Mentoring Minority and Female Employees at Work

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Organizations are embracing workplace diversity more and more, making it a place where women and underrepresented groups are accepted. The efficiency of all employees will determine if these businesses are able to achieve their objectives. This performance is typically evaluated using a variety of techniques, including tracking employee advancement within a company. It is crucial to recognize that minorities and women have struggled to advance to higher positions. The reason is that when diversity is poorly managed, these individuals often feel excluded, which negatively affects their performance and results in a high turnover rate. Minorities and women are essential to an organization at the different levels hence the need to ensure that they are equipped with all the necessary skills to move up just like the rest. In this way, an entity can get to enjoy all the benefits brought about by diversity even at the higher levels. Concurrently, organizations are faced with the need to have leaders in place to replace the current ones in the future, which is realized through leadership development and advancement. This aspect also supports the need to enable minorities and women to advance within a firm. Any organization’s capacity to meet this goal can be enhanced through efficient mentoring of the minorities and women. Mentoring is instrumental in creating a framework for the successful advancement of minorities and women in addition to gratifying the succession planning needs of any entity.

Diversity Literature


The future success of many firms is dependent on how well they aid minorities and women workers to prosper. Mentoring is one of the ways of furthering this goal. It entails all developmental interactions that facilitate exchanges between no less than two people with the objective of professional or personal development (Moniz, 2008; George & Neale, 2006). There are two types of mentoring relationships that could be adopted. Firstly, there is formal mentoring, which involves a protégé being assigned to a mentor (George & Neale, 2006). This relationship is assigned a finite timeline such as nine months to a year with it being focused on particular objectives. The matching of the two parties usually entails compatibility between their profiles. Customarily, a mentor is at least one level higher than the protégé, but a peer could also be given this task. The advantage of this association is that it avails important people within an entity that possess particular skills that are imperative for the one being mentored (Moniz, 2008). In this way, a more focused approach is realized. Also, it enables the inclusion of all individuals besides amplifying the chances for a successful program (Moniz, 2008). A significant shortcoming of this approach is the protégé may not capitalize on other sources with the exception of the assigned mentor.

Secondly, there is informal mentoring, which is characterized by a naturally occurring relationship between protégé and mentor whereby either of them can initiate it (George & Neale, 2006). It may last an extended period besides its being based on an emotional commitment. Typically, this relationship comes about when two persons meet and realize they have mutual interests. In this way, an affiliation develops, and one party takes up the role of listening and availing advice to the other. The advantage of this relationship is that the mentor may help one to realize their potential and gain the impetus to rise through the ranks in the organization (Moniz, 2008). There exist some shortcomings of this type such as perceived favoritism for some workers (Moniz, 2008). The mentor chosen by the protégé may not have the necessary technical skills to accomplish this task whereby it will be challenging for them to utilize the suitable strategy relative the protégé’s development level (Moniz, 2008). Also, the emotional connection may bring about unrealistic expectations if the mentor is not well trained. A mentor may even attempt to craft a clone that models them instead of enhancing the protégé’s chances of becoming who he or she can be.

Irrespective of the type of mentoring relationship adopted, there are two functions that the relationship must fulfill. The first one is the career function. Here, the mentor deals with areas that are linked to the workplace (Moniz, 2008). A mentor offers sponsorship whereby they actively nominate them for desirable horizontal moves and promotions via aiding the protégée to develop a good reputation. Also, a mentor is instrumental in providing exposure by assigning duties that will help the mentee develop relationships with vital figures in the organization. Coaching is also done whereby the mentee is equipped with the aptitudes necessary to successfully navigate the firm. Additionally, a mentor should offer protection whereby a mentee is shielded from potentially damaging contact. Moreover, it is upon the mentor to avail challenging assignments to enable further training and feedback on performance.

Another one is the psychosocial function. Here, areas associated with the protégé’s personal development are dealt with (Moniz, 2008). A mentor acts as a role model by availing a model that the protégé can emulate by imitating the attitudes, demeanor, and values, which have helped the mentor to advance within the firm. Also, a platform for acceptance is established. The mentee gets support and encouragement in addition to basic trust being created. The mentor sees the value of their input for the organization, which further boosts their performance. An additional role is that of counseling whereby the mentee can share their concerns and doubts that may be detrimental to their career accomplishment. They gain insights that eliminate any of these uncertainties. Furthermore, a mentee gets a friend via the continued mutual understanding with the mentor, which helps in feeling like a peer thus boosting their performance and likelihood of staying at the firm. Minorities and women should undergo both career and psychosocial mentoring, which will equip them with the necessary skills to bring about optimal performance in addition to helping them advance within the organization.

