Mentoring - One Step Toward Diversifying Thought

Updated: Oct 21, 2019

Let’s define some things so we are all on the same page before we begin.

What is mentoring?

  • Mentoring is a journey of shared discovery.

  • Mentoring is a positive, supportive relationship, encouraging someone to develop to their fullest potential through sharing knowledge and experience.

  • Mentoring is a great relationship built on a solid foundation that has the potential to deliver a positive impact on people in a variety of personal, academic and professional situations. 

  • Mentoring connects an individual to personal growth and development and improved social and economic opportunity.

  • Mentoring is about creating and nurturing a transformational relationship that changes both individuals.

Yes, all of these!

So, what is diversity?

  • Diversity is everything that we are and that we are not.

  • Diversity is not defined by numbers, quotas or statistics.

  • Diversity includes all the differences which we all have that make us unique, whether it is our race, color, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, nationality, language, age, or physical and mental ability.

  • Diversity is a business strategy that leads to a better bottom line.

Absolutely, the strategy of creating a diverse workforce is proven to lead to better business results.

Ok, now why does mentoring get us one step closer to diversity of thought?

The goal of mentoring is to match two individuals so that over their relationship they each gain skills, knowledge and most importantly, a new perspective.  The real impact however is seen beyond the goals met and objectives achieved. 

The real impact exists in the personal exchange between the individuals.

When mentoring is successful, true relationships are created, but another outcome is the promotion of diversity both within organizations and society as a whole.  The intangible skills that individuals gain during these relationships like self-confidence, communication skills and being realistic when evaluating your own performance are the result of this diversity.

But can mentoring really promote diversity?

Simply, yes. 

If you connect people that are different then you are promoting diversity.  Mentoring is the most effective for this when the matching is done for the individuals, rather than allowing mentees to choose their own mentors.   

Inclusion and mentoring may seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, because inclusion focuses on the differences in individuals while traditional mentoring focuses on matching individuals based on their similarities. 

This is where traditional mentoring programs are missing out on a great opportunity.

The matching process is crucial to the success of a mentoring program, and the relationships that are established as a result.  It’s typical for individuals to connect with and seek out people like themselves and therefore if they choose their mentor, they will likely choose someone like them.   This type of match does not create the environment that is required to form a transformational relationship.