Mentorship usually means seeking guidance from someone with experience and expertise you don’t have.
Mutual mentoring is like mentoring, but the relationship goes both ways. It’s an opportunity for two people to build a relationship and learn from each other, without hierarchy getting in the way.
Our Quality Assurance Lead Elizabeth proposed we try out mutual mentoring, to help non-Black senior leaders learn more about the experiences of our Black colleagues. In turn, they share guidance and offer support with their careers.
Over the past year our Director of Customer Operations Steve partnered with both Elizabeth, and Isaac, a Financial Crime Expert. They’ve been meeting regularly to discuss the big events happening in the world, and also chat through more personal things like their backgrounds, lived experiences and to get feedback and guidance.
Steve Denison, Elizabeth Ajala and Isaac Ketan having a mutual mentoring chat ☕️
“In areas where Steve needs advice and guidance – it could be about race, religion or community – I'm there to help. Steve in turn mentors me around my work, from guidance on how to answer interview questions, to discussions on where I'd like to take my career. We sometimes just have a chat too!
“We've built a strong and honest relationship which lets us speak freely about race equality issues. And I think removing the apprehension to discuss sensitive topics helps us come to solutions faster.”
“Steve has made diversity and inclusion a priority in his role, which is his responsibility as a leader. He’s stepped up, asked me for advice and actively demonstrated allyship. I’ve also gained great value as I can ask advice or guidance from a friend and a colleague without intimidation.
“You can’t truly understand the experiences of different communities without immersing yourself in their lived experiences. It also means mentors can understand their own opportunities and privileges.”
“I wanted to improve how I showed up to and worked with people from different backgrounds, whether it was a different culture or race. And I wanted to understand my privilege, so I could be a better leader.
“I believe Isaac and Elizabeth are comfortable talking to me and challenging me. I don’t feel defensive in these conversations but empowered to improve.”
The success of these relationships show how important mutual mentoring can be to help shape both our professional and personal journeys - and we’re excited to include more of it in our future race inclusion activities!