Mentoring and Diversity: An International Perspective

Chapter 9: Organizational case studies

Diversity by accident: London Borough of Ealing

Marianne Ecker1

When the London Borough of Ealing launched its pilot mentoring scheme in 1999, it was not particularly focusing on any racial or gender group, although it has a wide mix of backgrounds among its 7500 staff. It simply wanted to establish twelve mentoring pairs, from whose experience it could learn how best to spread the approach more widely within the authority. In the event, all the applicants to be mentees were women, primarily from clerical areas, while the mentors were both men and women from various departments and ethnic origins.

Like most boroughs in the UK, Ealing deals with a spread of community responsibilities ranging from housing and education to parks and street cleaning. Some of these activities are managed directly by the borough; others are contracted out.

Launching the scheme

The pilot was managed by a team of three people, an operational manager and two people from corporate development and training, with the backing of senior managers. They launched the scheme with a poster campaign and articles in the staff newspaper, asking people to put themselves forward to be either mentors or mentees (or both). The benefits promoted to mentees were that they would have a flexible development opportunity to discuss career and personal development choices in a confidential and supportive environment. For mentors, the intended benefits related to being able to hone their developmental skills out of the normal working routine. The programme was linked directly to a policy...

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