Is Our Mentoring Program Working?

December 4, 2013 8:09 pm

By Luke Visconti

Is Our Mentoring Program Working?

Photo by Shutterstock

Q: I serve as the chair for the diversity and inclusion council. We are assessing our formal mentorship program. We’ve asked about mentees’ experiences, impact on their overall development, and whether they’d recommend the program. We’ve also assessed the demographics. We  found white males rated their participation lower than others.

  • Does our program have shortcomings?
  • What best practices and resources would you recommend for mentoring?
  • How do companies utilize sponsorships in conjunction with mentorship?

A: DiversityInc has found that in the companies with the most successful programs, mentoring is evenly applied. Our best practices include ensuring that there are cross-cultural/racial/gender/orientation/disability opportunities, especially for your Black, Latino and Asian senior executives. You should also be tracking  demographics of your mentees versus the demographics of your talent pipeline. We ironically regularly find underrepresentation in mentoring of underrepresented groups. Mentoring programs directed at one group or another—or conspicuously omitting white men—are inherently unfair and will cause problems.

See 7 Strategies for Successful Mentoring from Wells Fargo, Pfizer, AT&T, Ernst & Young, Target, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Baxter to learn more about structuring and tracking  formal mentoring programs.

I do not believe sponsorship can be assigned; however, you can assign a goal for each senior executive to sponsor a certain number of people—and direct them to your resource groups as a good way to find individuals to sponsor.

See Is Sponsorship the New Mentoring? Case Studies from EY, Deloitte, AT&T, Dell & Hilton. Seventy-two percent of The 2013 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity have a formal component to their sponsorship. This means involving senior executives and setting up guidelines and checkpoints.

Sodexo (No. 1 in the DiversityInc Top 50) has one of the best formal mentoring programs we’ve seen, particularly because of the metrics used to gauge success as well as the ways in which the company has been able to quantify the ROI on mentoring (for every $1 spent, there was $2.28 in retention/increased productivity realized).