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How to create a diverse mentoring programme?

There is a lot out there about the importance of mentoring along the entrepreneurial journey. Its relevance can't be dismissed, as it evidently adds a competitive advantage for founders. Support programmes are increasingly eager to include mentor-mentee relationships into their offering mix, and despite it is becoming a much stronger part of support programmes, there are still many barriers, with one, in particular, being a major concern: How diverse the group of mentors needs to be?

Diversity in mentoring programmes is not just about gender balance and underrepresented backgrounds; but also about industry experience, specific skills and the whole relationship process. When analysing the impact generated by mentoring, there are substantial differences between general and industry-specific mentors, as well as between paid and volunteer-based mentoring.

These two components (speciality the mentors-reward) are often overlooked when thinking about mentoring. The truth is that having a diverse mentoring programme that fits every company is a huge challenge. Ventures are changing all the time and it doesn't seem sustainable, nor possible to have mentors that has knowledge on every single topic and expertise.

There are support programmes that have included a mixture between paid and volunteer-based mentoring, getting as result major flexibility, diversity and cost-effectiveness. And of course, the mentees get the significant opportunity of obtaining a diverse mentoring mix while helping them build a stronger support network. But still, programmes rarely have a mixture of both. However, this component greatly enhances the mentoring experience and adds well-needed diversity.

Next, is a list of the benefits and potential drawbacks of each type of mentoring, which helps understanding why a mixture of both could boost results & include diversity and uniqueness to mentoring programmes:

As seen above, diversity in mentoring is having a complementary mix between people and different types of relationships. Paid and Volunteer mentors are important.

Regarding the management of drawbacks, you can find partners to support you. NetMinds works with volunteer-based mentorship. We help you find volunteer mentors and put processes in place to manage relationships with minimum administrative tasks and let your entrepreneurial network grow organically. We also keep your network dynamic, encouraging people to know each other and find opportunities.

One question sparks from this blog: How diverse is your mentoring programme?