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Diversity and Inclusion

5 Simple Steps To Start a Reverse Mentoring Program

The benefits of reverse mentoring are huge. From leadership development and closing generational gaps to using reverse mentoring for diversity and inclusion initiatives, it’s an essential part of your employee growth toolkit.

This type of mentoring pairs senior leaders with junior staff for personal development. Sounds like traditional 1:1 mentoring right? Well, the key difference in reverse mentoring is that the junior person acts as the mentor. They will provide advice and support to their senior colleague.

This is what makes reverse mentoring so powerful. It puts someone new in the driving seat, helping them to gain invaluable experience and impart knowledge and expertise to senior leaders in a structured way.

If you’re ready to transform the development of your people through reverse mentoring, then you’re in the right place. In this guide we’ll take you through 5 simple steps to starting a reverse mentoring program in your organisation.

If you want to learn more about what reverse mentoring means and its benefits, read our guide.

How to start a reverse mentoring program

Step 1: Outline the objective

The first step is to define the purpose of your reverse mentoring program. By identifying which use of reverse mentoring is most critical to your people, you can then outline what success will look like and how to measure it.

For example:

Objective of the program: Digital skills development

Method: The reverse mentoring program will pair junior employees with advanced digital skills with more senior employees that need to improve in this area. The mentors will offer training and support in digital skills the mentees want to develop.

Success: The mentees will have a greater understanding of digital skills by the end of the reverse mentoring program, and increased confidence in discussing technology.

Measure: Surveys and digital literacy tests before and after the program.

Step 2: Design the reverse mentoring program

Once the basics are mapped out, it’s time to work out the details. Here you need to outline:

  • Who will be on the program?
  • Are you selecting participants?
  • How many spaces will be available?
  • Will it be a set length or ongoing?
  • How do people sign up?
  • What is the expected commitment?
  • How will you monitor progress?

The answers to these questions will naturally vary from business to business and depending on the objective of the program. It’s important to be as detailed as possible at this planning stage to help your reverse mentoring program run as smoothly as possible.

Banner advert for our mentoring for diversity and inclusion e-book

Step 3: Recruit mentors and mentees

Depending on whether your program is open (anyone can apply) or closed (selected participants) you’ll be onboarding mentors and mentees differently.

Using mentoring software like Guider makes things easier, as you can simply send out a link for people to sign up and create a profile. Within minutes they can be matched with a mentor/mentee. If you’re doing things manually, this will take a little longer.

You will need to promote the program through your internal communication channels, as well as identify target participants and invite them personally. Remember to communicate the benefits of reverse mentoring and highlight the skills and experience they will gain.

You may need to raise awareness and answer questions such as ‘What is reverse mentoring’ through content, communications campaigns and events.

Step 4: Matching mentors and mentees

An important part of setting up a reverse mentoring program is deciding how you will match the mentors and mentees. This again may vary depending on how many participants there are in the program and how they have been selected.

Typically, matches are made based on the skill set of the mentor and the desired improvement areas of the mentee, as well as personality traits and common interests. Program managers can either do this manually, using spreadsheets and their own intuition of who could make a good match or using mentoring software such as Guider.

The issue with matching mentors and mentees manually is the risk of unconscious bias or favouritism at play. For example, if the person doing the matching knew some participants personally but had never met others, their choice of mentor/mentee could be affected.

Guider uses a matching algorithm to accurately match people with the best-suited mentors for them, removing human bias and supporting inclusivity. This is particularly important if you’re using reverse mentoring for diversity and inclusion purposes.

Read our article on running a productive mentoring session to provide support to your mentors and mentees

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Step 5: Launch and monitor the reverse mentoring program

Once your participants are matched, you can officially launch the program! It’s good to commemorate the launch in some way to make participants feel like they’re part of something and build a sense of community. This will help to increase commitment and maintain momentum as the relationship develops.

In order to get off to a good start, provide support and resources to the mentors and mentees to help them navigate and build their new professional relationships.

Note: this is crucial when the reverse mentoring program is focused on diversity and inclusion. Both mentor and mentee will require training on approaching and discussing uncomfortable topics, empathy, self-awareness, and what to do if the sessions are not going well.

Track how frequently the mentors and mentees are meeting, and develop a sound system for receiving feedback from the participants to know if the program is working towards your desired business objective. As reverse mentoring is very qualitative programs are traditionally difficult to measure, which is where mentoring software again offers great insight and support.

Read our article: How to Measure the Success of Your Mentoring Program

Finally, continue to monitor the progress of the participants and measure the success of the reverse mentoring program against your objective. If you need further reading on how to start a mentoring program, this article is a good read.

By following these steps when setting up your reverse mentoring program, you’re setting yourself up for success! Whether you are looking to improve cultural competency in senior leadership or up-skill in digital technologies, reverse mentoring can help.

Want to learn more about how mentoring software can transform your reverse mentoring programs? Talk to our mentoring guides today! 

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Diversity and Inclusion

How to Improve Diversity and Inclusion With Mentoring

It’s natural that companies want their employees to feel nurtured, valued and supported. But it’s only a successful effort if everybody is feeling that way.

A diverse and inclusive organisation is therefore one that employs and equally supports people of all genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, abilities, ages, backgrounds, appearances, and languages.

There are many ways companies can be actively improving their inclusivity in order to achieve a truly diverse workplace. One of those ways is by using mentoring for diversity and inclusion.

In general, the benefits of mentoring are extensive. But utilising mentoring for diversity and inclusion, you can truly make an impact. In this guide, we’ll talk you through how mentoring can support diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and provide some tips from our learnings here at Guider.

But first…

Why is diversity and inclusion important?

Everybody navigates the world differently. Our characteristics – both physical and personal – affect the way we experience life, resulting in a vast range of perspectives.

In order to best understand anything (be it a problem, a method, or an experience) we need to have as many of these perspectives involved as possible.

Seems intuitive doesn’t it?

Unfortunately not. When managers were asked for factors stopping them implementing diversity, many quoted the worry that too many differing opinions would hamper productivity.

When the reality is, diversity in organisations has been proven time and time again to have a positive impact on innovation and success. When it comes to decision making, diverse teams outperform both individual and non-diverse teams, making better business decisions every time.

Naturally, this positively affects the bottom line. A study by BCG found that companies with diverse management teams make 19% more revenue, showing how D&I is not limited to an HR goal, but is ultimately good for the economy.

We’ve written a guide on Racial Diversity in the Workplace: Boosting Representation in Leadership with actionable tips for businesses to step up and tackle systemic racial inequality

What is diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that diversity and inclusion are different things:

      ️  Diversity is the goal for a workforce to be made up of a broad variety of people.

      ️  Inclusion is a method to ensure everybody is equally factored into that group.

So, despite diversity and inclusion being grouped together, the way to tackle these issues can actually be contradictory.

For example, if you’re looking to run a mentoring program to increase diversity, you may select a particular minority group and pair individuals in that group with mentors in order to achieve a goal. However, this will not be inclusive if you only make the program available to that one group.

This is something to be aware of before you group them together and set up a ‘Diversity and Inclusion Mentoring Program’.

