Mentoring and Diversity: An International Perspective

A case study from SAS Sweden

Christina Jellbring Klang6

When SAS, the Scandinavian Airline, set out to create a mentoring programme, it did not have diversity issues as its highest priority. It simply wanted to support the development of leaders. Although the scheme soon evolved to include a strong measure of cross-gender mentoring, SAS perceives diversity in the wider sense of using the talents of people of different backgrounds.

The background of this initiative was a request from SAS top management in spring 1992, to investigate the possibility to establish a formal mentor programme in SAS, not only for the existing target group Management Trainees (which had mentorship in its development-programme since 1991), but also for other leaders .

The purpose at this early point was that mentorship in SAS shall through a comprehensive professional and human way secure the continuous development of leaders in accordance with the goals and strategies of SAS . When the mentor programme was established in 1994 a new formulation of purpose, which is still valid, was made, as follows:

  • The leaders shall develop themselves, personally and professionally, towards a supporting leadership (SAS term).

  • The leaders shall widen their networks outside the own division.

  • The leaders shall deepen their knowledge about SAS.

Designing the programme

My colleague Robin Tamm-Buckle and I made about forty interviews, mostly with top management, partly to find out if the SAS environment was suitable for the programme and partly to create an understanding in the company that the programme was under...

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