How Reverse Mentoring Supports Your DEI Goals

In response to the focus on workplace parity, many companies committed to taking action to promote a more diverse and equitable workforce. The merging of this social pressure with research from organizations like McKinsey & Co Companies demonstrating the business impact of prioritizing DEI promised to carry the momentum well into 2022.

But progress is slow. Organizations are still struggling to create effective DEI workspaces, and the makeup of global leadership pipelines has only just begun to change. according to a PwC In the survey, 76 percent of companies say DEI is a priority, while only 26 percent have DEI goals for their leaders.

It is therefore not surprising that most DEI initiatives leave no dent in their current state.

If the last two years have been the time for making commitments, then this must be the year for action. In order for DEI to penetrate leadership roles, middle management and new hires, organizations need to find new ways to get DEI to business goals. Because the pipeline doesn’t change overnight, companies need a fresh approach.

Why reverse mentoring is so important for DEI

As companies struggle to attract, retain and develop diverse talent, many have turned to mentoring as a powerful strategy. There are myriad benefits of standard mentoring formats, but to achieve DEI goals, it’s best to put the power of mentoring squarely in the hands of an underrepresented employee.

This is where reverse mentoring comes in.

What is reverse mentoring? in one typical reverse mentoring program, young employees look after older, more experienced employees. This isn’t just about young workers teaching seasoned businesspeople the ins and outs of TikTok. Instead, this format encourages mutual learning and gives each participant a belief that their perspective matters at an organizational level.

This can increase retention, promote advancement, and help leaders become more aware of cultural and systemic issues within their own organization. With a younger employee mentoring an older mentor, leaders are exposed to more diverse perspectives to help them better understand cultural differences, business challenges and evolving customer needs.

Promotes a sense of belonging

The feeling of being isolated or unobserved can directly impact different demographics in any organization. Employee retention and productivity are at greater risk when these feelings creep into the everyday lives of your employees.
Research by EY shows that people are more productive, motivated and engaged when they feel they belong.

Reverse Mentoring promotes a sense of belonging and supports the growth of each participant. Allowing juniors to share their ideas with leaders directly builds their confidence. Additionally, it fosters a collaborative and equal workforce that makes them feel valued and encourages them to speak their minds. As a result, employees begin to believe that they are working for an organization that they want to be a part of for the long term.

Fusing cultural and organizational ties through mentoring is an invaluable practice as each participant is encouraged to share their insights despite cultural, professional or administrative barriers.

Disrupts traditional power structures

Organizational power structures influence how employees behave and treat each other. The way they speak, create, exchange ideas and engage in conflict are all influenced by the hierarchy established in organizations. As a result, historical power structures can constrain creativity and collaboration, especially when it comes to nurturing and nurturing underrepresented minorities. This ultimately impacts business results and employee productivity because, as we know,

companies in the top quartile Diversity leaders are 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than their industry peers.

Innovation is a product of creativity. Creativity comes from freedom of speech. To foster a culture that encourages the freedom to share perspectives, employers must find a new way to build relationships with their employees.

Because of its unorthodox format, reverse mentoring is a means of breaking the norm. This mentoring format gets participants out of their comfort zone and sharing their thoughts, beliefs and experiences. From here, organizations can get detailed data that can help them identify the blockers that are preventing their employees from doing their best and spotting the talents of others. As a result, traditional power structures that once impeded innovation can be weakened or dismantled.

Promotes new perspectives

When done right, reverse mentoring can help
enable diverse perspectives to penetrate the organization. Cultivating progressive innovation is essential in the workplace as it can drive new and previously overlooked perspectives.

For reverse mentoring to be effective, participants need to feel supported from the top down. Just because an employer introduces a reverse mentoring program, where junior staff give feedback to older employees, doesn’t mean that those involved feel comfortable with it. The program must prepare, train and support participants to receive constructive criticism and express opinions on sensitive issues. Reverse mentoring is a two-way professional development strategy. As the relationship grows, so will comfort and trust.

Leveraging a reverse mentoring program can help leaders significantly increase their understanding, awareness, and appreciation of difference while empowering aspiring diverse leaders. And sharing raw ideas and knowledge will move the mentoring program and organization further into the realm of a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.

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