Another pair of key terms is equity and equality. With diversity, equity and inclusion or diversity, equality and inclusion often grouped together you may wonder what these words mean.

       Equality means giving everyone the same opportunities and resources.

       Equity means allocating opportunities and resources so that everyone can achieve the same outcome.

As you can see, these two terms are similar but not the same. Aiming for equity will mean paying greater attention to the way that you allocate your time and resources. This accounts for the systemic inequalities and barriers that exist that cannot be overcome with the same resources.

Find out more about the benefits of embedding mentoring in your diversity and inclusion initiatives with Guider

How to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace through mentoring

Workplace mentoring programs are a great way to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. As we’ve outlined, there are differences between the key terms, so the way you approach setting up your programs will differ depending on who you are trying to support. Let’s look at some examples:

Mentoring programs for diversity

The aim of mentoring programs for diversity is to support and empower minority employees in their careers, developing their skills and network to increase leadership succession.

This typically involves pairing high potential employees from minority groups, with senior management level employees to diversify the talent pipeline within organisations. This is known as reverse mentoring for diversity and inclusion. The other types of mentoring an be used for diversity mentorship programs too, but reverse mentoring is often the most common.

As with starting any mentoring program, businesses looking to implement a diversity mentoring program must first outline the goals. Try and be more specific here than just ‘fostering a culture of diversity’ – perhaps you’re looking to increase employee retention within a minority group, or encourage more black women into leadership roles. Whatever the goal is, define it before starting and understand how you will measure success.

Depending on the goal, size of organisation, and current diversity status, the way the program is set up will differ. In order to avoid the contradiction of a highly-exclusive diversity program, you can make it open but prioritise the under-represented groups that it is aimed to support.

For a full step by step guide to setting up a mentoring program, check out our full guide:

Read our guide: How To Start A Mentoring Program

Mentoring programs for inclusion

Alongside a tailored diversity mentoring program, HR and L&D teams can also run mentoring programs supporting a culture of inclusion. You can utilise your employee resource groups (ERGs) to promote and recruit participants to your program.

A good example of where mentoring for inclusion can have a real impact is age discrimination within the tech industry. 41% of IT and tech workers have witnessed age discrimination in the workplace, and 32% fear losing their roles due to ageism.

In this case, a number of companies have seen great success from reverse mentoring. Younger employees mentoring older employees and supporting them in their learning of digital skills can be hugely beneficial to everyone involved.

In this kind of mentorship, the younger employee will naturally also learn a lot, creating an inclusive culture of learning and development.

By making mentoring an integral part of your company culture, you will naturally foster the sharing of knowledge, aspiration and development amongst all your employees, contributing to a diverse and thriving workplace.

 

Striving to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce should be a number one priority for all businesses.

While external training and courses may have a positive impact, particularly with leadership teams, the best way to enact change is through the people already within the business. This is where diversity and inclusion mentoring can really make an impact.

Mentoring harnesses the people in an organisation to learn and grow together, to share experiences and knowledge, and level up inclusivity in the workplace across the board. That’s why mentoring is such an effective method to support diversity, equity and inclusion in your organisation.

Want to find out how Guider can help? Book a demo now to speak with our team

Categories
Diversity and Inclusion

How to Build Psychological Safety at Work and in Workplace Mentoring

 

Top takeaways: 

  1. Psychological safety is the feeling that there will be no negative consequences from speaking openly, sharing critical information or being vulnerable. It can apply to our personal relationships and at work.
  2. It’s essential in mentoring for creating the right space to learn and grow together, which means taking psychological safety into consideration
  3. You can factor psychological safety into the design of your program by setting clear expectations, providing training, thinking about location and factoring in feedback 

In any relationship, psychological safety and trust are at the core of how and why that relationship works. This is especially true at work and in workplace mentoring. Unfortunately, psychological safety at work is a concept that you’re most likely to come across when you experience a lack of it.

By understanding what it is and how to build it, we can transform our workplaces and mentoring programs. This goes hand in hand with creating inclusive workplaces too, as we need to feel seen, valued and heard to feel included.

Sounds great right? But what is psychological safety in the workplace and how can we build it in mentoring programs?

What is psychological safety in the workplace?

Put simply, psychological safety is the feeling that there will be no negative consequences from speaking openly, sharing critical information or being vulnerable.

In the workplace, this means that employees can freely share their thoughts and ideas without fear of doing harm to their careers. A company or team with good psychological safety is one where everyone feels respected and accepted.

This is particularly important in relationships such as workplace mentoring, in which the purpose is personal growth and development.

When there is a lack of psychological safety, people don’t feel comfortable sharing ideas, expressing themselves or challenging one another. This leads to a loss of innovation and creativity and inhibits learning.

Find out more about embedding mentoring in your HR initiatives with Guider.

What are the benefits of psychological safety at work?

There are wide-ranging benefits to creating psychological safety in your workplace and in your mentoring program. In fact, a multi-year Google study found that the single biggest contributor to successful, high-performing teams was psychological safety.

And this makes sense, given that psychological safety makes people feel included, valued and connected, as well as encouraging people to share ideas openly, which leads to innovation. When we feel valued in our relationships we are much more likely to thrive. This also goes hand in hand with making workplaces more inclusive, as both activities share the same goal.

Further benefits include:

  • Increased confidence
  • Higher levels of trust
  • More room for creativity
  • Increased innovation
  • More engaged and productive teams
  • Improved mental health and lower stress
  • Faster learning and growth

It’s important to remember there are benefits to psychological safety at work for leaders and mentors too! Everyone needs to feel safe to ask questions, try new things and show vulnerability. When this happens, there is more space to build trust and rapport, leading to growth. In leadership, psychological safety is a powerful tool.

In mentoring, psychological safety between the mentor and mentee is essential for creating a space for learning and growth by allowing both parties to feel comfortable sharing and learning. On top of this, mentoring can increase perceptions of workplace psychological safety, making it an invaluable asset to your organisation’s culture.

When people feel psychologically safe in their relationships, the sky is the limit.

What happens when there is a lack of psychological safety?

Unfortunately, many people may have experienced a lack of psychological safety in the workplace, which has lasting impacts on how we feel at work and in new mentorships.

It can lead to:

  • Lack of confidence
  • Inhibited innovation and creativity
  • Culture of fear and blame
  • Stress and poor wellbeing
  • Lack of employee engagement
  • Higher attrition of staff
  • Avoidable mistakes and danger

As you can expect, teams and relationships in which people don’t feel safe to be themselves, share ideas or be vulnerable are detrimental in a number of ways. It can lead to poor morale, employee churn and, in worst cases, employee burnout. This is why it’s important to be aware of creating a culture of psychological safety and pro-actively work to do this.

So, why not implement a mentoring program to increase psychological safety in your workplace? Or factor workplace psychological safety into your existing mentoring program? With some careful consideration, it’s something that you can build into the very fabric of your mentoring experience.

How do I create psychological safety in my mentoring program?

The good news is that you can level up your mentoring program to encourage psychological safety from the start.

