How not to mentor a diverse person!

I was speaking to a mentor the other day who is in one of my programs. His comment was something to the effect of:  "I'm having a little bit of an issue with my mentoree at the moment. She's a great employee with lots of potential but I think she is not as assertive as she should be to get ahead. I've been suggesting that she be more assertive but finding that she seems to resist my advice.  I'm not sure that I can be helpful?" My response:  "Do you think that you may be inadvertently trying to make her more of a white male rather than exploring what would work for her?" He had an "Aha" moment! A key element in diversity mentoring is making listening and respecting the uniqueness of the individual person rather than giving advice. This way, a mentor avoids the unconscious effort to equate what worked for him/her and what will work for the mentoree. Too often, when white males mentor women or people of color, they provide advice geared more to aping the mentor's behavior rather than discovering, in partnership with the mentoree, what will truly work for them. So when you're mentoring someone, don't look in the mirror-look through the clear glass!


Topics: Mentoring Programs, Mentors & Mentorees, Mentoring Best Practices