Mentoring continues to be a beneficial leadership tool for ethnically diverse women who are looking to advance their leadership skills or better still source business opportunities for several reasons. It provides:
Greater access to experience and knowledge:
Mentors can provide guidance and advice based on their own experience and knowledge, which can help mentees navigate the challenges of leadership or business opportunities. What mentors don’t do is simply impart wisdom from their own experience without understanding and valuing the mentee’s perspective It’s important that the mentor provides opportunities so they can better uncover the potential within.
Mentoring relationships can provide mentees with increased visibility within their organisation or industry, which can lead to new opportunities for career advancement.
Boosts confidence and motivation:
Mentoring can help build the confidence and skills of mentees, by providing support and feedback on their performance and helping them develop new skills and competencies as they discover new aspects of themselves.
Better positioned to address bias, microaggressions and discrimination:
Mentors can provide a safe and supportive environment for mentees to discuss issues related to bias and discrimination and can offer guidance on how to navigate these challenges. Due to the ‘broken rung’ culture which made it difficult for women and ethnically diverse women to advance within their organisation, scarcity at the top means this is the perfect time to think about formalising your career development in a more structured way to avoid being distracted by bias, microaggressions and discrimination.
Mentoring in action
Managers do play an important role in shaping women’s career development, but this does not mean they have the leadership skills or experience to meet this challenge. That is why there is strong evidence to support the benefits of mentoring for ethnically diverse women outside of the usual management support. For example, a study by Catalyst found that women who had a mentor were more likely to be promoted than those who did not, and that ethnically diverse minority employees who had a mentor were more likely to feel supported and included in their organisation.
An example of the benefits of mentoring for diversity and inclusion might involve a company that has established a formal mentoring programme for ethnically diverse women. The programme might provide ethnically diverse mentors from business/senior levels within organisations, who can offer guidance and support to mentees on issues such as career development, leadership skills, and navigating bias and discrimination. Effective mentoring promotes inclusion and potential to excel in leadership roles.
The benefits of mentoring for equity, diversity and inclusion include improved representation of ethnically diverse women in leadership roles, increased engagement, and retention of diverse employees, and improved organisational culture and reputation.
However, there are also potential drawbacks to mentoring programme, such as the potential for mentors to perpetuate bias or for mentees to feel pressure to conform to the expectations of their mentor. It is important for mentoring programmes to be designed and implemented in a way that addresses these concerns and promotes equity and inclusion for all participants.