Here are our top ways to build psychological safety in your mentoring program:

Set clear expectations

In order to commit to mentoring and open up to learning and growth, participants need to understand the boundaries and expectations of the program.

As a program lead, it’s important to communicate clearly what the aims of the program are, who it’s for, and what’s expected of participants. Make sure everyone is aware that mentoring is a confidential relationship and not related to performance reviews.

Mentoring relies on mentees being more vulnerable, so it’s crucial to remove it from their performance reports and distance it from their line managers, assuring that layer of privacy. Megan Taljaard, Learning and Development Business Partner at ASOS

If there’s a lack of psychological safety in your organisation, you will need to do some groundwork to build trust in the program before asking people to join. To do this you can; run awareness events on mentoring, trial a pilot program, build up a bank of mentoring champions and identify strong senior leaders to spearhead your program.

Provide training

It’s the responsibility of us all to build psychological safety at work. To support this, you can provide both mentors and mentees with resources and training to help them to understand what psychological safety is and how to build it. If you’re using mentoring software such as Guider, resources such as this are built into our mentoring platform’s learning hub.

You can also encourage learning as a mentoring community. For example, bringing together mentors to swap stories and advice can help them to feel comfortable being vulnerable. Admitting we don’t have all the answers can be hard, but vulnerability is an important step in creating a culture of safety and trust.

Here at Guider, our new Learning Hub includes articles and videos on topics such as creating psychological safety and more. We also run training sessions at strategic points throughout programs from kick-off to close, to teach people how to be good mentors and mentees.

Guider mentoring software banner advert including a smiling woman looking at a screen

 

Think about location

Incorporating safe spaces for your mentors and mentees to meet is a great way to reinforce confidentiality. While psychological safety comes down to how people interact, it’s important not to forget how our surroundings can affect how we feel.

For some, speaking in a private room feels like the safest way to ensure confidentiality. Yet for others, a crowded coffee shop is the winner. Offering several dedicated spaces for mentoring is essential for allowing participants to build psychological safety together.

Don’t forget that you can also offer virtual mentoring for remote or hybrid workers and global teams to connect from the place that works best for them.

Read our guide to making virtual mentoring work for more.

Ask for Feedback ✅

Admitting that we don’t have all the answers is a powerful tool in leadership and in building psychological safety at work. This starts with program leads too!

Factoring feedback into your mentoring program will keep you on track. It also shows a willingness to be vulnerable and ask others for input. Role modelling this behaviour in the design of your program shows your mentors and mentees that their feedback is valued and that it’s ok to ask for guidance.

It’s also a vital opportunity to assess whether your program participants have the psychological safety they need to grow. Using surveys at the beginning, middle and end of your program, or at regular intervals for an ongoing program, you can check in and make changes as needed.

Cultivating psychological safety in workplace mentoring takes thought and time. In the long term, this can be the single biggest way to ensure the success of your mentoring program and your workplace culture in general. By understanding psychological safety at work and factoring it into the design of your mentoring program, you’ll go a long way toward creating the right environment for your people to make the most of mentoring.

To find out more about how mentoring can supercharge your organisation, book a chat with us today.

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Diversity and Inclusion

Inclusion in the Workplace With Guider People Network

On Thursday 8th September, we held our first in-person Guider People Network event; a fireside session on inclusion in the workplace.

Run by our Community Manager, Danika, the event brought together professionals from a wide range of industries to discuss the key challenges, and solutions, to creating true inclusion at work.

It was a fantastic event. We were so impressed by how engaged everyone was and the ideas that came out of the session. To celebrate, we’ve put together the key learnings from our three fantastic speakers’ fireside conversations.

The Speakers

Priyaneet Kainth, Global DE&I Manager at Haleon 

Our first fireside speaker was Priyaneet Kainth who spoke to us about managing inclusion during periods of transition. She is a strong leader in D&I, delivering the global strategy for Haleon that has advocated and influenced change for those with differences, so their voices are heard.

Marcel De Jonghe, D&I Consultant at Capita 

Marcel De Jonghe, CMgr MCMI spoke to us about creating opportunities for groups who previously haven’t had the chance and privilege. Marcel is a D&I Consultant at Capita, who helps to challenge the norms to ensure that all colleagues have a safe space.

Chloë Gillard, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Manager at Version 1

Chloë Gillard was our final fireside speaker who spoke on how leaders’ roles are key in advocating for diversity and inclusion. Chloë has been working in the D&I space for about 6 years across various sectors and is passionate about the work she does.

Danika introducing the fireside event in front of a welcome slide

The Event

With a great turnout, we welcomed guests before digging straight into a group exercise. Each group was asked to identify key challenges in workplace inclusion that they face or are passionate about, before identifying what can be done about them and how.

As the groups moved around the tables, it was clear that everyone had plenty to say about the challenges and solutions to creating inclusive workplaces. After a networking break, it was time for the fireside chat with our panel of experts.

Below we share the highlights from each speaker’s presentation:

Priyaneet Kainth on ‘Managing Inclusion During Periods of Transition’

First up, we heard from Priyaneet, a DEI professional that transitioned from advocacy work to a full-time role in DEI. From her own experience she’s learned how to navigate the world as someone living with an invisible disability but it’s not always been easy. This is why she is so passionate about her work in DEI and how she can support others.

She kicked off by sharing that, during periods of transition, the first key point is the importance of getting senior sponsorship.

During her personal journey, Priyaneet volunteered to manage the UK disability network in her organisation. This was fulfilling but challenging as she had to push her own passion to management and get them on board. She now works closely to influence senior leaders and get their buy-in in order to drive inclusion.

Priyaneet also recommended mentoring and coaching as key ways to support inclusion during transitions:

“It’s all based on an individual’s values and beliefs on how you move forwards. Our stories are so different and there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s about being inclusive and not judgemental to understand people’s different perspectives.”

This leads to a wider point: it’s in everyone’s interest to work on inclusion, across departments, particularly when managing transitions it’s important to get buy-in from across the business.

As someone that transitioned herself from activist to DEI professional, she’s learned the importance of self-awareness to the process. You need to understand where you are on your journey and where your values and beliefs lie. This means checking your unconscious bias and prejudice, so that you can put your own feelings aside and focus on what’s right for the company.

“DEI is an enabler for our culture, not an add-on, it’s not a nice to have. It needs to be in the DNA of culture.”

She reminded us that we’re making a culture for future generations. You have to learn your company’s culture and values to drive change, instead of relying on your own. Avoiding emotional exhaustion as a DEI leader is important and a valuable lesson.

Thank you to Priyaneet for sharing your expertise with us in an interesting and insightful talk. 

Marcel De Jonghe on ‘Equity and Privilege’

Marcel’s talk focussed on privilege and how this informs equity. He began by defining privilege and asking us all to think about what areas of privilege we each have.

While conversations around privilege can be uncomfortable, particularly if someone misunderstands the conversation as an attack, he reiterated that understanding your privilege is important for seeing how you can help others.

“Privilege is the birth lottery. There are things which you are given that you haven’t asked for. The best way to explain is that it’s an unearned benefit. Some things we can change over a lifetime but for some we can’t.”

