Strengthening diversity and inclusion by connecting ERG members with relevant mentors
Putting their people first and investing in diversity
Avison Young has always been a people-first organization. As a commercial real estate firm in a competitive market, their people set them apart.
And they value diversity. They’re in diverse markets, and their workforce should reflect that. In 2020 they launched several initiatives to support diversity, equity and inclusion, including a mentorship program.
They had big plans. But this wasn’t their first mentorship program. They had already launched a mentorship within their Women’s Network in the past.
Managing their mentorship program more efficiently
Before learning about Together, Avison Young’s mentorship program was cumbersome to manage.
The program manager would send out surveys to employees, print out their responses, and manually match them.
Joan Skelton, Avison Young’s Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion, reflected on the process saying,
“We’d spread [responses] out all over the floor and try to match people. And we’re a big company with a couple thousand people [in our women’s group]. It’s hard to tell if this person is right for that one… [the previous program manager] literally said she was losing her mind.”
They decided that if they were ever to launch another mentorship program, they needed a solution to make registering, pairing, and managing the mentorship program easier. No one wanted to spend weeks manually matching over 2000 employees.
Avison Young adopted Together’s Mentoring Software to make their pairing process more efficient. Instead of manually comparing employee profiles, Together’s pairing algorithm would instantly recommend 3-5 of the most relevant mentors across the organization for each employee.
The algorithm considered each employee’s experience, career goals, and preferences to make a meaningful and relevant match.
Intelligently pairing participants
Skelton shared that,
“Creating meaningful pairings was essential to the success of our program. Together’s platform does all the work in matching people based upon what they want and need in a mentoring relationship allowing for a truly customized experience for each mentee.”
Providing mentor and mentee training resources
In addition to pairing, Together’s platform included resources to guide employees along their mentoring journey. They’d have discussion agendas and mentoring handbooks full of tips and pointers for building strong mentoring relationships.
“One of the keys to our success was how easy it was to use the Together Software… the tool did all of the heavy lifting… It was really all outlined and developed for us. Which made it very easy.”
Avison Young built out their mentorship program quickly using our templated programs. Everything was fully customizable, so they had something to get started, and could change it as needed to make it their own.
Automating friendly reminders, so meetings aren’t missed
To ensure no missed meetings, Together would automate email reminders. Together would remind employees to register for the program and ping them when they had upcoming sessions with their mentors.
Additionally, Together integrated with employee calendars which made scheduling sessions easy. Employees didn’t have to learn an entirely new system, and booking time didn’t require any tedious back-and-forth.
Noticeable improvements in retention
When looking at the impact across the organization, they saw a tangible improvement in retention rates in the year following their mentoring programs.
“We saw a decrease in turnover and an increase in retention in 2021, which is almost unheard of. That’s attributable, at least in part, to the implementation of the Together Platform.”
Recognized as leaders within the real estate industry
Within their wider DEI goals, their women’s mentorship program garnered the attention of GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum who applauded them as “active supporters of women in the field.”
“The Together Platform enabled us to maintain connections with our employees that otherwise would have been impossible to do.”
There’s a reason why Forbes recognized Avison Young as one of America’s best employers.
Employees loved the program
Avison Young’s mentorship program was a huge success. They paired over 550 participants, and the average rating for their mentoring pair was 3.97/4. Likewise, 98% of participants rated the program as satisfactory or very satisfactory.
When discussing the impact the program had, participants shared feedback such as:
"This program was better than I thought it was going to be. It will help the whole company grow as one.”
“I'm thrilled that Avison Young created this, and I look forward to growing here with the help of this mentoring program.”
“The range of paired matches was fantastic. It helped me focus on my immediate goals and align them with the best match. My mentor was exactly what I was hoping for!”
Building on their success, they have more mentoring programs in the works
Going forward, Avison Young has plans to launch a global mentoring program to connect all their employees.
“Our staff can have mentors locally in their office or 1000 miles away in another country. This will give them the experience and exposure to others within Avison Young.”
Using mentorship software empowered them to scale their program, allowing every employee to receive career-changing mentorship.
In a global organization with over 5000 employees, there’s no better way to connect them than through a global mentorship program.
Avison Young is a global commercial real estate services firm, headquartered in Toronto, with more than 100 offices in 15 countries.