Diversity and mentoring: what are the benefits?
Rémi Zunino
Rémi Zunino

Diversity and mentoring: what are the benefits?

Mentoring can be defined as a special and personal relationship between a mentor, a more experienced person, and a mentee. The objective of this relationship is to allow the mentee to better position himself in his current role and to promote his personal/professional development in the long term. Why is this practice particularly appropriate in the context of programs aimed at accelerating gender diversity in companies?

Aude Bohu, Deputy CEO and Executive Coach at Talentis explains everything to us!

What is the origin of the term “mentoring”?

Aude Bohu: “The term “mentoring” is quite old. It comes to us from ancient Greece, since it was Odysseus, when he went to war, who had entrusted the education of his son Telemachus to a mentor.

So the origin of mentoring is this: someone who has experience, a certain seniority, a certain wisdom, who will share what he knows, his knowledge, his experience with someone who is less experienced in a certain field.”

Why is mentoring particularly appropriate in the context of gender diversity programs?

“One of the components that we are seeking to develop as part of these programs to accelerate the development of female talent and their accession to positions of greater responsibility, is in particular visibility, the ability to work on one's network, the ability to adopt a strategic posture and also this desire to project yourself and reveal all your ambition. This is why the mentoring approach is particularly suitable. It makes it possible to put a mentee in contact with a mentor who will support him in the work of these various themes: network, visibility, knowledge of the group, decoding political games, etc...”

What are the key factors for the success of a mentoring approach?

“A successful mentoring approach is a mentoring approach that is structured. When talking about key success factors, the first thing is really to make sure that you have set goals with measurement indicators.

Then, what is important is to establish the topics or themes on which the mentees and their mentors will work as part of this approach. In other words, we don't leave subjects completely free.

Afterwards, it will be a question of having the mentees work on the determination of individualized objectives in relation to these themes, so that they approach their mentoring process, prepared, with clear objectives.

The idea is that the mentee is in charge of her mentoring. It is not the mentoring of the mentor, it is the mentee who is in charge of her mentoring and who must take the leadership over it.

It is also important that the pair training is well-matched. Ideally, the less people know each other, the better. The idea is when you are at the level of a group, it is to identify a mentee and a mentor who are not in the same environment, since one of the subjects, within the framework of diversity programs, will be to expand your network, to put yourself in the visibility of other people and people who will count. But also working on a career project that may be more open than the one I thought of so far.

So it's interesting to have people who are in environments that are a bit remote, even if they share a common organizational culture.

The last step for successful mentoring: training mentors to be mentors. It is not that simple, in the end, for a manager, overnight, to change his posture, to no longer be in the decision, to no longer be in the evaluation, to no longer be in the management. It will be a question for this leader to put himself in a position of welcome, of mirror, of benevolent challenge, to hit the ball, to listen to the mentee and to be at the same time a mirror, a resource, a “guide”.

The posture is quite different and it is not always easy for leaders to abandon everything they experience on a daily basis, because sometimes there can be this omnipotence syndrome: “I know how to do it.”

Training mentors is therefore key. With regard to the posture but also the subject, because what is the magic of a mentoring process? This is because we not only develop mentees, but also the mentors themselves who learn a lot. Mentoring will challenge their managerial practice and their leadership practice.

And then, for organizations, what does mentoring allow? It makes it possible to retain talent and to value managers in their role. And it also makes it possible to do cross-generational or cross-gender activities, in this case in a mixed approach, and therefore to streamline communications, to reinforce feelings of belonging and to have people who feel much more committed, in the end, to the company's project.”

Can mentoring become an “alibi” approach?

“In fact, it could become more alibi than any other approach. For example, organizing leadership seminars for women, to develop their soft skills, in particular to work on their professional projects, to work on their skills to “let people know” is often a prerequisite in a mentoring approach. If I only do a mentoring approach, I may be a bit “poor” and a bit “weak” in what I am looking to develop with my female talents, and as a result, in the results I will obtain in terms of accelerating their careers and in terms of setting their projects in motion.”

Why use a company like Talentis as part of a mentoring — diversity approach?

“Using Talentis for this type of mentoring approach allows it to be fully connected to other modalities as part of a program to develop female talent. And the other modalities may be individual coaching, collective coaching, co-development, etc. So there will be a more complete, more global approach in the way we implement it.”

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