Using the metaphor of a hand that you’ve been dealt, Marcel talked us through examples of the different types of privilege we can have.

A graphic of a selection of cards identifying the different types of privilege: white, religious, gender, heterosexual and socioeconomic

Firstly, he reiterated that white privilege is not an attack, it is a fact that white people have privilege in our society and acknowledging this is not shameful. Similarly, we still live in a predominantly Christian, Anglican country, so there is a religious privilege to following this faith over others. We also know that gender privilege grants development opportunities and affects salary, among other things, meaning being born male is a privilege. There are also heterosexual and socioeconomic privileges, to name a few.

A lack of privilege then perpetuates. So, how can you push through the barriers placed around you and how can you change your cards? Well, that’s where privilege can actually help.

By understanding our own cards, we can use them to help others. Marcel told us to look internally, acknowledge our own privilege and understand that we can use that to empower other people. This is in turn means other people can break through barriers.

So, what do you do with this privilege? 

A graphic of how to pay privilege forwards: introductions, sponsorship, participation, education and elephant.

Thank you Marcel for a fascinating talk – we encourage everyone to take a moment to think about what privilege they have in life, and how to pay it forwards. 

Chloë Gillard on ‘How a Leader’s Role in Advocating is Key in D&I’

Our final speaker of the evening, Chloë Gillard, followed on nicely from Marcel’s talk about privilege and delved into a leader’s role in advocating.

Chloë is a global Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging lead for the tech company, Version 1. Her path into this wasn’t through D&I or tech but she began her career in sport and exercise science and, like many people, ‘fell’ into D&I.

Her first point was just that; D&I shouldn’t be something that’s lumped in with HR or one team, it shouldn’t be a niche that you fall into. It should be driven and filtered down across every team within an organisation.

“We might be the owners of D&I but that doesn’t mean the responsibility lies with just us. It is the responsibility of every single person within an organisation and until that’s the case it is not part of the culture.”

Getting company-wide buy-in on this takes a lot of difficult conversations. She said that a big thing as an advocate in D&I is that we have to understand our own privilege to be able to empower the voices of others.

“If you are a true advocate for D&I, you are not the one doing the talking. You’re the one holding the microphone so that others’ voices can be heard.”

This means that as an ally, you haven’t given yourself that label but it’s given to you through the actions that you are willing to take. Chloë also used the analogy that she is the train driver whose job is to keep the train on track. Her message ties in really well with the other speakers and shows how integral self-awareness and understanding your privilege are in D&I.

She then went on to make three key points:

  • That our role is to change the system, not to ask people to change to fit the system. To get that narrative up to the higher echelons of an organisation is really hard, but when it starts to truly filter into people, that’s when change really happens
  • When you start to understand your own privilege you realise that, to walk in someone else’s shoes, you have to take your own off. That level of self-awareness is needed to understand the work you need to do
  • As a D&I leader, your role is to lead from the back in what’s called servant leadership. It’s also important to understand that not everyone is ready to speak yet, but that when they are, it’s your job to ensure the mechanisms are in place to support them to be heard

Finally, Chloë reminded us that we need to embrace disagreement with empathy. We live in a world filled with unique people and D&I is not just a cherry on top but an essential. By leading with empathy we can create inclusive, psychologically safe workplaces.

Thank you Chloë for an engaging and memorable talk. 

We want to say a big thank you to all of our speakers and everyone that attended the first of many in-person events. Thank you to Danika, our Community Manager, for organising such an interesting event. We hope to see you all again soon!

Want to join us? The GPN is open! If you’re interested in joining a community of like-minded professionals across HR, L&D and D&I, then sign-up today

A banner for the Guider People Network to join the community with three people on it.

 

Categories
Diversity and Inclusion

How to Expand Your Diversity and Inclusion Mentoring Program

This July, we ran a special Guider People Network (GPN) session, with a group of our clients from Deloitte, Clyde & Co, and more.

The session brought together program leads to discuss the successes and challenges of their programs, specifically in the area of diversity and inclusion. This was a chance for people to connect with each other, discuss how things are going, problem solve and share advice.

If you missed our GPN session, or are interested in finding out more about how to expand your D&I mentoring program, we’ve put together the key learnings below.

A big thank you to all who attended; Naomi Boachie-Ansah at Clyde & Co, Hannah Rubin and Marne Braddock at PVH, Helen Giblin at Deloitte, and Laura Kernaghan at The Talent Tap. As well as our Community Manager, Danika Patel for hosting another fantastic session and our Customer Success Manager, Holly Bradfield!

What is the GPN?

The Guider People Network is a fast-growing community of engaged professionals working across Learning, HR, L&D, People and Talent. Led by its members, for its members, the GPN focuses on running sessions that build community and allow us to crowd-source learning together.

To find out more about the GPN and how to join head to our community page.

 

How to expand your workplace diversity & inclusion mentoring programs

To introduce the session, Danika talked about the key ways that mentoring programs can support both diversity and inclusion:

How mentoring supports workplace diversity

  • Promotion & retention rates: Mentoring can make people feel valued, seen and that they belong at work, which leads to better retention rates as people want to stay and advance in companies where they thrive.
  • Advocates & sponsors: Mentoring is an excellent gateway to sponsorship and advocacy, where leaders use their influence to advocate for positions, responsibilities and networks.
  • Increasing visibility: A huge challenge for minority employees is that you don’t see people that look like you in roles you aspire to be in. So mentoring can help you to find those people, and guide you to reach those top positions.
  • Personal network: Similarly, mentoring can expand your network and connect you to people in your organisation or industry that you wouldn’t normally have the chance to speak to.

‍How mentoring fosters inclusivity

  • Broadening perspectives: Through connecting people that are different from you regularly, perspectives can be broadened leading to more inclusive mindsets.
  • Cultural competence: For cultural competence to improve in an organisation, people need to talk to one another and learn. Mentoring is a great way to do this.
  • Human-to-human connection: Change comes from human-to-human connection. This is what mentoring is all about and is an area that some inclusion programmes lack.
  • Creating safe spaces: Mentoring is a confidential, safe space for people to build trust and be honest. Safe spaces are important in inclusivity, as it means people can bring their whole selves to work and feel safe and supported doing that.
Banner for the Guider People Network: Join the community

Key learnings on expanding your mentoring programs

To kick off the group discussion, Danika asked Naomi at Clyde & Co to discuss how they’re creating better D&I mentoring programs from the start.

Naomi spoke about how they updated their list of skills and experience areas on the platform for users to enter. Previously, diversity and inclusion had been listed as an option that someone might want mentoring on. Now, Clyde & Co have gone deeper and provided more specific D&I topics such as neurodiversity, gender identity, and parental leave. After all, D&I encompasses a huge range of areas. This gives people more context so they can pick what they’re really looking for.

