Using Mentorship to Achieve Your DEIB Goals

Watch the recording of Dr. Brad Johnson, Michelle Ferguson, and Jai Chaggar's insightful panel discussion on the power of mentorship for promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace.
Download transcript

Transcript Text

Brittany Hendriks: Hello everyone, and welcome to our panel discussion on using mentorship to achieve your diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging goals. We have a fantastic group today of panelists as well as a large audience. So I'm really excited to get started in this discussion. First, I want to just quickly introduce myself as well as Together. So my name is Brittany, and I'll be your host for today guiding us through a discussion with our panelists. And I'm representing together, Together as a mentorship platform that helps organizations build more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces through the power of mentorship. And before we jump into the panel discussion, I do have a couple of logistics. So quick note, this call is being recorded, so there's no need to fever virtually take notes. We will send the recording out to you afterwards. You can always revisit the discussion. And then in addition, we will have an open Q and A towards the end of the call. So if you do have questions that pop up that haven't been answered within the panel, that's a good time to ask. And then we'll address some between Jay, Brad, and Michelle. Okay. So as I mentioned, we have a stacked roster of panelists today starting with Dr. Brad Johnson. So he is a psychology professor, author, and award-winning mentor who specializes in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace. So welcome to Dr. Brad. Thank you for joining us. Next up is Michelle Ferguson. She's a transformational executive, strategic advisor and author of Women Mentoring Women. And she's also a founding member of Chief, which is a private network for women executives. So welcome to Michelle as well. And then last but not least, we have our very own Jay Chaggar on the call. Jay is our Director of Customer Success here at Together, and he oversees all mentoring initiatives from Together customers and has advised on countless de and I programs. So welcome to Brad, Michelle, and Jay, and thank you so much for joining us today.

Dr. Brad Johnson: Good to be here.

Brittany Hendriks: Awesome. Okay, well, let's jump into the heart of the discussion. The first question is how can mentorship be used to create a more inclusive workplace culture? And we'll kick things off with Brad.

Dr. Brad Johnson: Yeah. So we're going to try and keep each question to about five minutes or so. So I'm gonna just kind of give a few of my sort of favorite responses to this. And it's a good question. So, number one, I think that a good mentoring program can help mitigate what I think of as the problem with affinity bias or homophile, meaning we all as human beings tend to be more comfortable working with somebody, mentoring somebody who looks just like us, reminds us of ourselves. The consequence of that, if we have only informal mentoring in our workplace culture, is that often the minoritized groups, whether its women, people of color, LGBTQ folks are much more likely to fall through the cracks and not actually get access to developmental relationships. So having some structure, I think really helps to mitigate some of that natural bias we have in looking for somebody who looks like us. There also is the truth that, you know, there can be this misnomer that people believe that I can't be a very good mentor across culture. Meaning I'm not sure I would be very effective with somebody I don't fully understand in terms of how they identify. The research shows just the opposite, that often culturally different mentor connections are just as effective. The problem is they are slow to get started because of that affinity bias we already mentioned. So having a structure, having a program helps us to get that launched and maybe get over some of those cultural hurdles. Clearly having somebody reach out to me signals commitment from the organization, which is incredibly powerful. We're gonna talk more about that. I know. And then one last thing from me. I think that if I'm a minoritized person of any sort in the workplace, it's very common for me to have imposter feelings. Meaning I am getting messages that I may not belong here, that they've never seen somebody like me on this team. And I'm starting to doubt myself and wonder if I actually belong. One of the great outcomes of terrific mentoring is it can push back on imposter feelings, normalize them, and really help mitigate some of the distress that comes along with that.

Brittany Hendriks: Amazing. Lots of great insight there. Thank you. I'll pass it off to Michelle. Michelle, do you have anything to add on this question?

Michelle Ferguson: Sure. It's kind of hard to follow Brad. But I would just consider two things. The first is, if you have a formal mentoring program, not only do you have the relationship between each mentor and the mentee, but you've created a community with an affinity point between the mentors and the mentees and the entire community. So there can be additional learning and exposure to your fellow mentees or your fellow mentors. So I think that's an extra advantage of a formal program, is you have more points of reference. And I think it can actually be a mentoring relationship can be a great way to transition a mentor/leader/manager into a real ally because they're having firsthand experience and frank experience with somebody from an underrepresented group. So I think that's another plus to help inclusivity.

Brittany Hendriks: Awesome. Jay, I know you have lots to share on this topic. Do you wanna build from what was already shared?

Jay Chaggar: Yeah, wonderful points from both Brad and Michelle. I think there's just two tips that I'd highlight that haven't been mentioned yet. I think firstly, it's really important to make mentorship a part of your overall DEI strategy, mentorship programs are just one tool and a larger strategy for creating better workplace cultures and organizations should ensure that mentorship programs are aligned with their broader DE and I goals at an organizational level, and that they're incorporating feedback and insights from those initiatives into the program design and implementation. So I think that's one key piece. And then secondly, I think just important to provide ongoing support and resources. And I think this is particularly important in DE and I focus programs since there can be some really tough conversations. You know, as admins of these programs, it's important to provide ongoing support and resources to help both mentees and mentors navigate any uncomfortable conversations that could potentially arise. And, this might look like including some regular check-ins mentorship circles, support groups, or access to additional training or coaching. And I think by providing that ongoing support and resources, these organizations can help ensure that mentorship relationships are as successful and impactful for all those that are involved. So yeah, just those two things that I'd love to add on there.

