to others in the organisation to create more inclusive links.

Or use peer mentoring to encourage employees to cross diversity divides and leave their silos.

Reverse mentoring is a very popular way to change thinking and cultures currently. Matching senior leaders with individuals from very different backgrounds creates opportunities for real learning within the organisation. This supports more engagement, feeling of belonging by the mentor, education about diversity and culture change!

Networking and communities of practice

Networks can tend to bring people together who are similar. So they can be useful for marginalised groups to support each other. However, developing communities of practice around certain areas of business knowledge or engagement are a fantastic way to bring very different people together who share an enthusiasm or passion for developing a particular specialism. You can also create mentoring relationships within a community of practice. Perhaps linking someone in the core of the community with someone on the periphery. Great for knowledge transfer as well as supporting your inclusion policy!

There are numerous ways to use more formal developmental dialogues to increase inclusion and develop your learning and mentoring culture. So come and talk to us about how you can design the right solution for your organisation.

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