“For those people that have had harder barriers to overcome, it can be really good to have a mentor who’s had a similar lived experience that can encourage and motivate them, and to see somebody that’s like them in a context higher up.” Naomi Boachie-Anash, Clyde & Co

The Clyde & Co program, is giving people space to bring their whole selves to work so that as they go through the journey of mentorship or sponsorship, diversity and inclusion topics will stay part of the journey. If you only focus on reverse mentorship for diversity and inclusion, the onus is on the person in the underrepresented group to educate others, when actually, by matching with someone with a similar background they can find support themselves too.

An interesting point she made is that in matching mentors and mentees, you can focus more on topics of discussion over skills. This helps pitch mentoring to people as a tool for diversity and inclusion.

Danika asked the group to share further advice on how to promote your D&I mentoring programmes within the company.

Naomi talked about how they tie in their mentoring program with other D&I communications, to promote the program in different ways and contexts. So this means when there are events happening, such as webinars, they can tie messaging around mentoring and cross-promote. It’s important to ask the question across your groups “can mentoring help with that?” This way it’s not two separate initiatives but they are seen as one.

Helen from Deloitte then spoke about her experience with sponsorship in particular. She said that D&I is interwoven into the fabric of the sponsorship programs they run, and that seems to be working well. Separate programs can really put people off.

They’ve been using sponsorship to tackle racial and gender diversity in senior leadership in particular, with ambitious goals to promote females and ethnic minorities into leadership positions in a two-year period. The program has been successful so far, with 85% matching in just three months.

“The absolute underpinning principle of sponsorship is having a senior advocate in your organisation. It will provide you with visibility, give you the right networking opportunities, and put you on the line to get you the right stretch assignments. We’re investing a lot of focus to achieve something that has never been achieved.” Helen Giblin, Deloitte  

In terms of promotion, they’ve been making sure to sell the benefits on both sides. Sponsorship and mentoring can benefit both sides of the relationship – this is important to ensure a good cohort of senior mentors or sponsors sign up.

At PVH, Hannah told us that they had expected to struggle to get mentors signed up, but found that, because they had an engaged board, it was actually harder to get mentees on the program. While this is unusual, it’s an important point: senior-level buy-in for your programs can really make a difference. If you have key top-level staff on board, this can set a precedent and attract mentors to your program.

The flip side of this is they then had to do more promotion to attract mentees. This was through employee resource group newsletters, events, and cross-company internal communications.

At The Talent Tap, a social mobility charity for young people, Laura said that what they struggled with when launching a program was getting people to see the value of mentoring. They’d assumed it was obvious that it was beneficial. However, the students actually didn’t see the value in the program. Mentors too struggled to know how to support students that don’t know what they need yet. This is a big blocker in their program; helping students to understand mentoring and what they can gain from the experience.

Hannah agreed that people often see mentoring as a good experience in general, but don’t necessarily know what they can get out of it. She advised that they sent triple the emails they had planned to get sign-ups and that pre-communication is incredibly important to build knowledge and awareness. Identify key mentoring champions in your business and ask them to share their personal experience over video or written interviews. People are more likely to resonate with human stories from colleagues than reminders from their HR team.

At the end of the discussion, Hannah spoke about how, even if numbers in your programs are initially small, you’ve still positively impacted those people. Naomi further reassured us that building these programs takes patience and that with every iteration people will become advocates of what you’re doing and get the word out.

While the initial launch can be difficult, it’s worth the effort to see the impact you can have on your diversity and inclusion programs with mentoring.

Thank you everyone for sharing their thoughts, it was another incredibly interesting and thought-provoking session. To join the GPN head to our website or get in touch with Danika directly

We look forward to seeing you soon!

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Diversity and Inclusion

How to Avoid Rainbow-Washing This Pride Month

Every June we see the same conversation playing out: large corporations sponsor floats and change their logos to rainbow colours for Pride month. Then, inevitably, a handful of companies are called out for making a show of Pride without offering any tangible support to LGBTQ+ communities, or their own LGBTQ+ employees.

This is what’s known as rainbow-washing.

There’s an ongoing debate around rainbow-washing itself. For some, it’s positive that LGBTQ+ people are now included in corporate culture – which hasn’t always been the case. And ultimately, these companies are geared around making money, which Pride does. The ‘Pink Pound’ is worth an estimated £6 billion to the UK economy each year. It’s to be expected that supporting Pride comes with an alternate agenda for large corporates.

Yet, getting it wrong can be costly. Pride is not only a celebration but an annual reminder of how far the rights of LGBTQ+ people have come, and what still needs to be fought for. It’s important to distinguish between celebrating Pride for marketing only and making a real statement about what your organisation stands for. For many, rainbow-washing is taking away from the very real need for LGBTQ+ to celebrate, campaign and raise awareness of the issues that face their communities.

No one wants to be accused of rainbow-washing, particularly if your intention was well-meaning. So, what can you do to provide tangible support to LGBTQ+ colleagues?

Graphic showing a hand in a fist shape and the definition of rainbow-washing: the act of using Pride colours to indicate progressive support for LGBTQ+ communities, without providing tangible support to those people.

The stats: LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace

For all the support that Pride receives each year, LGBTQ+ inclusion still falls short in the workplace. Let’s start by looking at the stats.

In the UK, more than a third of people have hidden that they are LGBTQ+ at work for fear of discrimination, 2 in 5 bi people are not out at work, and, shockingly, 1 in 10 BAME LGBTQ+ employees have been physically attacked at work by customers or colleagues.

Furthermore, around 40% of LGBT+ staff feel their organisation’s policies are inadequate, and a significant minority would not feel confident reporting homophobic or biphobic bullying in the workplace. This has negative effects for employee mental health and wellbeing, and LGBTQ+ staff retention and promotion.

But when inclusion is done right…

Taking the right actions to create a positive, inclusive working environment that specifically supports your LGBTQ+ employees has lasting benefits for your organisation and the people within it.

While Pride events are a great way to publicly signal that your organisation is active in supporting the LGBTQ+ community, you can see that there are very real reasons to go further to support your people to thrive in the workplace.

Ways to make your support for LGBTQ+ colleagues more impactful

The next step is to make sure that your support for LGBTQ+ people is embedded in your company culture. You want to back up your support with tangible, long-lasting efforts to create an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace.

Ask yourself, is your support…

  • Year-round?
  • Measurable?
  • Embedded throughout the company?

Find out more about the benefits of embedding mentoring in your diversity and inclusion initiatives with Guider.

Let’s think beyond the rainbow! Here are 3 top ways to actively create an LGBTQ+ inclusive workplace:

Review your policies: Not as fun as participating in a parade, granted. But reviewing your policies to be inclusive of LGBTQ+ people is essential. Focus on parental leave, pensions and health insurance in particular. Make sure you mention LGBTQ+ groups specifically, so there is no room for misinterpretation.

Mentoring and networks: Visibility in the workplace and a safe place to talk about any issues someone may be facing is a powerful way to foster inclusion. Creating a network or starting a mentoring program that specifically aims to support LGBTQ+ employees, will not only help people feel that they can be out at work if they choose, but can also support career progression and wellbeing.

Reverse mentoring is an amazing way to educate senior leaders on how to support LGBTQ+ people. Read our guide to reverse mentoring here.  

