It’s no secret that the corporate landscape is changing. For talent to reach its peak potential, it needs to be nurtured and encouraged in ways that are not just limited to white-collar jobs. The onus here is on employers: They must go further than merely hiring people from minority groups; companies have a responsibility to make sure their employees have access to career progression opportunities within the organization, too. Mentorship can play an invaluable role here by opening doors for those from communities that have been previously excluded or disadvantaged.
Here, we will discuss why mentoring should be adopted to help minorities advance their careers, and how mentoring can support your organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals more broadly.
Employee Resource Groups for Mentoring
An employee resource group (ERG) is a group of employees who come together based on shared characteristics, such as ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and other shared experiences and characteristics. ERGs can serve as a support network for their members and can also work to promote DEI within the organization.
Ensuring inclusion with a robust mentor-mentee relationship is one of the critical goals of the ERG. One way to establish such relationships is by conducting mentorship programs within the group to support tomorrow’s leaders for the organization. This can involve matching mentees with mentors within the group or partnering with external mentors aligned with the group’s goals and objectives. The ERG can also provide resources and support for the mentorship program, such as hosting training sessions or workshops for mentors and mentees.
How Mentoring Can Help Employees Move Into Eventual Leadership Positions
Mentoring can be an effective way to support the career advancement and development of employees from minority groups. Here are a few ways how:
- Providing guidance and support: A mentor can provide guidance and support to help the mentee navigate their career path, identify and overcome challenges, and set and achieve career goals.
- Expanding networks: A mentor can introduce the mentee to their professional network, which can be especially valuable for individuals from minority groups who may have fewer connections in their field.
- Offering perspective and advice: A mentor can provide perspective and advice based on their own experiences and insights, which can be especially helpful for mentees with fewer role models or mentors within their peer group.
- Advocating for the mentee: A mentor can advocate for the mentee, promoting their strengths and abilities to others and helping to create opportunities for advancement.
- Role modeling: A mentor can serve as a role model and demonstrate how to succeed in the mentee’s field. This can be especially important for individuals from minority groups who may not have as many visible role models in leadership positions.
Overall, mentoring can be a valuable resource for supporting the career advancement and development of employees from minority groups, helping them to build the skills, networks and confidence they need to succeed in their careers and eventually move into leadership positions.
ERGs and Career Pathing for Leadership Training
An effective leadership training program should incorporate elements of both ERGs and career pathing initiatives. An ERG fosters an environment that encourages collaboration, creativity and innovation, as well as builds trust among peers and leaders. This allows individuals to recognize their strengths, leverage their colleagues’ skills and maximize group performance potential.
In addition, a career pathing program that leverages company goals, industry trends and individual experience supports sustained success by helping individuals to develop skills in tandem with those desired by the organization and industry. Combined, these strategies provide a pathway for the productive development of future leaders within the organization.
Mentorship, both within and outside of ERGs, can be a valuable resource for supporting the career pathing and development of employees from underrepresented groups, helping them to build the skills, networks, and confidence they need to succeed in their careers and achieve their goals.
To be successful, mentoring can’t be diluted as a mere “duty” of organizations and can’t thrive without a strong support system. Top management and senior executives must fully support and fund mentoring initiatives to create an equitable workplace for all.