Brittany Hendriks: Okay. Amazing. This is a tough question to summarize because I think the takeaway is having lots of different types of connections with an organization can benefit diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in a number of different ways as a result. So thank you so much for the insight shared from all three of you. That's great. Next question is, how can mentorship help organizations retain diverse talent in reduced turnover? And I'll pass it off to Michelle to kick us off on this one.

Michelle Ferguson: Great. I think by virtue of simply having the program, you've shown that you have a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, right? Just having a real program, not having something on, you know, for Women's History Month and Black History Month and something on your website. And we've certainly seen in most of my experiences, my time at McGraw Hill Standard and Poor’s is there was a direct correlation between the people who were in both our ERGs and our mentoring program and employee engagement. And there was a direct correlation between employee engagement and reducing turnover and retaining talent. So it's like when you've got enough history, you can just follow the math, right? That both mentees and mentors have a greater chance of being promoted. People like to be promoted, right? And we were able to just follow the numbers, better employee engagement, better retention.

Brittany Hendriks: Makes sense. Awesome. Jay, anything you'd like to add on this question?

Jay Chaggar: Yeah, a few. I think there's three great stats that I'd like to highlight there. I love, love me some data. I think firstly, it’s clear that diverse talent both desire and seek out mentorship opportunities when they are available to them. In fact, when mentoring programs are offered, roughly 74% of minority employees participate in these programs, which is fantastic to see. Secondly, similar to what Michelle mentioned, it's clear that mentorship is effective in increasing minority representation in management positions. Mentoring programs were up to 24% more effective at increasing minority representation in management positions than other corporate tactics, which again, that's wonderful to see. And I think lastly, mentorship can truly help in attracting more diverse talent. 80% of employees want to work at organizations that value DEI and B programs. So I think that's super impactful as well. And I think taken together these stats make a really strong argument for the value of mentorship programs in promoting DE and I in the workplace, and truly highlight the potential impact that these types of programs can have, not only on career advancement, but employee retention and overall organizational success.

Brittany Hendriks: Thank you, Jay. I love the stats. I'll pass it off to Brad.

Dr. Brad Johnson: Yeah, no, I think Michelle and Jay have really hit on those wonderful outcomes that I would've discussed. You know, the commitment, the retention, sense of belonging, really powerful. Just one last thing I would add. I think sometimes, you know, because of the data showing that people who have a mentoring relationship often get more opportunities, meaning they might get more offers from the outside, right? They tend to rise and advance more quickly. They're better networked as a result of their mentoring. If the mentoring is really effective. Sometimes mentors and organizations can get defensive about the fact that their rising stars are getting offers elsewhere, and they might want to leave. Let me just say that that's not always a bad thing. If you have done your job really well and they are loyal to your company because you've helped them develop, they're gonna leave and be some of your best ambassadors and talk up your company. And then many times they're gonna come back later at a higher level because they're loyal to where they were mentored. So this is not a bad thing when you do such a good job mentoring somebody that they get other opportunities or offers. And remember, we mentor people because it's in their best interest, not just the organization. So I just want to add that on.

Brittany Hendriks: That's a really great point. Thank you, Brad. I like the way that you've reframed that, and I completely agree. Awesome. We'll move to the next question which is, how can we tailor mentoring programs to the needs of different employee populations? And we'll kick this off with Jay this time.

Jay Chaggar: Wonderful. This is a great question. I think this question can be broken down into four key buckets that admins can action on. The first bucket I think you want to focus on is really make sure you're gathering feedback and input. You really wanna start by engaging with employees from different backgrounds and ask them for their feedback on mentorship programs. You know, really aim to involve them in the discovery process and tap into their experiences. There are a handful of ways that you can accomplish this that we've seen with a lot of our successful admins. You can conduct focus groups, have one-on-one discussions or surveys to understand the specific challenges that these individuals are facing and what types of support would actually benefit them the most. And then the second bucket, I think is to recruit diverse mentors. You really want to ensure that the mentor pool in your program reflects the diversity of the employee population. And not only will this help to build trust, but it would also increase the likelihood that mentors will understand the unique challenges faced by their mentees. One really awesome example of this from one of our customers, the International Organization for Migration, which is actually a United Nations entity. What they did in their recruitment process is they used intentional communications for mentees and mentors separately. So what they wanted to do is ensure that the mentors that they invited could effectively support the women, transgender and non-binary individuals participating as mentees within their program, and saw a lot of success when they tailored those communications as such. The third bucket is tailoring your program activities. You really want to consider iterating and tailoring your program activities to meet the specific needs of these different employee populations. For example you know, women may benefit from networking events that focus on women in leadership, while LGBTQ plus employees may benefit from mentorship focused on navigating the workplace culture. So really tailor your program activities to the individuals that are participating. And then the fourth and final bucket, I think you really need to focus on building in accountability. You wanna ensure that the program leadership is accountable for the success of the program, and also the impact that it has on these diverse employee populations. It's important, I think, to track metrics related to program effectiveness. A few key ones that we really look at, you know career advancement and also just that really helps you hold the program more accountable for delivering results. So I think looking at those key focus areas, organizations can truly tailor their programs to the need of the different employee populations and further advanced DEIB in the workplace.

