Mentoring and Diversity: An International Perspective

Chapter 4: Building and sustaining the diversity mentoring relationship


David Clutterbuck

Whether the mentoring dyad comes together informally or is arranged by others, the same general principles apply in making the relationship work. Both parties have to commit, to share and to develop understanding. Both parties share responsibility for managing the relationship and ensuring that it succeeds.

Before we examine what is involved in managing the relationship, however, we need to establish what we mean by success. Although this was discussed briefly in the previous chapter, with regard to the programme objectives, success in terms of the relationship is a much more diverse and individual entity. In a previous attempt, by one of the authors, to create a widely acceptable measure, relationship success was defined as when:

  • both parties experience significant learning as a result of their dialogue and

  • both parties feel that the quality of the relationship was high, particularly in terms of supportiveness (by the mentor) and thoughtfulness (in all meanings of the term, by the mentee).

The emphasis on both elements of the definition is deliberate. If the two people get on well together but do not extract much in the way of learning, then all that has been established is a friendship. If, on the other hand, there is learning but low quality of interpersonal behaviours, then the relationship is more akin to that of tutor. To be a genuine mentoring relationship demands both quality of relationship and depth of learning.

It is also appropriate to re-emphasize what we mean by diversity. As several...


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