Solutions – How to Increase Diversity Using Mentoring

TRADITIONALLY, providing mentors for individuals who have been disadvantaged in some way has been a “compensatory” approach. Certainly the individualized support, encouragement, challenging, and teaching of a mentor has been a primary tool for increasing the success of disadvantaged persons and the diversity in every imaginable setting and context from schools, to universities, to the executive suite. However, such compensatory mentoring programs have discovered and refined their mentoring methods because of some unintended benefits they discovered and wanted to capture.

Also TRADITIONALLY, use of mentors as role models has been a key strategy. This has been especially helpful when disadvantaged persons needed to develop an attitude that, through mentoring, they COULD develop the needed knowledge and skills  to attain levels of success that others they have known might not have dreamed was possible. Such a mentoring role model led many mentoring programs with this goal to match proteges and mentors from the same backgrounds, race, even setting. This method may still be the most effective strategy to accomplish that specific goal

  • However, mentoring programs have also found that, along with the above methods, proteges gain MORE when they ALSO work with a team of mentors, a culturally, ethnically, even age and gender DIVERSE team of persons. They gain more in that the team has strengths which only it’s diversity can provide – strengths that the team can use to benefit the protege(s) it supports.
  • They also gain more because the proteges learn to work in, deal with the challenges within, and to succeed in a diverse team that more closely mirrors the diversity and challenges found in the real world.

The result of these is that many mentoring programs that have been done to increase opportunities, are now setting new goals and redesigning to BROADEN their programs – they are  doing mentoring to also increase inclusion and diversity.