Brittany Hendriks: Amazing. Thank you, Jay. Three very helpful buckets. I'll pass it to Brad next on this for any builds.

Dr. Brad Johnson: Yeah, I love that. I love the collecting data. I've often thought of that as conducting listening sessions with those key populations that you really want to impact with the mentoring. So what's on their minds and what are the headwinds they're facing, so I can really tailor the program. I also love the idea of framing the mentoring program in a very aspirational, affirming way for the target population. So I'll just put it in terms of the, a lot of the work that I do around gender. I see companies that really get this right framing these programs for high talent women. And that messaging that you've been identified as a high talent person in the organization, we see you as somebody that we, not only do we wanna retain, but we see you as someone who might move into leadership and in a really important way that communicates something very powerful to a minoritized person who may be struggling with normal imposter feelings. So I think the way you frame the program, the language you use is really important. And then one last thing. Don't forget the power of reciprocity. Meaning, you know, often the best mentorships become more mutual and reciprocal over time. So, the more you can frame this as an evolving partnership I think it tends to remove some of the hierarchy and in a way that really can be more appealing to culturally diverse mentees.

Brittany Hendriks: Thank you, Brad. Michelle, anything to add here?

Michelle Ferguson: The only thing I would do is to add an asterisk to one of Jay's comments on getting feedback on what particular groups need. Don't assume that's gonna stay the same, right? Whether there's changes, you know, the current economic environment changes things. The recent layoffs seem to have disproportionately impacted individuals from underrepresented groups. So what's working today or what people need today may change is the organization and the environment changes.

Brittany Hendriks: I really like that. I think takeaways here are not only listened to your audience, but frequently listen to them and have those regular check-ins. So that's fantastic. Okay. Next question is, what are some ways to measure the impact of a DEIB mentorship program? And I'll pass it to Brad first.

Dr. Brad Johnson: Yeah, I think Michelle and Jay definitely have already mentioned a few of the things, or hinted at a few of these really important outcomes. So I think I'll just mention a couple ideas. And then I really would love to hear from both of them. I think of this often in terms of two big categories. There's the, what I think of as proximal outcomes, meaning the things that I can start measuring right away. And often those are things like satisfaction, right? What's the experience like for the mentee? Do they find this helpful subjectively, you know, what's their evaluation? Is it useful for them? I think that's an important indicator. You could also just track how often are they meeting. I think that gives you a window in on where is this relationship going? Is trust developing? Are they doing good work together? And then I think Michelle talked about organizational commitment and belonging. There are a lot of good measures of belonging and commitment. You could deliver these, you know, once a year to the key population. Compare those in the mentor program with those not, and just kind of track what are you noticing. The more distal things have been referred to retention, advancement into certain leadership positions. Are they mentoring others themselves when they get into key positions? And then if you've got DEI targets, and I think that you should, you should be courageous enough to say, by 2030 we want to be here. How is mentoring helping you track year to year toward those targets?

Brittany Hendriks: Awesome. I'll pass it to Michelle for any builds here.

Michelle Ferguson: I'm going to, I'm struggling to add anything to that.

Brittany Hendriks: Jay, anything you'd like to add?

Jay Chaggar: Yeah, I think just two notable metrics that I think are important to track, and Michelle touched on this in the last question, but I think it is so important, it was really getting that qualitative feedback. You wanna ensure that you're soliciting feedback from your participants throughout the program. And because that can help you understand the more intangible benefits of the program that also might not be reflected in quantitative metrics. And some of the best success stories we've actually had it together is when our admins are actively listening to the feedback from their participants and providing a tweak to the program and really cater to the needs for any gaps or desires that they want to see from the program when it's sort of midway through, and I'll use a customer example here, but the Forum, which is a fantastic Canadian based charity that we had the pleasure of working with, they educate mentors that connect self-identified women entrepreneurs across Canada. And what they do is they implement one month, four month, and eight month check-in surveys for a year long program. And within these surveys, they encourage their participants to really think critically on whether they've met their originally outlined goals or how it may have shifted and what they can do throughout the program to hit their goals that were intended. So that's just echoing on what Michelle said. I think that qualitative feedback is so important. And then secondly is just the diversity metrics. You really want to track diversity metrics such as participation from underrepresented groups in leadership roles or in key projects. And if the mentorship program is contributing, I think to an increase in diversity in those areas. That can be a really clear indicator of its impact.

Brittany Hendriks: Really great answers. Thank you everyone. I took some notes. There was a lot of different ways to measure it, but I think my takeaways are satisfaction, frequency of meetings, comparing those who participated in the mentorship group and those who did not. Retention advancement and participation in mentorship. And then finally some more qualitative metrics that you can get through surveys or regular check-ins with those that are involved. So thank you everyone. I think there's lots of good material that admins can look into. Next question is, how can you ensure your mentorship program improves power dynamics in the workplace? And I'll pass it to Michelle first.