Remember the small things: It’s easy to get caught up in the big picture but the small things matter. Think about introducing pronouns in email signatures, providing unisex toilet facilities, supporting visible LGBTQ+ employees and allies, and getting buy-in from senior leaders on fostering an inclusive culture.

This is just a start: there are so many more ways to make your organisation more inclusive for LGBTQ+ people.

Read more in our article on Making Your Workplace More LGBTQ+ Inclusive here

Rainbow-washing is a complicated issue that sparks debate every year. But supporting your LGBTQ+ employees is not. Everyone deserves to feel safe and valued at work regardless of their gender, sex or sexual orientation.

By creating tangible support systems for LGBTQ+ people working at all levels of your business, you will see people thrive and bring their whole selves to work each day.

And don’t forget, it’s ok to publicly support Pride and show the world what your company stands for. Just make sure that you are consciously backing up your rainbow with tangible support, every day of the year.

If you want to find out more about how you can use mentoring to support LGBTQ+ employees, get in touch with Guider

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Diversity and Inclusion

Retaining Female Talent Amid the Great Resignation

2021 saw record resignations in the US, with 4.5 million workers leaving their jobs in November. The UK is no different: at the end of last year, surveys showed that a quarter of UK workers were planning on quitting in the next few months. It’s clear that the great resignation has not abated.

This isn’t just a buzzword and it isn’t affecting all workers the same. Women have left their jobs at twice the rates of men, leaving female participation in paid work at a 30 year low. This has long-lasting consequences for pay equity, career progression and job security that may never be made up.

Talent retention should already be a top priority for organisations in 2022, but how can you turn the great resignation into the great re-engagement and prevent further dropout of women from the workforce moving forwards?

Let’s find out…

“People are not the most valuable asset in your company. People are your company.” Adam Grant, Organisational Psychologist

Why are more women leaving their jobs than men?

While it is possible to look at pandemic job changes through a positive lens; many people have been inspired to change careers completely and shoot for their dream profession, this isn’t true for everyone.

In fact, many people aren’t actually changing careers but changing jobs within the same industry in search of better pay, more flexibility and better work-life balance. While this is good news for some, the number of job openings is a result of the increased number of women leaving the workforce.

Find out more about how mentoring can support your diversity and inclusion initiatives with Guider

A huge factor in why women are leaving in higher numbers than men is the ever-present burden of childcare and care of elderly relatives that still largely falls on women. In the US, one third of mothers have scaled back or quit their jobs.

Juggling childcare, homeschooling, caring for other relatives and work has taken a huge toll on women worldwide. Deloitte’s women at work global survey showed that 40% of women are listing burnout as their primary driver for finding a new job. This is alongside lack of progression to advance and lack of genuine flexibility as key reasons women are seeking out new jobs.

How can we retain female talent? 

We know the importance of a diverse workforce, one where people feel included and able to bring their whole selves to work. You’ve likely been working hard for years to create a culture of inclusion, particularly when it comes to supporting women at work.

So, what can you do to retain female employees in your workforce and attract top talent at the same time?

  • Provide flexible working: We mean real flexibility. The kind that allows workers to manage childcare and other responsibilities while feeling empowered in their roles. This is a commonly listed factor for women in particular and is a must-do to retain talent in 2022.
  • Foster a sense of belonging: Those that work for inclusive workplaces report higher levels of trust, engagement, better mental health, and career satisfaction. All these factors lead to employee retention. Not only for women but all employees, the culture of your workplace is a big factor in how long you plan to stay.
  • Recognise female talent: There are gendered differences in the way that different people present their successes and achievements that affect women’s ability to progress professionally. Recognising and championing female talent is vital. You can read more on championing women at work here.
  • Create clear career pathways: Lack of career progression is listed as a major factor for those leaving jobs. Creating visible pathways for women in their careers, including transparent structures for pay, promotion and hiring, will incentivise people to stay put. Knowing the path ahead is a powerful way to feel like you’re on track.
  • Ask your people what they need: While there are broad trends in talent retention that can inform retention strategies, nothing beats data from within your workforce. Ask your people what they need to do well in their jobs and what benefits and perks are important to them.

Facilitating Female Leadership Ebook

Can mentoring help? 

Absolutely! How could we talk about female talent retention without mentioning mentoring? It is an excellent way to retain top talent across the board and it can work particularly well for targeting specifically at-risk groups, such as women considering leaving.

The benefits of starting a mentoring program are wide-ranging:

  • Career progression
  • Developing future leaders
  • Supporting mental health
  • Fostering inclusion

As you can see, many of these benefits feed directly into tackling the challenges faced by women in the workplace in 2022. Using a mentoring program, you can create a formal structure of support that will help you to retain female talent and empower women in their careers.

Mentoring programs can also be used to support those returning to work after a break such as maternity leave, easing the transition for new parents.

A good mentoring scheme is also an attractive part of your company’s benefits. It shows commitment to your people, culture and progression, all things that will help you to attract high potential new starters to your organisation. By embedding mentoring in your diversity and inclusion initiatives you can ensure that people are seen, heard and supported, throughout your organisation.

Read more on how mentoring can help you to beat the great resignation here

‍There is no doubt that we have seen a great resignation happening before our eyes. What you do now to retain not only top female talent, but valued employees across the board, will inform the success of your business in years to come.

More than ever, we are scrutinising the way that we work and facing increased pressures that affect the choices available to us in our careers. By adapting to these new challenges and providing vital support to your employees, you can beat the great resignation.

And don’t forget, a mentoring program is an excellent way to do this.

Here at Guider we make mentoring easy and accessible and would love to chat to you about how to implement effective mentoring in your organisation today.

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Diversity and Inclusion

Mentoring for Mental Health: Designing the Right Program for Your Employees

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we want to talk about how you can use mentoring to support mental health and wellbeing at work through thoughtful, user lead design. A well known way to reduce isolation and loneliness at work, mentoring is an excellent addition to your wellbeing at work programs.

As the latest CIPD wellbeing at work survey shows, mental health is the most common focus of wellbeing activity at work and in our post-pandemic workplace, it is more important than ever to create effective support structures for your employees.

How do I design my program effectively?

Mentoring is a powerful way to improve the wellbeing of your people at work. To do this effectively you need to put the needs and goals of your end user right at the heart of your program from inception to implementation.

First and foremost, understanding the objective of the program and who you are trying to help is fundamental to the early stages of design. A successful mentoring program is one that has a clear, achievable goal and that understands not only the motivation of the organisation, but of the participants too.

From the early planning stages, you need to ask yourself who your program is for and seek out their input on how the program is structured. Many mentoring programs fail due to a lack of engagement. Knowing the needs of your end user will help you to design a program fit for purpose that gets your target group on board and engaged.

To find out more read our step by step guide to starting a mentoring program.

What are the benefits of user lead design?

By putting your end user at the heart of your program you can reap a range of benefits, these include:

  • Increase uptake and efficacy
  • Prevent dropout later on
  • Improve program performance
  • Better ROI
  • Help more people access mentoring

At the end of the day, mentoring is about connecting people for personal and professional development. By designing a program around the end user, you will be able to facilitate better engagement with mentoring. This means more positive impact for more participants.

