How we worked with Transport for London to create a mentor scheme
Transport for London (TfL) and Fujitsu launched an inter-company mentoring scheme – Reach – at Fujitsu’s London Office in 2018.
Through mentoring, coaching and giving advice from experience, Reach supports the diverse talent pipeline for senior leadership positions. Like Fujitsu, TfL is dedicated to Diversity and Inclusion and this made us the perfect community partners.
Why is this needed?
Studies have shown that across the UK, significantly more ethnically diverse employees than White British employees feel that career progression was an important part of their working life, and that many viewed mentoring as a positive tool to help achieve this career progression.
The Chartered Institute of Personal Development study also found that ethnically diverse employees were more likely to say that seeing successful role models like them, and greater diversity at senior levels, would help boost their career progression.
There is also a business benefit – organisations with the most ethnic and culturally diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability. This is because high-performing diverse teams are less likely to make decisions based on unconscious bias, are more innovative and more able to adapt to change.
Reach was created to help overcome the barriers identified in the research and to ensure future sustained organisational success.
How does the scheme work?
Reach had 2 focus points- Reaching out and reaching up:
- Reaching out: Each mentoring pair had a participant from TfL and Fujitsu – in total we had 7 mentors and mentees from each organisation, making 14 inter-company pairs in total. This connection to another organisation encouraged skills and experience to be shared, and new networks to be created.
- Reaching up: This focussed on supporting the diverse talent pipeline in developing their careers and reaching their potential. Through mentoring, coaching and giving advice individuals were given support to prepare them to reach senior leadership positions in the future.
What were the results?
Recognising and respecting diversity in the workplace creates high-performing inclusive teams which ultimately delivers value back to organisations through increased engagement, innovation and collaboration.
It is clear that Reach has had a positive impact on mentees in the first 3 months, with feedback from mentees showing that:
- ‘I can effectively network around any room’ increased 24%
- ‘I feel that I can be completely myself at work’ increased 15%
- ‘I feel that my career progression is in my control’ increased 9%
- ‘I feel confident in my role at work’ increased 7%
For me, the most encouraging feedback was that mentees felt that their career progression is more in their control. This shift in perception, along with the increased confidence in networking skills will mean mentees will take more direct actions to achieve their career aspirations, which as the research suggests is an important part of life.
I was keen to look at the impact Reach had beyond the statistics and asked all participants for feedback – and themes coming through matched the statistical data.
‘… his advice and encouragement has made me think more about the most important things in my life outside work to help me focus on what really matters in my career development… he keeps my overall best interests in mind and is insightful in setting priorities to achieve work life balance keeping my values in sight.’ – TfL Mentee
‘She is absolutely brilliant and am learning so much form her.’ – Fujitsu Mentee
In total, we have supported 14 people in progressing their careers, expanded the networks of 28 people and have been awarded a Transport for London 2018 Supplier Award under the category of – Best initiative for those under-represented in the workplace.
Going forward, we will launching a second cohort in 2019. From feedback we have received from cohort one, we have made some changes: we have shortened the scheme to 4 months and are providing session guides to provide a more structured approach to each mentoring session.
As an organisation, it has highlighted that our customers and partners have shared barriers and challenges, and by partnering together we can have a positive impact in supporting diverse talent.
My advice to other organisations thinking of doing something similar is to make sure you get the right community partner – an organisation who shares your values, and work together as one team with the shared goal of supporting diverse talent.
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