Michelle Ferguson: Great. I have two thoughts. One of them sort of strategic conceptual, and the other one very tactical. So the first is, I think it's really important for the programs to be voluntary on both sides and focused on what the mentees have identified as their development needs. Not what the CEO has decided they should do or what HR has done, but what do the individuals in the program need, right? So I think that's sort of the overall structure of the program. And the second is to be really aware of space, physical space, right? So if you've got the CEO matched with someone in an entry level position, that junior person may not physically feel comfortable in the CEO office, may not know how to wear, how to speak, right? So whatever you can do to like, make your space even, so it may be the mentor gets out of their physical office, you meet in a neutral space, and even if you're doing it virtually, if your background has the trappings of your status, do something to dumb that down. Certainly don't, like I heard one, you know, maybe not appropriate. Invite your mentee to have lunch at your country club, right? Is that really, like, I'm sure the mentor there thought that that was like, isn't that really a nice thing, but is the men, like the mentee, like if someone invited me to lunch at a country club, I don't even know what I'd wear if like what's aware, right?. So just, yeah, be like, physical space has an impact and you wanna create an environment that's comfortable. And our space often is tied into where we are in the organization.

Brittany Hendriks: Really interesting. That's a great point. I hadn't thought of it that before, but it certainly rings true. So thank you Michelle. Jay, anything you'd like to add here?

Jay Chaggar: A few things. I love Michelle's points. And from my perspective, I think I've been so fortunate to help so many of our customers build, launch, and run DEIB focused mentoring programs on our platform. And there's a handful of best practices our team has picked up over the years that we tried to share with all of our admins. I think the first one, and I value this one so much, but just focus on relationship building. I think this one is so vital in my opinion, because mentorship program should focus on building relationships rather than just giving advice. And this can help foster a sense of trust and mutual respect between the mentor and the mentee, regardless of their identities or positions within the organization. As Michelle mentioned an entry level individual connecting with the CEO. And, you know, these relationships are very much a two-way street. And, I'm always, our admins and I'm always so pleasantly surprised at how much the mentors end up saying that they've learned from their mentee throughout their entire relationship. And there's so much learning that can be done by both parties and it's such a feel good moment when you start to untap or tap into that potential that you have there within a pairing. Secondly, I think consider group mentorship options. Group mentorship programs can be a great option for employees who may not have access to one-on-one type opportunities. And it can also be extremely beneficial for employees who might be hesitant to seek out a mentor due to cultural barriers or perhaps even power dynamics. So group programs really help combat that. And also it's really effective if you have a limited number of mentors and it gives you an opportunity to really expand your mentor capacity by allowing for that one mentor to many mentee program format type. And lastly I think just consider intersectionality. It's important to consider the ways in which different identities intersect and impact the mentorship experience. One great example we've seen with one of our customers, Griffith Foods with their recent program focused on empowering women and support roles and in consideration of intersecting identities and experiences of their participants. What they did is they supplemented their program with resources on specifically mentoring and sponsoring people of color to help prep their participants and ensure that they're as prepared as possible for the conversations that are to come within their mentorship journey. So I think those three things I think would really help with ensuring that mentorship programs can help improve power dynamics in the workplace.

Brittany Hendriks: Amazing. Thank you Jay, Brad. Anything you'd like to add?

Dr. Brad Johnson: Just two final comments. Number one, Michelle, I have been channeling your great advice for a long time. I only do my mentoring over a coffee at a coffee shop nearby. And that's why all my mentees are caffeine addicts, but it really has been important to get out of the office. Second, I just wanna build on the mentors here, which we haven't been talking about much. But one concern I have if we're talking about DEIB and mentors is that too often I think minoritized mentors, meaning mid-level senior people who are representative of minority groups, tend to get tasked with mentoring all of the diverse candidates who look like them coming in the door. The problem with that, of course, is burnout. And very often mentoring is not considered a promotable behavior. It's not one of those things we look at when we're thinking about who makes it to the next rung. It's a nice to have. So be careful that you don't make this an extra burden attacks, if you will, on your minoritized employees. I think you have to be careful with that.

Brittany Hendriks: Great point. Thank you, Brad. Some takeaways here are definitely considered the physical space that you're having a mentorship conversation in. Always view the mentorship relationship as a two-way dialogue where both the mentee and the mentor have a lot to gain. Group format or the group format in general can be very helpful to help with these considerations, considering intersectionality, and then also considering how much you're tasking of your diverse employees. So, fantastic points. Thank you everyone. I think a lot to gain there.

Jay Chaggar: Brad, I'm sure the coffee shop loves you bringing in all those lunches, over and over again. I hope you.

Dr. Brad Johnson: Yes. Well, I love it too.

Jay Chaggar: Have some chairs.

Dr. Brad Johnson: Yeah. It's mutual. Yeah.

Brittany Hendriks: Fantastic. We’ll move to the next question here, which is, have you seen any unique and effective approaches to DEIB mentorship programs? And we'll start with Jay.

