The basis for any great diversity development strategy should include the inclusion aspect of what the organization is doing to make sure all employees feel supported, developed, and have access to critical relationships.
Many times diversity programs start with a developing resource group to support employees, communicating that diversity is a priority for the employer. However, absent any sort of a mentoring structure, often, diverse talent is twice as likely to leave an organization because they don’t see people who look like them and they don’t feel supported or developed. And so we may spin our wheels trying to bring diverse talent into an organization, only to have them leave because they see a clearer path elsewhere.
Mentoring is a powerful strategy for inclusion because it provides access to relationships that are critical for the development of any employee.
When a diverse candidate is able to access relationships, build relationships, build visibility in an organization, and feel supported in his or her development, it creates an environment that is focused not just on diversity but really making sure people feel included and that they have a place at the table.
Typically, the key priorities of a diversity leader are to ensure that not only are they recruiting from a diverse pool of talent, but attracting the right talent to the organization and that their talent is accelerating and advancing within the organization at a pace that is equitable and fair.
Having a mentorship program tells prospective employees that, not only do you care about their development, but that they’re going to have access to that feedback, the relationships, and the skill development that is going to be needed in order to accelerate their career.
Just by virtue of having a mentoring program, tells those prospective employees so much about your organization, the environment, and the culture that you have. It can certainly help with attracting the right diverse talent.
How your organization develops its talent is critical. Mentoring is a strategy that meets people where they are. All of the Engage Mentoring programs are fully administered by us, so it’s something that you can outsource and be confident in. What we provide at Engage Mentoring is a way for people to access relationships and take charge of their own development.
One employer that we’ve worked with for more than five years initially started working with us to support women in their organization with mentorship opportunities. We have since evolved that program to provide the Developing Leaders Program to all employees in the organization. Their CEO often reflects what it’s really done to shift the culture in such a way that people really know how to access relationships, they know what it means to pour into others, and they are clear on who their resources are. It’s created a cultural environment where everyone feels supported and that they have access to relationships.
Another company that we’ve worked similarly with is Panera Bread. Nationally, they started out working with us to offer this program to women in their organization through their employee resource group and have since expanded that offering to all employee resource groups in their organization as a way to create that access to relationships is a critical piece of their inclusion strategy.
In order to retain your organization’s diverse talent, they must feel engaged, supported, developed, and they must feel like their employer cares about them. If all of these are met, the likelihood is very high that they’re going to stay. And certainly, if you provide those advancement opportunities, that will ultimately lead to greater retention of diverse populations of employees.