Find out more about embedding mentoring in your diversity and inclusion initiatives with Guider

Best practice:

A key element in planning your program is including your users at several points throughout the process. Below are some key areas to think about from the beginning:

  • Talk to your end user: At the start of the design process, during and after. Gather data through surveys and use this to inform the structure of your program.
  • Challenge your assumptions: Run your planning by colleagues or gain feedback from the user group that can check your plans. Don’t let your assumptions about what people need get in the way of good design.
  • Factor in feedback: You can avoid the dreaded dropout and program fatigue by planning reviews from the start. Gathering feedback at strategic junctures in the program can give you the opportunity to make adjustments.
  • Take what you’ve learned and try again: Running a successful mentoring scheme takes practice. At the end of the program take what you’ve learned and try again!

mentoring and mental health

Example use case: mentoring for mental health

Mentoring for mental health is an excellent example of how user lead design becomes an essential part of running an effective program. Mentoring can reduce isolation and loneliness, lower anxiety and improve self-esteem, all of which have positive impact on our mental wellbeing. The best part? The effects can be felt for both the mentor and the mentee.

At its core, mentoring is about helping someone else by coming together to talk. While it’s important to note that mentoring isn’t therapy, it can form an important pillar in your workplace wellbeing programs.

If you want to genuinely support your employee’s mental health, you’ll need to set up a mentoring program that is accessible to the people you are trying to help. Sounds simple right?

Yet, mental health at work is a complex topic and one that has been stigmatised for a long time. Navigating this pervasive stigma and creating an environment in which people feel safe to seek support in this way can be tricky. This is why understanding the needs of your end user is so important in designing a mentoring program to support in this way.

Here are our top tips on what to think about when designing a program for mental health in particular.

Top tips:

⛔️ Break down barriers to entry 

These will vary depending on who the program is for, but your mentoring program needs to be as easy as possible to join and use.

This is particularly important for mental health, where users may find joining a program overwhelming or need adjustments to help them access support. While you can’t make your program individual for every user you can break down common barriers. Offering support such as virtual mentoring is a great example.

👏 Design for flexibility

For many people consistency and routine are important. However, if you are experiencing mental health problems keeping to a strict schedule can be a challenge and it’s important to acknowledge and accommodate this.

In which case, a program that makes it easy to communicate and rearrange or pause sessions will be key to stopping participants from dropping out completely.

🙌 Carefully consider confidentiality

While a public-facing profile that everyone in your organisation can see fits a mentoring program designed for career progression, where participants want to show off their engagement, this isn’t the case for mental health.

Making sure the privacy of the participants is accounted for from the start creates the right kind of safety for people to seek help with their mental health.


☕️ Think about location

Similarly, think about where and how participants will be accessing mentoring. For some people, talking about difficult topics may feel easier in the comfort of their own home, in which case virtual mentoring is ideal.

For others, a private meeting room in the office or a walking/talking session could work best. Make sure participants know what locations are available for mentoring and how to access them easily.


✅ Get feedback

Before, during and after the program. Feedback is important for understanding what people need, whether a program is working or not and how you can improve moving forward.

Be prepared for things to go wrong or change. Starting an effective mentoring program can be tricky to get right the first time and feedback from users is an invaluable resource.

Remember, these tips can be applied to designing mentoring programs for other purposes too, such as diversity and inclusion programs.

Setting up a mentoring program is a great way to improve employee wellbeing and happiness at work, along with a whole host of other benefits. However, getting it wrong can be costly to both your time and budget, as well affecting your employees.

Increase your chances of mentoring success by paying attention to who you are trying to help. Whether you are supporting mental health or career progression, putting your end user at the heart of your design is essential for creating a program that works.

Why not find out more about how Guider can help you to implement an easy, effective mentoring solution. Talk to us by booking a demo.

Categories
Diversity and Inclusion

5 Mentoring Lessons From Influential Women

As Women’s History Month continues, women across the world and the various spaces they impact have continued to show a commitment to breaking the bias of gender equality.

On International Women’s Day, women in various organizations reflected on the many ways gender inequality shows up in the workplace. One thing is clear, women require more than panels and social media posts. They require actual support to get ahead and systemic change to level the playing field.

One way to support women is through impactful mentoring. A study found that 87 percent of mentors and mentees feel empowered by the relationship and reported greater confidence and career satisfaction. And, it turns out that mentees and mentors are both promoted far more often (5 times and 6 times, respectively) than those employees without mentors. (Source)

Influential women speak on mentoring

Viola Davis

Award winning actress Viola Davis had this to say about Meryl Streep being a mentor –

“Meryl does it all the time. She [gives lessons in confidence] all the time. I think she does it in a way that she doesn’t even understand or think she’s doing it. You know, she just sent me an email, and I was like, ‘That’s perfect.’ She was like, ‘Yes, Viola, now that you’ve just had your vow renewal … this is the best part of your life now. There’s not anything that you don’t know anymore in terms of what’s good and bad out there, so now you can just fly.’ She’s always imparting wisdom like that.” (Source)

Ana Corrales

A business leader and the Chief Operating Officer for Google’s Consumer Hardware business, Ana Corrales also oversees the Google Store and she had this to say about how mentorship helps women in the workplace –

“At 21, I wish I had known that sometimes bending the rules is absolutely necessary to making the exceptional happen….. I’ve met young girls and women who didn’t even consider that they could do a job like mine. This might be because it’s different than what their parents do/expect of them or because it just generally feels inaccessible or intimidating. We need to change that by highlighting the opportunity, and helping continue to develop women once they’re in the field.” (Source)

Jane Fonda

Award-winning American Actress Jane Fonda had this to say about mentoring –

“I think the best advice a mentor could have given me was, ‘Jane, you know you can say no if the script isn’t good.’ I was just so surprised anybody ever wanted me in anything! I didn’t pay enough attention. 

I think the only actor who ever taught me much about life, more than acting, was Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond. Even though I did the movie for my dad, I produced it, who I learned from was Hepburn. I was 45 when I made that movie, and it was she who taught me to be self-conscious. I used to think that was a bad thing, but that means being conscious of the self you project to the public; having a persona, a style, a presence. 

I had none of that. I didn’t know how to dress! When I went onstage for my father at the Oscars, because he was too sick, I couldn’t believe how I looked and how I was dressed. I never paid attention. Hepburn taught me to pay attention and that style is important.” (Source)

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Gale Wichmann

The director of resource and development at Amyris (leaders in synthetic biology), Gale speaks about how mentoring can help bridge the confidence gap –

“I’ll never forget the advice I got from a female mentor who really dedicated herself to helping women at early stages in their careers. It goes to the confidence gap. She said whenever you get a new job, raise, or promotion, look at the comp sheet, say ‘Thank you, that’s nice,’ and then push it back and say, ‘I’m worth more.’ I was shocked that anyone could even think to do that. 