Jay Chaggar: Wonderful. I'm, again, really fortunate at Together. A lot of these programs have more so become the norm for a lot of our organizations, but the awesome thing about it is each one looks so different because every organization we work with has their own unique goals and purposes for running their programs. So that being said, I'll share three examples that we've seen with really successful programs. The first examples with a firm, this actually echoes Brad's previous point perfectly. They launched a women app mentorship program late last year that paired members of their women at ERG who identified as female or non-binary with more senior employees using career goals and interests as a matching criteria. And it was a leadership program at heart helping members grow, whether that's navigating their first management role or just looking to level up as an individual contributor. But what was unique about their program is that they allowed employees who identified as men to be mentors. And often as Brad mentioned, it puts a lot of pressure on mentors who have similar backgrounds to all underrepresented mentees, because generally everybody wants that specific mentor. So having this additional mentor role eases the burden. And likewise, male mentors should step up. They have access to more privilege and getting them to mentor women can be what really helps them advance. And I know Brad knows this better than anyone with his book, Athena Rising, that speaks to this in wonderful details. So I think that's one really successful one we've seen. The second example is with Kellogg's. They've seen hundreds of their employees register for diverse programming initiatives through Together and really focused on establishing connections with fellow diverse employees on the basis of shared lived experiences. And as challenging as that is in itself the pandemic saw a greater barrier created with a major decrease in cross-functional learning. And what Kellogg's unique solution was that worked so well was they implemented a job shadowing program through which they matched employees on the basis of shared ERG associations, which include employees with disabilities, Latin American employees, black employees, LGBTQ, QIA, a plus employees and more. And the fantastic outcome of all this is what that foundation set their employees were paired and set on a learning path to experience what a new role department or function could look like for them in their future. So that's the second one that really loved that one and came at such a unique time during the pandemic that was fantastic to see bringing people together. And then the last example is with the black women in Asset Management Association. So they are a UK based organization with a mission to help champion the positive impact that talented black women who work in asset management and provide them tools that will enable them to thrive. And what they've done with together is they've leveraged a really comprehensive nine month initiative that connects these professionals to experience leaders with the intent of cultivating mentoring relationships to support career development. And in addition to matching their participants on the basis of shared personality types, they've actually made it, and I find this really unique and fascinating. They've made it mandatory for their paired users to work in different organizations from one another. And this has been fantastic at providing really unique perspectives for those pairings that involved. So those are just three programs I could share with you all the creative ways that our customers are leveraging these program format types. But those are three that, that really stand out to me and I've been so fortunate to work with that Together.

Brittany Hendriks: Thank you, Jay. All great examples. Before I pass it on to Brad, I just quickly wanted to call out. I see that there's some questions coming in the chat. That's amazing and we're really happy to see those. We will have an open Q and A just in a couple of minutes. We have a couple more panel questions here, and then we'll open it up for the questions that are coming through from the audience. So feel free to put the questions in the Q and A. I don't want you to feel ignored in the meantime. We will get to them just in a couple of minutes here. But with that, I'll pass it to Brad. Brad, anything to add on this question?

Dr. Brad Johnson: I really appreciate Jay's comments here. I really resonate with the ERG focus. I think that's a missed opportunity. There are often ERGs for different minoritized groups throughout the organization. What a wonderful location to do some group mentoring, right? Junior people who identify culturally in a very specific way, could this be a starting point on their mentor journey just to have kind of a team or group mentoring experience with some more senior members in that ERG. And then maybe that leads to participation in a different kind of mentoring program. But what a good place to start where I build some affinity. Making it aspirational, I've mentioned already. I just think the way you frame this really matters. Let me give you an illustration that I have encountered recently. I see a lot of organizations sending women to women's leader development programs, and I think many of them are excellent. They do wonderful work, they're very encouraging for junior women. But if those women return to the same organization, that hasn't changed at all, and there's no support, there's no resourcing and there's no sponsoring to advance, I think that's just a performative thing, sending those women off to that program when you're not fully supporting them. So my recommendation here is make sure you include sponsoring in your mentoring program and in the training of the mentors. I tend to see sponsoring as something that good mentoring mentors can do. So are those mentors prepared to open doors and network and talk about her when she's not in the room? I think if they're not, that's a real missed opportunity.

Brittany Hendriks: Great points. Thank you, Brad. Michelle, anything to add here?

Michelle Ferguson: Yeah, I'm going to do a plus one on the group mentoring and also add that even if you have a group with actual mentors, you could have say a group of 12 mentees from whatever your specific group is. Only one of the men, if you had say, had two mentors, one of them could be a person from that group, and the other person can be anybody. And it just helps with the math, right? That the overtaxing of the leaders in the underrepresented groups. And also to consider whether this is a great play for reverse mentoring, right? Because you've got probably more of the junior people, so you can put them in a position of mentoring the senior person around cultural or racial awareness. And the reality of it is it gives that junior mentor access to senior people anyway, right? So that also helps with just dealing with the map.

Brittany Hendriks: Thank you, Michelle. I'm going to… Sorry, go for it. I was just going to plus four to everyone's comments.

Jay Chaggar: I love the reverse mentoring aspect, Michelle, and I think that really does help break down the barriers for, you know, we talked earlier about that entry level and the CEO, but when you put them in that position of power, it really breaks down any nervousness they might have approaching that situation when they're viewed as the subject matter expert. And what a great way to empower some more junior employees.

Brittany Hendriks: Fantastic. Thank you everyone. Okay. We'll move to the next question here, which is, how should you address potential resistance or skepticism to a DEIB focused mentoring program?

