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Diverse and inclusive work environments yield higher productivity and better outcomes. When all employees feel valued by their organization, they’re more productive, engaged, and satisfied. Company-wide mentoring programs can create more inclusive environments and facilitate workplaces where all employees feel they belong.

How Mentoring Encourages Inclusion

Mentoring improves cultural competency, which is the ability to relate to and appreciate people from different cultures or ethnic groups. Mentoring helps forge bonds by increasing empathy with a protégé who might have a different worldview or set of beliefs. The mentor is more likely to understand these differences and be less judgmental during interactions.

Mentoring increases equity Mentoring makes it easier for minority employees to gain exposure and new professional opportunities. Mentors can provide feedback that helps employees become more visible, especially in an organization that isn’t diverse. Also, when mentees make mistakes, they benefit from receiving correction without it affecting their performance evaluation.

Mentoring nurtures working relationships. An organization that encourages mentoring helps professional relationships flourish. It also demonstrates how much it values all employees, celebrate differences, and allows individuals to take risks and explore new opportunities.

Using Mentoring to Create Inclusivity

Incorporate mentor training. Mentoring is a component of leadership excellence. However, effective mentoring doesn’t come naturally to some; leaders need to learn how to cultivate mentorship as a skill. Organizations wanting to benefit from diversity should incorporate mentoring training for leaders.

Pair up with a colleague. Pairing newly hired members with more experienced colleagues facilitate knowledge transfer and increase retention. These partnerships can help new members become more oriented to the workplace.

Encourage reverse mentoring. Mentors can learn a great deal from novices. With reverse mentoring, newer employees provide coaching to more experienced individuals. Younger individuals usually have insightful ideas about making businesses more inclusive, and they can give valuable suggestions.

Track results. Without observable, measurable results, it isn’t easy to know how well a mentoring program works. Upon initiating a new mentoring plan, a company can keep track of improvements in retaining and promoting people of color, women, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented members. Companies also can collect open-ended statements and testimonials to assess progress.