Tips for Planning a Diverse Mentoring Program
The United States is becoming more diverse each year. Minority racial groups continue to grow in numbers, while the population of white Americans continues to drop. In fact, it is projected that by the year 2045, the United States will have a non-white majority.
Companies and organizations must respond to the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce. While many groups have instituted diversity training programs within their organizations, it’s important to ensure that leadership is diverse to more accurately reflect the employee base and the nation as a whole.
While there are many benefits to more diverse leadership, increasing mentorship opportunities may be one of the greatest benefits. Diverse mentorship, mentorship by POC (people of color) for POC for example, provides increased opportunities for employees to connect to others with similar backgrounds/experiences, grow their own networks and bolster their careers. While mentorship can occur between individuals without similar backgrounds or experiences, it is still beneficial to have mentorship opportunities with individuals who share certain experiences such as navigating racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.
Groups can facilitate this by not only hiring more diverse leadership, but also planning their own diverse mentoring employee programs. Here are a few tips for planning out a diverse mentoring employee program for your company or organization.
Determine the program’s goals.
Ultimately, it’s crucial to identify what the goals of your diverse mentorship program are prior to implementing the program. The program’s goals should relate directly to improving the experiences and opportunities for diverse employees within your organization.
In order to address many of the specific needs of a diverse workforce, however, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the ways in which systemic oppression (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) impact the workplace and individuals lives. These systems create barriers toward a harmonious and productive workplace for all, directly impacting mentorship and networking. Through acknowledging these systems within your program’s goals, you can begin to address inequities to better create space for growing mentoring and networking for diverse employees.
Find the right facilitators.
When planning a diverse mentorship program, it’s important to recognize that bringing in the right facilitators is key for a successful program. As you begin your search for facilitators make sure to look for individuals or companies that reflect your overall goals. Prioritize facilitators who are socially conscious and center cultural awareness/competence to help reduce cultural misconceptions. These facilitators can be the catalyst that ignites your program in a productive and equitable way.
Plan for the future of the program.
It’s important to recognize that just one session or event is not enough to ensure that diverse mentorship or networking will be sustained. Make sure that you commit to creating a program that will last and continue to grow within your organization.
Consider the following:
How often will the program meet?
How will mentors/mentees keep in contact?
How will the goals of the program extend into the future?
What ways can you or your organization's leadership further support the program?
Through these tips, you can begin to establish a diverse mentorship program within your organization. If you are interested in learning more about diverse mentoring and/or networking, and you live in the Chicago area, check out the POC for POC Enrichment upcoming workshop (under the “Workshop” tab) on October 12th and 13th hosted at Chicago Freedom School. The deadline for signing up is October 9th, so make sure you sign up before then!
Learn more about cultural diversity, inclusivity and humility services by checking out resources and training provided by MCS Chicago.
Contributing Writer: Brittany A. Hamilton
Photo Credit: Christina Morillo