Mentorship Programs to Increase Your DEI

By The Intersect Group

Mentorship programs have had somewhat of a makeover lately. Where once (the 1970s) they were used to develop young, male,  middle class, largely non-diverse college graduates into corporate executives, they’ve since expanded, especially in recent years.

Business owners, company executives, and HR managers have realized potential leaders are everywhere. In fact, many mentorship programs no longer focus solely on grooming future members of the C-suite but now aim also at helping employees of all levels and backgrounds become the best they can be at any level.


Mentoring increases diversity in leadership

Now that improving DEI has become a focus for many organizations, it makes sense to use mentorships to improve talent pipeline diversity.

In 2016, The Harvard Business Review found that formal mentoring programs did increase diversity in minority and female representation in management by 9 to 24 percent, on average. The most significant increases in leadership positions were in Hispanic women (23.7 percent), Black women (18 percent), and Asian women (24 percent).

And – don’t get us wrong – this is great. Yet remember that the HBR study focused on how mentoring programs increased minorities in leadership positions.


So the question arises: what about mentoring programs as a way to increase diversity in recruiting?

It can definitely work there, as well.

Yet before we move into how mentoring can improve a company’s DEI recruiting, let’s talk for a moment about how it can help with diversity retention: a 2017 study found that mentorship programs are “a vital component when trying to retain diverse talent.” Moreover, minority and women mentors said that the experience was an essential part of their career growth.

Of course, creating mentorship programs regardless of how well they help with employee retention or diversity recruiting is a “very good thing” on its own.


But they CAN help with increasing the diversity of your job candidates

Here’s how:

  • Market your mentorship programs in your recruiting efforts.

Your candidates won’t know about this program if you don’t tout it. So include it in your job descriptions. Talk about it on your company’s About page. Talk about it on your “What we believe” page. Incorporate it into your social media strategy.

If you share employee bios on your jobs or recruiting pages, highlight an employee who’s not a member of a majority group who has benefited from your mentoring program.

Talk about it with every single candidate you talk to when setting up an initial interview.

  • Consider offering the chance to participate in your company’s mentoring program just six months or so after someone joins your company. And then ask interviewers – whether they’re your in-house recruiters or the hiring manager – to mention it during interviews.

Imagine you’re a candidate, and your potential new boss talks up a mentoring program that you could join mere months after becoming an employee. Would you be more interested in this company, one that’s obviously – obviously!! – so interested in its employees’ career growth that they offer mentoring almost from the get-go?

We’re sure you’d say: “Heck, yeah!”

  • Talk it up at college career and your city/regional job and career fairs

Participate in career fairs at minority-focused colleges. Seek out the opportunity to represent your company at career fairs that minority business groups host. Talk up your mentorship program and get the attention of a more diverse pipeline of talent.