Theoretical Approach to the Mentoring Relationship

There are different theories that are important in comprehending how to facilitate efficient mentoring connections. To start with, there is the social network theory, which is concerned with the interaction and collaboration witnessed between staff members (Krause, Croft, & James, 2007). Organizations should endeavor to ensure the optimal creation of social networks within its ranks. This investment will amplify interactions between individuals thus increasing the level of connectedness among its employees. In so doing, it will bring about persons that are willing to assist each other thereby enhancing the organization’s productivity. Therefore, this approach will facilitate the creation of informal relationships among workers, which will aid in the development of minorities and women (Krause, Croft, & James, 2007). When senior personnel gets to access information regarding an employee’s social characteristics, they manage to employ them as a tool for influencing and augmenting career planning. This information is instrumental in the identification of career goals and when proposing training and learning interventions that can aid in accomplishing these objectives. Hence, the career and psychosocial functions of the mentoring relationships can be realized.

Also, there is the rational emotive behavior therapy model. It is instrumental in acknowledging self-defeating notions, challenging the rationality of such feelings, and substituting them with more productive ones (Dryden, 2005). On the mentee’s side, particularly minorities and women, he or she may hold negative emotions relative to their advancement within a firm. A mentor should endeavor to identify them and resolve them thereby aiding the protégé to accomplish their goals and further those of the organization. On the mentor’s side, irrational beliefs may deteriorate the mentoring relationship. They include being respected, protégés never disappointing or leaving, and the relationship should always be enjoyable. Being aware of such notions is essential for mentees to enable them to navigate this relationship successfully.

Thirdly, there is the critical race theory, which is instrumental in advocating for individuals with the minority status. It highlights the different aspects related to discrimination and disenfranchisement in addition to furthering the goal of giving voice to victimized persons (Westray, 2010). There are various tenets of this model. The first one is that of viewing racism to be usual owing to it being systemic (Westray, 2010). The second principle is that of interest convergence whereby white people can endure undertakings by other races meant to achieve racial justice as long as such activities do not conflict with the interests of the former (Westray, 2010). Also, there is the social construction tenet, which postulates that race is not linked to any biological reality (Westray, 2010). The last one is that there is a presumption that the minority status provides competence to such individuals to talk about race and racism (Westray, 2010). Through this theory, it is possible to acknowledge the existence of inequities within an organization. With the help of the different tenets, it is possible to evaluate a mentoring relationship and see if it is helping minorities to advance.

Diversity Training

This training will benefit the organization since it promotes positive intergroup interaction, diminishes prejudice, and imparts others that are different from others on how to work together efficiently (Tamkin, 2002). It is imperative for organizations looking to help minorities and women in its workforce to advance. By adopting this approach, people can be ready to mentor other workers irrespective of their backgrounds or gender. There are different categorizations of diversity training that can aid in the realization of this objective. The first one is that of improving knowledge. Ignorance is considered to be a primary root of prejudice. It is a common belief that most people are fair, but can take part in discrimination accidentally via ignorance concerning minority cultures and the magnitude of bias (Tamkin, 2002). Hence, availing factual information is perceived as a viable tactic of amplifying attentiveness about unsuitable earlier demeanor, augment tolerance of minorities, and amend conduct at the workplace. The different cultural aspects that may be addressed comprise history, beliefs, practices, knowledge. Most training on diversity highlights the raising of awareness (Tamkin, 2002). Through the promotion of knowledge and comprehension of minority groups, discrimination can be addressed in three primary ways. They comprise people personalizing minorities and viewing them as equals, the reduction of the doubt of how to interact with them, and a reduction in bias through the acknowledgment of injustice (Dovidio et al., 2004).

Diversity training is also instrumental in the transformation of attitudes. Attitude change can be realized through access to accurate information (Pedersen & Barlow, 2008). Negative stereotypes in addition to the high degrees of prejudice are usually brought about by the false beliefs that people have concerning others (Paradies, Chandrakumar, Klocker, Frere, Webster, Burrell, & McLean, 2009). Conversely, they can be offset by precise information about minority groups. Nonetheless, attitudinal change may fail to be realized in this way. The reason is that emotions significantly reinforce prejudice in addition to the interpretation of information and experience being biased (Dovidio et al., 2004). The two aspects serve to strengthen deep-rooted beliefs, which cannot be reversed by the availing of factual information. Hence, the success of information sharing is reliant on the degree to which individuals are dedicated to their perceptions. When they have extreme adverse outlooks accompanied by an intense enthusiasm to the associated principles, awareness training will prove inefficient. However, those that are weakly dedicated to their perceptions have a higher probability of learning from fresh information. Also, programs meant to alter attitudes can be employed to directly challenge any stereotype and prejudice that leads to race-based discrimination (Paradies et al., 2009). Such programs try to show the way concealed manifestations of past philosophies infiltrate culture in workplaces.