Dr. Brad Johnson: Yeah, you know, this one is kind of, boy, there's so many elements here, but let me just focus on one issue that I see when this is the problem. When I see this, I tend to put some of this on the shoulders of the leaders in that organization who are not showing up in a way that really makes it very clear why this matters. What are our diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives? What are our targets? Why is this personally important to me? Why is it crucial to the success and the mission achievement of our organization or company? If you're not clear about this, if you're not comfortable giving the why as the CEO or the leader of the company, I don't expect your employees to take this seriously either. So your clarity has to be good. Second, you've got to be transparent about this. How's your organization doing? We have these DE and I targets. How are we doing? How are we measuring this? And are you communicating this publicly, both to the people in-house and outside? If you're not, I don't think you're establishing trust with your own employees. And then finally, accountability. It’s one thing to talk about the mentoring program as an opportunity to promote DEI, but how are you holding people accountable for this? How are you rewarding them for it? When you have semi-annual evaluations of managers, are you asking them how they're performing in this area when it comes to developing minoritized members of the organization? If there's no clarity, transparency, accountability, I'm gonna look at the leaders and ask them why that's missing.

Brittany Hendriks: Great points. Thank you. Michelle, anything to add?

Michelle Ferguson: I think I already waited on this one on circle. Oh yeah, well, actually, okay. Sorry. I'm one behind. I actually, kind of with Brad, like, I think if you're dealing with this, you've got a problem bigger than potential resistance. But I would also say for the, you know, as a recovering finance person, that a lot of times he'll get pushback on the ROI and cost benefit. And I think sort of ROI wise, this costs, financial costs, very little to the organization. Because in every case I've seen the mentors are doing this for free. So maybe you have some admin costs, right? Maybe we had, we put a couple hundred partnerships through a year and we had part of an entry level person to handle the real admin of it, right? So like, in terms of the cost benefit, right? You're very little cost tremendous benefit in terms of retention, employee engagement. I mean, we could go as far as to say if we've reduced turnover by 1%, right? What does that equate to? And here we had this investment of not a big amount of money. So I think the return on investment is also significant here.

Dr. Brad Johnson: And Michelle, can I just add one thing? I love that point, and I want to reinforce that and let you know that I've seen, for example, an engineering firm make an hour with your mentee, a billable hour that says something, right? That says something to those professionals, hey, this is a really valuable activity and we're gonna pay you for this because it's got really significant return for us. So there are some good best practices out there. So thank you.

Brittany Hendriks: Definitely, definitely. One point I'll add here is there's a lot of really great calculators on this, including on our own site. So if you're wondering where to get started in terms of calculating the ROI we can help you with that. But I'll pass it off to Jay if there's anything you'd like to add here.

Jay Chaggar: Yeah. Already some fantastic points shared by both Michelle and Brad. I think there's two things that I want to add on. I think firstly really focus on communicating the benefits. It's important to communicate the benefits of participating in a mentorship program, focus on DEIB. This can include things like developing new skills, building relationships, and gaining exposure to different perspectives and experiences that you wouldn't have had otherwise. So I think communicating benefits is one that's really important. And then the second one is sharing success stories. I think sharing success stories from past mentorship programs can be a really powerful way to demonstrate the value if you were to participate in a program. I also think it can help build a lot of enthusiasm, excitement, and generate buzz amongst employees who may be on the fence about participating. And this is actually a common best practice we see a lot of our customers use when they're either launching a program or relaunching a program. You know, just what they really do is highlight user testimonials and truly tap into mentorship champions that they've had in their workplace. One of our companies that we've worked with a big enterprise company, they've even coined these people as super mentors, and that just highlights the value that they provide in the organization. And, it's come full circle where the super mentor is now in charge of helping run and launch some of these programs. So it really shows how you can help groom people and leverage them in marketing your programs and really making people join a program to get the value that is available to them.

Brittany Hendriks: Awesome. A lot of really great points made on this. I think one bucket definitely on the upside to an organization, and then also another on how you can properly recognize the people are who are participating and making a difference and use that to fuel a really meaningful change. So thank you to everyone. We have one final question here, and then we're going to open it up to the Q and A. I see lots of amazing comments coming through in the chat as well as in the Q and A. We're gonna get to those in just a moment. I really wanna make space for any final comments from the panelists. If you are in the position of someone in our audience now, what is your advice or anything that maybe hasn't been mentioned but you feel is important? And we'll start with Jay for this one.

Jay Chaggar: I love this question, but I think there's just two key takeaways to remember. The first one I think is so important, but just truly remember that mentoring is a process. There are always gonna be areas to improve, start small and grow from there. At Together, we love to implement what we call a crawl, walk, run framework with our customers and really work towards building and iterating programs and continue to help organizations further embed mentorship into the DNA of their organization. And tying back to earlier what Michelle said, you know, when you're iterating, you're taking in that feedback, you're understanding what's worked, what hasn't worked, how the environment may have changed, and that really shows that you're listening to the participants that are getting so much value out of these programs. And then the second takeaway and I think I'm gonna touch back on the relationship point again because I love it so much, but invest in the relationship and the rest will follow. I think it's so important that mentoring programs, and they really do thrive when relationships between mentors and mentees are authentic and they are supported. So by prioritizing the development of meaningful relationships between participants, everything else will truly fall into place.

Brittany Hendriks: Thank you Jay. Great summary. Brad over to you? Anything to add?

