Mentoring and Diversity: An International Perspective

Chapter 2: Understanding diversified mentoring relationships: definitions, challenges and strategies

Belle Rose Ragins

Diversity has become a fact of life for most organizations. Increasingly, organizations are composed of a virtual mosaic of employees who differ on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, religion, disability and other group memberships that influence their view of the world, the workplace and each other. This diversity extends into mentoring relationships, which are also increasingly diverse. Consequently, mentoring researchers and practitioners are confronted with a number of challenging questions about diverse mentoring relationships. What does it mean to talk about diversity in mentoring relationships? How does diversity affect the development and functioning of mentoring relationships? How can we capitalize on the strengths of diversity within these relationships? What are the challenges faced by members of diversified relationships and what strategies can be employed to meet these challenges?

The purpose of this chapter is to answer these questions and to provide a lens for viewing the unique processes and outcomes involved with diversified mentoring relationships. The cases in this book illustrate these processes in action. What I seek to provide here is a framework or cognitive map for viewing and integrating these cases.

This chapter first examines the complexities involved with defining diversified mentoring relationships. I then delve into how diversity affects the initiation, development and functioning of mentoring relationships. Using existing theory and research, I then present some practical strategies for developing effective diversified mentoring relationships in organizations. I will conclude with an assessment of formal mentoring programmes as a strategy for developing diverse mentoring...

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