The Glass Ceiling

In some organizations, there are artificial barriers that inhibit qualified minorities and women from moving up the management levels (Corsun & Costen, 2001; Harlander, 2014). These restrictions are in no way physical, but they tend to be attitudinal whereby they are facilitated by unconscious misconceptions and stereotypes. With time, such persons have progressed and occupied senior executive positions. However, not all firms have established aggressive initiatives meant to eradicate any bias in addition to availing a supportive environment that is instrumental in the development of women and minorities (Harlander, 2014).


The workforce in the imminent times will be vastly more diverse whereby a substantial number will be made up of minorities and women. Also, fashioning an environment that appeals to, maintains, and supports the most talented workers is a critical strategy. Hence, firms will have to aggressively pursue these goals through acknowledging and having open discussions about minority and gender issues in the workplace. Remaining silent about them will only lead to the continued practice of bias, which will just discourage minorities and women from advancing within the firm. Also, managers must engage in initiatives meant to develop and aid workers to realize their full potentials. This achievement can be made possible through effective leadership and diversity management. In so doing, an inclusive workplace can be created in addition to the progressive development of every work being instituted. In such an organization, managers will always be preoccupied with ensuring that their employees are as prosperous as they can be relative to their qualifications, competencies, abilities, and goals.

Regarding the glass ceiling, several steps can be taken to mitigate the situation. Firstly, there is the need to note that there are no biological differences between whites and other races. Hence, there should be no policies or practices that are instituted whereby people are treated differently owing to their color or ethnicity. The only biological dissimilarities are between women and men. Any policies that address the two genders differently ought only to accommodate women during their pregnancy and birth. Having babies does not mean that they are not committed to a job, and proper planning will not affect the quality of the job. Occupations should also accept parenthood as an integral function, and enhance flexibility so that parents can be productive at the firm and be responsible and involved parents at home. Additionally, companies must acknowledge that the traditional workplace is not encouraging to minorities and women. In this way, a more accommodative culture can be established whereby any subtle policies can be eradicated and any harmful behaviors done away with.


In conclusion, it is evident that mentoring helps in crafting a framework for the prosperous advancement of minorities and women besides assisting to satisfy an organization’s succession planning needs. Mentoring involves any developmental interaction that enables exchanges in the workplace with the objective of professional or personal development. The future success of any entity is dependent on their efficiency in equipping minorities and women with the skills and environment necessary to prosper and advance within the organization. There are two types of relationships that can be instrumental, which comprise formal and informal mentoring. There are two functions that the mentoring relationship must fulfill, which are career and psychosocial functions. Also, there exist different theories that are paramount in facilitating productive mentoring connections including the social network theory, the rational emotive behavior therapy model, and the critical race theory. Additionally, there is the aspect of diversity training, which will be paramount in enhancing the prospering of minorities and women. Furthermore, there is the presence of artificial barriers in some organization, which inhibit the progression of minorities and women. Lastly, some recommendations have been postulated on the way to ensure optimal development of all employees.


Corsun, D. L., & Costen, W. M. (2001). Is the glass ceiling unbreakable? Habitus, fields, and the stalling of women and minorities in management. Journal of Management Inquiry, 10(1), 16-25.

Dovidio, J. F., Ten Vergert, M., Stewart, T. L., Gaertner, S. L., Johnson, J. D., Esses, V. M., ... & Pearson, A. R. (2004). Perspective and prejudice: Antecedents and mediating mechanisms. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30(12), 1537-1549.

Dryden, W. (2005). Rational emotive behavior therapy. Encyclopedia of cognitive behavior therapy, 321-324.

George, Y. S., & Neale, D. (2006). Report from study group meetings to develop a research and action agenda on STEM career and workforce mentoring. American Association for the Advancement of Science Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs.

Harlander, S. K. (1996). Breaking through the glass ceiling: an industrial perspective. Journal of animal science, 74(11), 2849-2854.

Krause, J., Croft, D. P., & James, R. (2007). Social network theory in the behavioural sciences: potential applications. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 62(1), 15-27.

Moniz, D. C. (2008). Leadership development: The relationship between successful mentoring relationships and exemplary leadership practices among women protégés within the United States Navy (Doctoral dissertation, Capella University).

Paradies, Y., Chandrakumar, L., Klocker, N., Frere, M., Webster, K., Burrell, M., & McLean, P. (2009). Building on our strengths: a framework to reduce race-based discrimination and support diversity in Victoria: Full report.

Pedersen, A., & Barlow, F. K. (2008). Theory to social action: A university‐based strategy targeting prejudice against Aboriginal Australians. Australian Psychologist, 43(3), 148-159.

Tamkin, P. (2002). A review of training in racism awareness and valuing cultural diversity. Home Office.

Westray, K. L. (2010). Mentoring outcomes for people of color in the workplace (Doctoral dissertation, uga).

February 14, 2023

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