Dr. Brad Johnson: Yeah, just to touch on one issue. I have occasionally been doing a mentor training, right? Working, maybe it's a workshop and I'm interacting with one or two people in a larger group. And the thought bubble over my head will say something like, I wouldn't ever wanna see you mentor anybody because they don't have any interpersonal skills, they don't have any emotional intelligence. And can we just all admit that not everybody is cut out to be a mentor? They don't have the skillset fundamentally to do that, or they don't have a natural empathy or a caring orientation. So my advice, back to Jay's comment on super mentors who are on the other end of the continuum. Select your mentors carefully. Not only should you do some good training and up skilling, but remember not everyone is cut out for this. And if you wanna have real success in your program, choose the right people, people who are oriented this way, people who are already doing a lot of this because they love the work. And then give them opportunity to do more of this.

Brittany Hendriks: Fantastic. Thank you. Great point. Michelle, I'll leave you with the final word on this question.

Michelle Ferguson: Sure. Two thoughts and definitely, I was chuckling Brad with your comment because had to tell both our CEO and our CHRO that I thought there were better ways they could support the program.

Dr. Brad Johnson: I love that. Nice framing.

Michelle Ferguson: And better ways they could support it, right? Just because it, yeah, I think for a lot of reasons. So two things and like, this is my answer for almost everything. You know, upfront, figure out what your goals are, right? And they may change. And then revisit them and ensure what you're doing is consistent with your goals and your goals need to be smart goals. So it's not, we want more underrepresented groups and senior leadership. Like, what does that mean? You want this, right? I want this percent in this level roles, in five, whatever it is, right? So figure out what your goals are and then you can build the program around that. And then the other thing, and Jay sort of alluded to this, is like, be like Nike and just do it, right? I think sometimes we get to the, it's got to be all singing and all dancing and we're busy iterating, iterating, iterating. It's like, start with five partnerships in your Latino, you know, Latinx group. Like start with something and learn. Just get it started. Don't wait till it's perfect because it's never going to be perfect.

Brittany Hendriks: I love that point. And who knew Nike's slogan could apply to mentorship? That's fantastic. Amazing. Okay, well thank you so much Jay, Brad, Michelle, for all of your thoughts on these panel questions. It's now time to move into the open Q and A. We have just under 15 minutes for just an open discussion. I know there's already questions in the Q and A, so I'll start there, but if you haven't asked your question or put it within the Q and A specifically, it's a great time to do that. Let me just scan through. So we have a question from Meg on who is the traditional champion of a mentoring program within an organization, and then where/how does it get funded? Maybe Jay I'll start with you here since you work really closely with our admins and I'll pass it off to Brad and Michelle.

Jay Chaggar: Yeah, what I love about the traditional champion of mentoring programs, I think it's evolved so much over the past few years. Sometimes it started with HR individuals or L and D, but we've really seen it grow to so many different department leads. You know, some of my favorite expansion stories with a lot of these customers that we work with is, it might start with a general program headed by L and D, but it's expanded to an engineering program, a sales program, ERG programs. You know, really anyone can be a champion if they're, you know, somewhat passionate and see value to add a program within their specific department, ERG or field within their organization.

Brittany Hendriks: And on the latter point of how it gets funded, do you have any advice on that piece?

Jay Chaggar: You know, I think building a business case to share with leadership and some of the points that Brad, Michelle and Michelle made throughout about the metrics that are important and building out that business case with potential ROI and some of the calculators that we, you know, we have available on our site are just great ways that you can start building that business case to share with your leadership team to get funding, whether it's within your specific department or from an overall organizational level.

Brittany Hendriks: Perfect. Thank you Brad. Michelle, anything to add?

Michelle Ferguson: Yeah, I would just add one thing. And this actually I learned from CFO of a nonprofit I'm associated with. In terms of the financing, right? Because I'll admit we didn't have a CFO who was always, he was sort of very supportive generally of mentoring. He just wasn't supportive of spending money that, you know, a budget is a financial record of your priorities, right? And if this is a priority, to the whole point, like, why are we having this conversation? If DEIB is a priority, there's got to be money about it. If you're gonna launch a new program, a new product, and that's a priority, you're gonna put money behind it. So I think it's framing it as a business need, not an HR. This is a business imperative and to be successful, the bid's an imperative. You need money around it.

Brittany Hendriks: Definitely a great point. Thank you. Brad. Anything on this topic?

Dr. Brad Johnson: No, I thought that was excellent.

Brittany Hendriks: Amazing. Okay. One very quick question that I can actually answer is around the webinar recording. So the full length of the webinar has been recorded and we will send it out within 24 hours. So no need to panic. I know it's a fantastic discussion and you'll definitely have access to the full conversation very shortly. So thank you. I have a question that's come through and I think, Michelle, you're a great person to answer this one. It was around your comments on physical spaces, and the question is, are there any best practices or considerations for remote programs?

Michelle Ferguson: So I think particularly with remote and maybe even more so if you're working from home is right to get rid of the distractions, right? So that's, if you have a door, you close it, you shut down everything else that's going on, you don't have like your phone, right? So I do think that with remote, again, physical, its space and are you really committed? It's easier to be distracted on a screen, right? Because you don't see what I'm doing down here, or be like, go out of your way to like show that you're right. So I know it's hard, like with the kids running in, the dogs running in, but like to do everything you can to avoid those distractions.

