Level the mentorship playing field to support diverse talent

Level the mentorship playing field to support diverse talent

By Brendon Buckler

The Ascend CIO (Chief Inclusion Officer) Forum, recently gathered Canada’s top executives, alongside special guest Dave Wilkin, Co-Founder and CEO of Ten Thousand Coffees (10KC), for a lively discussion on the importance of networks and mentorship in advancing the careers of diverse talent and corporate DEI goals.

The CIO Forum members discussed the role that mentorship plays in supporting employee engagement, promotion and retention, especially in hybrid workplaces. “It’s not a fair playing field,” Dave said, while noting intersectionality, bias, and many other factors. He noted that many companies leave mentorship matching up to “Career Cupids” and that despite being well-intentioned, these manual processes contain inherent biases that companies are trying to avoid. It is only by creating formal mentoring programs using technology like the 10KC platform, the organization can effectively drive the dial on their DEI mandates. He also added:

  • 61% of workers say they feel less connected to their coworkers; a sense of belonging decreases turnover risk by 50%.
  • 77% of people surveyed said building close relationships with colleagues was the most important factor in determining job satisfaction.
  • Networks are a 5x better predictor of performance than education.
  • Representation of equity-seeking groups at management level increases by up to 24% with a mentoring program.
  • 60% of managers who are men are uncomfortable mentoring women.

Below are a few best practices that Dave discussed for organizations looking to scale, measure and effectively implement successful mentorship programs that will move the dial on their DEI mandates:

  • Move away from manual matching processes using spreadsheets as it isn’t inclusive and incorporate technology to remove inherent biases.
  • Don’t leave it to employees to navigate their 1:1 mentorship relationships. Provide guidance and program structure to guide the process, conversations and goals.
  • Monitor and measure the pool of mentors and mentees to ensure there is proper DEI representation. Get feedback on the impact and outcome of the mentoring sessions to ensure they are progressing towards your DEI mandates.
  • Ensure mentorship is linked to your corporate DEI strategies, given the impact it has in engagement, promotion and retention, and ensure mentorship is implemented consistently across your organization.
  • Set targets and hold leaders accountable.

The Ascend Canada CIO Forum continues to explore how Corporate Canada can enable and support the measurement of diversity and inclusion efforts. Read our first whitepaper, Harnessing the Power of Data & KPIs to Advance Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Organizations, released earlier this year, with a second one slated for the Fall. Stay tuned!

Brendon Buckler is an Ascend volunteer supporting the CIO Forum and the Strategy workstream.