Mentoring and Diversity: An International Perspective

Chapter 3: Establishing and sustaining a formal mentoring programme for working with diversified groups


David Clutterbuck

The extensive literature on both mentoring and diversity and the emerging literature on diversity mentoring might be expected to have provided a solid base for discussion of good practice, in terms of both individual relationships and the management of structured programmes. In practice, this does not seem to be the case. Both anecdote and academic analysis are often contradictory, confusing and sometimes plain unhelpful, whether they deal with individual informal relationships or with structured schemes (programmes).

One of the main reasons for this is the problem of definition. There is little real consensus about the definition of either mentoring or diversity. There are at least 100 definitions of mentoring in the literature, ranging from very hands-on to very hands-off descriptions. Case studies and research studies tend to make different assumptions about:

  • whether the relationship is in-line or off-line (i.e. within or outside the direct reporting relationship)

  • the appropriate gap in hierarchy level or experience between mentor and mentee

  • the level of formality/informality in the relationship and in the programme

  • the purpose of the relationship

  • roles and responsibilities of mentor and mentee

  • the use of power and influence by the mentor on the mentee s behalf

  • distinctions between coaching, mentoring, counselling, tutoring and facilitating

  • whether the mentor is internal or external to the mentee s organization.

Where these assumptions are clearly articulated, research can provide useful insights into the dynamics of relationships and programme management. Unfortunately, the vast majority of research on both sides of the Atlantic fails to define...


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