Brittany Hendriks: Amazing answers. Thank you. This question is specific to the Together platform. So Jay, I'll ask you is the feedback that's gathered within together confidential, or is it shared with leadership?

Jay Chaggar: So the admins within the program do have access to the feedback and they can, you can sort of fence off who has access to view that. So in an essence, it is confidential, but only to those that you provide access to view that portion of the platform.

Brittany Hendriks: Okay, thank you. Next question I will ask Brad first. How can you maintain a perfect balance between diversity in the workplace as well as hiring the best talent?

Dr. Brad Johnson: I don't think that's a challenge at all. You know, when I think of diversity, and I'll just put it in terms of gender for the moment, because I have business leaders ask us all the time, why in the world where we prioritize going out and hiring and advancing women. We want the best people. And I have to sort of reframe this for them and say, you know, so let's take variables that probably matter to you, like IQ and emotional intelligence and creativity. Do you realize if you're not at 50 - 50 men and women, essentially what you're doing is taking half the people at the top of the curve on those three things and not including them in your workforce? How is that gonna affect your bottom line? It's a recipe for disaster in terms of whether or not you're competitive. So yeah, I'm surprised that we still have to sort of make that business case to leaders, but I think we still sometimes have to do that. So I don't see a conflict between really getting to diversity and representation at all levels up into the C-suite and being really effective and productive.

Brittany Hendriks: Couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you, Brad. That's an excellent answer. Awesome. The next question is more tactical. I'll ask Jay this one. What are best practices to get started if you wanted to launch a mentorship program?

Jay Chaggar: I'm going to echo what Michelle said and what Nike has said and just do it. I think getting started is the best way to go about it. There could be so much analysis paralysis when you're looking at questions to create who should be joining the program. I think once you start you'll really gain steam, you'll start to be able to use people as success stories and you'll really figure out what you need from that point. So I think just get started is really the best way that you can go about it with some structure. But again, there's so much value that comes as soon as those pairings start actually happening within your workplace.

Brittany Hendriks: Amazing. I am loving the questions that are coming in on like, how can we actually do this? It seems like the comments that have been made over the panel today have really resonated and a lot of people wanna take action. So that in itself is inspiring. One attendee has asked specifically how you can manage matching within together. So Jay over to you again. If you were to explain how matching works within a mentorship software what would you say?

Jay Chaggar: We have what's called a pairing algorithm that is extremely simple to use. What you just have to do is put in your criteria that you want to match mentees and mentors on and you can assign waiting’s to that criteria. And then the pairing algorithm is gonna work wonders in the backend and match the mentees and mentors that have the most amount of overlap based off of the decision criteria that you have set out from the beginning of your program. So really hands off and does a lot of the work for you. It's so funny, we've heard so many funny stories from admins prior to leveraging a software where one of my favorites is and admin told us that they literally had sticky notes on a wall of all mentees and all mentors, and they were just standing looking at the wall saying, I think this person would be good with this other person. And it's a very complex process, it's time consuming, and you really don't have a lot of data to those individuals when it's just a sticky note on a wall. So the pairing algorithm is great and it really takes into account those profile traits that you've gathered from your employees that are participating. Sorry, Michelle, you put up your hand.

Michelle Ferguson: Oh yeah, no, we had the big post-it notes around a big conference, a hundred of them.

Dr. Brad Johnson: Oh.

Michelle Ferguson: Yeah. And color coded and yeah, it was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Dr. Brad Johnson: I would rather go with Jay's E-Harmony for mentoring strategy. That sounds better.

Jay Chaggar: I love that. We forgot some great examples to leverage, but can we use Nike? Just do it. And the E-Harmony tag for internally.

Brittany Hendriks: That's amazing. It definitely seems to be sentiment that's resonating with the people that are joining. I'm seeing some comments in the chat. Instead of sticky notes, they use index cards, so a lot of creative uses of paper. But we'd love to introduce you to an easier way to do it. Okay, I see we only have two minutes left. There was a lot of questions in the Q and A and in the chat. Unfortunately we don't have time to get to all of them within this call. But we will take record of them and then reach out to you afterwards to make sure that you have the answers that you need. I do just wanna leave you with some additional resources. So we have a ton of resources on our website that I would point you to if you'd like to continue your learning. Some of them are white papers and then Michelle and Brad have both been really gracious in lending their own time for one-on-one interviews, and those are posted as well. And then finally, if you'd like to have a one-on-one personal conversation on how you might launch a mentoring program at your unique organization, we're always happy to chat and book some time one-on-one. So definitely reach out if that's the case. But before I do a final wrap up. I think the most important note here that I wanna leave you with is, this is an incredibly important discussion and we're very grateful to have you join us and be part of it. A special short shout out to our panelists today, Brad, Michelle, Jay, you did a fantastic job answering all of the questions today and we're grateful for you taking the time out of what I know are very busy schedules packed of with lots of events. So really appreciate it. Thank you. And then for all of the attendees today, you came out in great numbers and we're really grateful that you joined as well. So thank you to everyone for taking part and we will follow up with the recording as well. Some additional resources.

All Webinars