As part of Pearson’s #BeInBusiness initiative, Ashley Hind, Digital Support Services Manager at The Proud Trust, answers our key questions on the importance of mentoring.
Ashley is responsible for training and managing mentors at the LGBT+ Youth charity. Ashley shares key insights on how to support diversity and inclusion efforts and explores how mentors can inspire the younger generation.
Q: What do you believe the role of a mentor is in business and why is it important?
A: The role of a mentor is to support, guide and most importantly, listen to their mentee. Mentors can also provide positive representation in the workplace and the industry. This is something we really promote at The Proud Trust through our programmes, providing LGBT+ young people with a positive representation of identities in different careers, that they may not have felt were open or inclusive.
Q: What makes a good mentor?
A: A good mentor needs to be a great listener, giving their mentee the space and time to explore things for themselves. When training mentors as part of our Proud Mentors programme, we spend a lot of time looking at active listening skills to allow our mentors to facilitate conversations with their mentee while allowing discussions to be led by the young person. By empowering young people to explore their own thoughts and solutions, it gives them the confidence to replicate this in their future careers.
Q: How can having a mentor benefit a student?
A: Mentoring has a vast range of benefits. Countless studies have been conducted on the positive effects mentoring can have, from confidence, to mental health, to success. According to Moving Ahead (2017), 87% of mentors and mentees felt empowered and had greater confidence.
Our Proud Mentors programme is young person led, and each mentor-mentee pairing has different goals, from support with interview skills for education or employment to confidence-building or support with coming out at work or school. A key outcome for a lot of the young people we engage with is a supportive connection to other LGBT+ people, which they may not have had before, particularly in education or the workplace.
Q: How does mentoring support the development of diverse and inclusive businesses?
A: Inclusive mentoring programmes will ensure young people have the confidence to be their true selves in their education or workplace. Allowing them to grow and develop in their roles and therefore influence the future of the company and industry that they are part of. Don’t just take my word for it, there are stats to back me up.
According to Forbes (2019), mentoring programs boosted minority representation at the management level from 9% to 24%. Research by YouGov in the same year, also showed that 38% of female employees (in companies that have at least 30% women on their board) who have exposure to senior mentors believe they will make it to the board themselves, compared with just 21% of women from companies under 30% target.
Q: At what age do you think mentors can make the most difference and when would be a suitable time to start?
A: At any age and at any time. The most important thing for mentors is that they can offer support and guidance to their mentee and that they have the time to commit to their mentee for the duration of the mentoring programme. For young people, the most important thing is to be open with their mentor about their hopes for the future, even if they aren’t quite sure at the moment, it’s important to be honest so that the mentor can support them in the best way possible.
Mentorships in school have the power to impact the course of a student's academic and personal trajectories and the connections made through mentors can open doors to opportunities for young people. It is important though that the young person remains at the centre of the mentorship, ensuring their needs and ideas are listened to and remain an integral part of the progress and developments of the programme .
Q: How do mentors inspire future generations?
A: Mentors inspire future generations by giving them the time, space and support to explore their own pathways at their own pace. Allowing young people to grow in their skills and confidence in order to progress and develop on the pathway that is right for them.
Q: Do you have any lessons/ considerations for people considering implementing mentoring, particularly when focusing on creating a diverse and inclusive environment?
A: Ensure that young people are at the centre of the programme. Develop the programme with young people to ensure that their voices are shaping the offer you are creating and make sure that you are providing an inclusive offer to all young people through representative policies and procedures.
The Proud Trust has some really great resources on our website which could be really useful when developing programmes to ensure the mentoring is inclusive of LGBT+ young people: www.theproudtrust.org/trusted-adults/lgbt-inclusion/.
Q: What does the future of mentoring look like?
A: I hope that the future is one where all mentors and mentor providers offer fully inclusive programmes that give every young person access to a supportive mentor should they want or need it.
Accessibility and inclusivity are the key to this - the more programmes and schemes that prioritise inclusive practices, the better.
Q: How can students go about finding mentors? Can you recommend any methods to find mentors or mentoring programmes?
A: There are a lot of mentoring programmes out there and you should be able to find one that’s right for your students.
When looking for a mentoring programme, find out what your students want to get from a mentor. It might be that online mentoring, or in-person mentoring works best for your students, or that they are interested in a particular career or industry, or it might be that they want to connect with other members of their community. Listen to your students and their needs and go from there.
In addition to the Proud Mentors programme, here are just a few great websites to start your search for mentors:
For more information on The Proud Trust and the Proud Mentoring programme visit www.theproudtrust.org and www.theproudtrust.org/volunteer-as-a-proud-mentor/.
To find out more about Pearson’s #BeInBusiness initiative and their commitment to diversity and inclusion in business and education, please visit: www.go.pearson.com/beinbusiness and follow @PearsonSchools and #BeInBusiness.
At Pearson, our purpose is simple: to add life to a lifetime of learning. We believe that every learning opportunity is a chance for a personal breakthrough. That’s why our c.20,000 Pearson employees are committed to creating vibrant and enriching learning experiences designed for real-life impact. We are the world’s leading digital media learning company, serving customers in nearly 200 countries with digital content, assessments, qualifications, and data. For us, learning isn’t just what we do. It’s who we are. Visit us at pearsonplc.com.
About The Proud Trust
The Proud Trust is a lifesaving and life enhancing charity providing education, support and advocacy for LGBT+ young people and their communities. The Proud Trust delivers youth work and one-to-one support across Greater Manchester and Cheshire. The charity also runs a national training and inclusion programme for schools, Proud Connections digital help service and the Proud Mentors Programme for LGBT+ young people.