Most women would never dream to do that, and men do it all the time…. This can be hard and scary at first, but after the first few times, you’ll learn that you’re just as qualified as your male peer and can take on challenges without being ‘perfectly prepared’ for them. The good news is that confidence can be learned, and the same studies show that women do get more confident in their jobs as they get more experience, so start early.” (Source)

Kate Huyett

Chief marketing officer at Bombas, Kate speaks about the importance of developing relations with junior and senior colleagues –

“You’re not in it alone! Invest in relationships with peers as well as those more senior and junior to you. I’ve been really conscious about this and as a result, now have a wide—and ever-growing—network of individuals that I can learn from and rely on. 

Over time, they’ve successfully secured a variety of different roles across industries. You don’t have to build this network through networking events—these relationships can be built one-on-one or in small groups as well.

I’m excited to see more women in leadership and the diversity of approaches they bring—we all come from different walks of life and all have something valuable to bring to the table.” (Source)

As the month progresses, if you are part of an organization interested in starting, expanding or structuring a mentoring program, you can download our ‘Facilitating Female Leadership Ebook’ below:

Female Leadership Ebook

 

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Categories
Diversity and Inclusion

Making Your Workplace LGBTQ+ Inclusive

Welcome to Pride Month! Held in annually in June (the month the Stonewall Riots took place in the US in 1969), Pride is a month long celebration for LGBTQ+ people. Through marches and events, Pride is a moment to celebrate how far the rights of LGBTQ+ people have come, and a reminder that there is still much work to be done. Different events are held to raise awareness of and combat prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community while celebrating its many achievements and upholding its diversity.

Find out more about the benefits of embedding mentoring in your diversity and inclusion initiatives with Guider

Pride Month in the UK

2022 marks 50 years of Pride in the UK. To celebrate many organisations will be looking at the history of Pride over the last 50 years and looking forward at what we want to achieve in the next 50 years. The visibility of Pride and the communities formed are so important in providing supporting for people across the world.

LGBTQ+ people often interact within their school, family, and workplace environments without getting the comprehension and the feeling of belonging they need in order to experience safety in society. Anyone who is excluded of such a basic necessity over time will have to surmount more obstacles to be their true self fully. A loving and supportive community helps mental health, and allows individuals to recover and continue to grow into the person they are.

In celebration of Pride month, we’ve put together five simple ways businesses and everyone in the workplace can make LGBTQ+ people feel included, not only for Pride month but every month of the year!

1. Assert and Ask

If an LGBTQ+ person shares with you a personal part of their identity, an employer or mentor should respect and confirm their identity if referring to them by using their correct name, pronouns, honorifics and gendered or non-gendered words.

If you ask someone about their gender identity or pronouns, do so in a manner which is not intrusive or disruptive, but based in confidence and friendship. Leaders should make it a normal practise to express and accept each other’s gender pronouns, so that people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community are not identified or placed in vulnerable situations.

Asana incorporated the addition of gender pronouns into their profile settings, so people have visibility over how their team member’s identify. This is a great example of a business fostering inclusivity. Similarly, LinkedIn have recently added the ability to add pronouns to your profile. Managers and leaders should encourage their teams to do so to promote inclusion within their company.

[Source: Asana]

2. Listen and Trust

When you are presented a chance to know more about the identity of your employee, colleague, or work friend, listen to their story and trust in what they share with you.

There may be a desire to question in order to learn more, but bear in mind how this can come across as interrogative and invalidating. Instead, be accepting and perhaps go and read up on the discussed topic elsewhere. While a LGBTQ+ colleague or friend may be happy to explain things, it’s not the responsibility of the community to educate you.

Know that LGBTQ+ identities are legitimate and genuine, and that individuals holding these self-identities deserve to be believed and respected in their awareness of themselves. Disrespecting their trust in you, or marginalising the individual will just diminish their feelings of safety in the work environment.

This culture of listening, trust and mutual respect will filter down if it is held and advocated for by senior leaders. Any organisation trying to become more LGBTQ+ inclusive need to have a senior leadership team who a bought into this mission. If there is some educating to be done within those teams, prioritise that before trying to implement LGBTQ+ inclusion initiatives as it will have more impact in the long run.

3. Include and Support

An employers’ first commitment should be to do no harm. Keep this in mind in policies and procedures, and in intake documents for LGBTQ+ employees, and recommend using inclusive and supportive terminology.

Making these changes may require employers to de-establish their own social conditioning on gender standards and prejudices to better assess the safety of their workplace. Acknowledging the structural or cultural barriers that may affect LGBTQ+ employees is the first step to making changes that make your workplace more inclusive.

Listen to the LGBTQ+ community and include them in the conversation of how to improve. Before launching any programs aimed at supporting the community, make sure you have involved them in the design process and truly understand different lived experiences within the organisation. Feeling truly heard is essential to an inclusive workplace.

4. Utilise Mentoring

At Guider, we understand the power of mentoring. Mentors listen empathetically and respectfully, offering comfort and security and provide their knowledge and experience in everything from self confidence to leadership. The support received from mentors can be life changing for mentees within the organisation.

For many LGBTQ+ people, the fear of homophobia, rejection, being moved on for promotions and work interviews is still very strong. In reality, gay and lesbian job seekers are 5% less likely than heterosexual applicants with similar skills and experience to be given a job interview (as discovered by András Tilcsik, professor of sociology at Harvard University in his Journal Article “Pride and Prejudice: Employment Discrimination against Openly Gay”).

Mentoring, workers networking groups, workshops, and conferences all go a long way towards being a more welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ employees to work. Employees can also be provided with initiatives such as environment assessments, LGBTQ+ awareness training and workplace community groups.

Read more on diversity and inclusion mentoring here.

LGBTQ+ Inclusive Mentoring

5. Reverse Mentoring

The idea of mentoring is well known to most people. But ‘reverse mentoring’ implies the opposite of this, where the senior leader is mentored by a younger, more novice member of staff.

Reverse mentoring benefits both sides and provides the opportunity for junior members to build relationships with senior employees and benefit from their experience and knowledge, while also trying to give senior staff the chance to learn from junior employees with various skills and knowledge.

In the last 20 years, thousands of companies have embraced policies and procedures designed to improve LGBTQ+ integration, but this remains a significant challenge for several workplaces. Research suggests that younger employees will be most likely to push change in terms of diversity and inclusion in LGBTQ+ in the work environment.

Reverse mentoring for LGBTQ+ integration works by matching senior employees with younger LGBTQ+ staff or allies. Reverse mentoring is one of the key methods recommended to businesses that wish to be more LGBTQ+ friendly. It is suggested not only to help increase senior employees’ understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, but also to improve LGBTQ+ employees’ career development.

Traditional mentoring focuses on developing the junior mentee, but both parties benefit from reverse mentoring. Senior mentees get insightful feedback from younger mentors, which helps them actively change and be more understanding and use their position to enhance the culture of the work environment.

Read: The Complete Guide to Reverse Mentoring

We hope that this guide can support businesses to make their workplace more LGBTQ+ inclusive, so that all employees feel accepted. Because feeling a sense of belonging and empowerment in the workplace is proven to increase performance, loyalty, and happiness.