Companies everywhere are talking of diversity- it’s a catchphrase of sorts among the HR professionals. It has been incorporated as a core value by many companies. The question, however, is how many of these companies understand how to attain it or even its importance? What’s certain though is that we all need more of it.
It’s one thing for companies to purposefully hire individuals from differing backgrounds, and quite another to nurture a diverse work environment. In other words hiring shouldn’t be the alpha and omega of diversity. Why? Because if you don’t proactively; include, value, and support your diverse team, it will be disengaged.
Hiring someone per se without valuing their insights is a total absurdity, and that’s not what diversity stands for.
There are immense benefits in diversity but only to the extent, it’s done right. One of the ways to unlock the benefits of diversity and Inclusion is through mentoring.
Mentoring has enormous benefits and when done correctly it has the potential to bring the best out of both the mentor and the mentee.
The Difference between Diversity and Inclusion:
It’s important to note that diversity and inclusion are not one and the same. It’s possible for a company to hire based on diversity and fail at inclusion.
Many times companies confuse the two concepts, and in the process lose out on the true benefits of a diverse workforce as well as cause staff to feel left out.
In a nutshell, diversity is a tool used during the hiring process that enables companies to bring individuals from different backgrounds to join the companies’ workforce. Inclusion means that the company takes this diverse workforce’s perspectives and experiences onboard and assigns value to them.
Diversity gets the people into the company; inclusion enables them to give their best and grow their careers.
Inclusion is what creates synergy in a team, and employees who feel valued by their employer get a sense of belonging and are more engaged.
Unconscious bias has been a contributing factor in a lack of inclusion as well as a lack of appreciation of the difference between diversity and inclusion by management teams.
Mentorship helps to bridge the gap between these two concepts. It not only ensures that the company hires based on diversity but that it also unlocks inclusion- creating value in the process.
Mentorship unlocking Inclusion:
Diverse hiring is only a stepping stone for inclusivity. Without inclusion, a company will get no meaningful results.
Chances of increased bias are higher among individuals in a workplace if a company has a poor diversity program.
Diverse workplaces need mentorship programs because they create spaces for employee engagement- promoting inclusion.
The benefits are especially realised when the mentor and mentee are very different from different backgrounds.
Inclusion requires that different people appreciate the differences between them and harness those differences to serve the team.
When two individuals have real differences, they both must put in the work to make it meaningful. They both need to learn, re-learn, and sometimes unlearn some things. There's a need for understanding as well as acceptance.
During the mentoring process, questions are asked and new revelations are made giving better clarity and bringing new challenges and solutions for both individuals and the company.
It’s an experience that’s truly fulfilling for both mentor and mentee and as these relationships evolve, the process of mentoring among individuals from differing backgrounds transforms the culture of the company into one that values each individual for who they are.