Case Study: DEI Mentoring Program
Leveling Up DEI Impact through Designing a Mentoring Program
A Fortune 100 Company was having difficulty retaining underrepresented talent and wanted to create an environment where those in the underrepresented demographic would have the same supportive working environment as those in majority. It was clear that there was a systemic gap in the way leaders invited employees to growth opportunities and this needed to be addressed, not only for the benefit of underrepresented talent, but for everyone at the company.
We looked at the demographic data at every level and every job title and noticed that people from underrepresented backgrounds were not being promoted at the same rate as their peers, despite having the equivalent skills, education, experience, and positions.
I sat down with the hiring managers to discuss this trend in their data. They were interested in hearing my thoughts as they were having trouble meeting their retention and recruitment goals. I suggested a mentoring program since one of the root causes of their issue was the lack of equitable relationships. We asked the leaders, “Who do you mentor right now? Do they look, love, and live like you?” For many senior leaders, the answer was yes. We made the mentoring program optional, but I worked to convince senior leaders in all departments to leverage this tool.
We launched a mentoring program with the goal of providing employees with opportunities to learn critical business skills, create new partnerships, and learn how to leverage their strengths to be more effective while also increasing business value. The program was available without a nomination process and allowed employees to take charge of who they wanted to build a connection with within the company. We recommended that mentors be seasoned leaders who have been part of the company for at least one year.
Mentors were expected to actively promote and champion their mentees, to identify opportunities that would allow their mentees to showcase their skill sets and/or develop new ones. Mentors were also expected to leverage their connections to tout the accomplishments of their mentees and encourage mentees to take on new challenges. The process of becoming a mentor included having a conversation with the manager, completing a 2-to-4-hour training on mentorship, and signing up on an online platform.
Mentees were expected to set goals as well as utilize the Mentee Workbook to prepare for mentor meetings. The process to become a mentee was to have a conversation with the manager, sign up on the online platform, and show up to mentor meetings prepared with questions and areas of growth in mind.
After launching our mentoring program, we started tracking and reviewing the following data:
- Mentor/mentee ratio
- Duration of each engagement
- Feedback about the quality of the interaction (focus groups and interviews and surveys),
- Comparing promotional opportunities of people that participated in the program (to see if they are promoted at a higher rate than the general population)
The mentoring program showed improvement in all these areas. Over time, we are hopeful that the rate of retention for underrepresented talent will also improve.