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Elynor Moss
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Mentorship Programs to Encourage Diversity
Posted By: Elynor Moss on June 30, 2020

Increased diversity in your organization sounds like a great goal, but is your business equipped to handle it?

A major barrier for minority recruitment is a lack of knowledge about what varied perspectives can provide. Many minority populations might jump at the chance for a new job opportunity, but don’t feel qualified to take advantage of it. Worse yet, some candidates may know they’re qualified, but feel that their perspective won’t contribute to your organization in a meaningful way. This stops many potentially talented individuals from applying for positions, and prevents their upward mobility in the job market. It’s up to managers and diversity recruiters to empower candidates with the tools they need for success.

Mentorships for Diversity
Underprivileged demographics don’t often have resources available to them that help them succeed—forcing them to work within social systems that fail to leverage their natural talents. This is particularly true for youth populations. Minorities and socially-oppressed demographics must be set on a track for success at a young age. Mentorship programs provide this guidance with specific, one-on-one training that prepares students for future academic and career success. This knowledge is valuable for candidates seeking employment, applying for colleges or scholarships, or leveraging their skills for workplace promotions.

Successful Mentorships
Mentoring underprivileged populations isn’t a simple task. Each candidate’s unique personality, past experiences, and future goals play a role in how the person’s growth must be nurtured. Though each candidate is unique, mentors should keep several general goals in mind to ensure a successful outcome:

• Team Involvement: A diversity-driven mentorship program requires collaboration from every department in your organization. This includes the mentors themselves, management that oversees training protocols, and top-level executives who publicly prioritize diversity outreach and their organization’s commitment to mentorship goals.

• Individuality: Mentors must acknowledge the individuality of each candidate, particularly when mentors are of different race, gender, or socioeconomic class. These differences contribute to a diverse workforce, but can present challenges during the mentorship process. Mentors should prioritize authentic interactions and building trust with the candidates they work with. Building this rapport is essential to a mutually respectful and value-driving relationship.

• Structured Goals: Like your other diversity recruitment initiatives, structured goal setting is an important part of ensuring mentorship success. Goals should accommodate the needs of both the mentor and recruit, while staying aligned with the objectives of the business. These objectives may include preparing minorities for leadership roles, increasing cultural authenticity of marketing initiatives, or retaining higher numbers of already-recruited individuals.

Finding Programs
While many companies host business mentorships for qualified candidates, these types of programs aren’t limited to the business world.
Mentorships are a common component of after-school programs, 4-H clubs, community outreach programs (like Big Brothers Big Sisters), and religious or faith-based organizations. Though most of these organizations don’t mentor youth with the specific purpose of increasing their viability in a diverse job market, networking with these groups can grant you access to a wide and diverse talent pool. Internships and mentorship programs are highly sought-after in the competitive business world, especially for minority populations with less access to educational resources.

Mentorships are a mutually beneficial relationship for recruiters and prospects. Diversity recruiters can add much-needed variety to their talent pool, while mentorship candidates gain valuable skills that prepare them for future success. Leverage this value-driving relationship in your own business to diversify your workforce and contribute to the growth of the populations you serve.

Marek Biernacinski
Content Pro, CEO
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