A structured mentoring program can result in a thriving work culture.
The foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in any workplace is access to relationships. Emotionally intelligent leaders and teams are critical to the health and strength of any organizational culture. Organizations that get this right drive cultures where teams communicate better, collaborate effectively and create meaningful relationships. This helps to ensure their most valuable asset (talent within the organization) feels seen and driven to want to be their best.
According to Gallup, when employees feel like they don’t belong or that their workplace isn’t fair, performance suffers and engagement drops. In order for employees to show up authentically and want to produce in an organization, they need to feel whole, cared for, and included. When belonging is achieved, systems of inequity can be addressed. Access to relationships is key to ensuring that diverse populations are able to thrive in the workplace. It is important to consider not just race, but diversity as it relates to gender inclusion, individual ideas, and differences of perspectives. Any leader in today’s world is simply not getting the full richness of what their team can do and produce if they are not considering these factors.
It is important to remember what shapes the perspectives of your employees. Culture, professional experiences, prior personal experiences, education, and their current workplace are all factors that play a role in how they contribute to and how they feel in your organization. They not only make up social identities, but also shape perspective. With that in mind, it is important to remember that the ability to comprehend this in your interactions with employees or perhaps at a company function is considered a high calling for leaders.
Bringing Mentorship into the Equation and Implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
A formalized mentoring program can do so much to improve workplace culture. Emotional intelligence and trust is key to creating authenticity in relationships. When it comes to DEI and mentoring, sometimes our natural tendency is to work with people who are similar to ourselves. This can be limiting in how employees develop and improve themselves and work to reach their greatest potential, so it is of utmost importance for inclusion and structuring mentoring programs to help employees to break barriers and silos as a part of the mentoring strategy.
Engage Mentoring, a software-based mentoring enablement program, aligns nicely with an employer’s DEI efforts because ensuring access to mentoring relationships is critical when you look through the lens of DEI.
Irrespective of my role, I always appreciated supervisors and leaders who created an environment where spaces for team vulnerability, trust building, and diverse perspectives were considered and valued. No surprise based on the emotional needs as discussed earlier. Leaders sometimes fall short in cultivating a sense of belonging because they disregard that their employees bring their lived and professional experiences to the workplace.
It is important for leaders to create opportunities for exposure and connectivity between team members. Employees are smart—they know when there is no authenticity to ‘new DEI’ initiatives. Bringing diversity and a formalized mentoring program into the workplace brings different talents, strengths, understanding and skills that help to break down barriers, communication silos, and comfort zones which leads to organizational growth and capacity building.
“It is important for leaders to create opportunities for exposure and connectivity between team members. Employees are smart—they know when there is no authenticity to ‘new DEI’ initiatives.”
To summarize, it is important to remember that leaders who have greater emotional intelligence will foster the same in their workforce. It is essential to create an environment where people feel safe to bring all of who they are to work so they can have more meaningful connections with other team members, promote diversity and inclusion advocacy, showcase business impact and help to define and establish varying mentoring relationships including one-on-one, peer, cross-cultural and reverse mentoring. Creating a competitive strategy around DEI initiatives that includes a structured mentoring program will result in a more inclusive, thriving culture where belonging is achieved.
Engage Mentoring is committed to building an inclusive culture that champions access to relationships and embraces diverse backgrounds and perspectives. This is reflected in our team as well as the companies we partner with who share our mission and values.