Abbott’s Best Practices for Mentoring Metrics

Success hinges on whether mentoring relationships are meaningful and bolster employee ambitions, skills and the company’s bottom line.

Success hinges on whether mentoring relationships are meaningful and bolster employee ambitions, skills and the company’s bottom line.

By Eve Tahmincioglu

There’s an ongoing debate on whether mentoring programs should be formal or informal, but in the end there’s only one thing that matters – whether or not they are meaningful.

“It’s less about the formality of the membership,” said Marlon Sullivan, divisional vice president, talent & development for Abbott, No. 14 on the 2016 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. “It’s about the meaningfulness.”

To achieve that goal, he added, you need to do some preliminary legwork.

Before Abbott sets up mentoring relationships, the company looks at how the employees involved are performing. “We measure both business performance and their individual aspirational performance,” Sullivan explained, “their ability to improve a technical skillset or expertise.”

Figuring out whether a mentoring pairing is relevant for all participants and the company requires some structure, he stressed. (Abbott is also among the Top 15 Companies for Mentoring.)

According to Sullivan, there are key elements every great program requires:

  • Goals. What do the mentor and the mentee hope to achieve, and how will it enhance performance, both for the individual and the business?

  • Timeliness. A timely structure that provides a cadence; whether it’s once a week, once a month, or once a quarter.

  • Metrics. They need to be measurable, providing a window into how the mentoring is working as well as the impact it’s having on the individuals, the business unit and the company.

“All of our employees have goals they define,” he noted. This is done before mentoring starts so they are able to measure how they perform going forward.

While mentoring pairs can come about informally, there are three typical structures at Abbott:

  1. Company-initiated. This is done using a talent management review process. “You have senior leaders around the table talking about business performance,” he said, and those leaders look at critical roles and gaps that exist. And then teams decide what type of mentor may be helpful for an individual and for the organization.

  1. Senior leader-initiated. This is when a senior manager takes it upon him or herself and says to an employee, “I want to mentor you.” A leader, Sullivan explained, has oversight for his or her team and may see something about an employee that shows a certain passion, for example. “We see those relationships flourish,” he added.

  1. Employee-initiated. Abbott recently launched an enhanced mentoring platform that allows employees to identify the type of mentor they want based on their background and technical expertise. “Then you can send a request to that mentor, who can accept or politely decline,” he said. “This allows for a seamless connection globally for all of our employees.”

To see the full discussion with Abbott’s Sullivan check out the video below, part of DiversityInc Best Practices’ video series, where top executives at the most diverse companies in the country share their insights and advice on how to make your organizations the best they can be.

The Differences Between Mentoring and Sponsorship

Randy Cobb, Director, Diversity & Inclusion, Southern Company and Matthew Hanzlik, Program Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Nielsen talk about the differences between mentoring and sponsoring and give insights into how their companies leverage each.


To view/download a PDF of the presentation click here.

To access a PDF of this presentation, click here.

04:18 – 05:09: Southern Company Introduction

05:09 – 07:12: Career Development and Empowerment

07:12 – 09:43: Who is My Career Manager

09:43 – 15:03: What is a Mentor, What are the Benefits

15:03 – 16:57: What Successful Mentoring Looks Like

16:57 – 21:29: What is a Sponsor, What to Look For in a Sponsor

21:29 – 22:52: Quick Reference on the Differences Between Mentoring and Sponsorship

22:52 – 26:32: Mentoring and Sponsorship Programs at Southern Company

27:05 – 29:50: Nielsen Introduction, Approach to D&I

29:50 – 33:10: How Nielsen Develops and Accelerates Talent

33:10 – 41:09: Nielsen's Diverse Leadership Network, Results

41:09 – 44:31: Nielsen's Senior Leader Sponsorship Program, Results

44:31 – 50:10: Keys to Success

50:10 – 59:12: Q&A

Mentoring Success Recipe

A strong mentoring program requires buy in from senior leadership, formal monitoring and opportunities for all employees at every level to participate.


Abbott talent vice president offers best practices including involvement from the top, formal tracking and an egalitarian approach.

By Eve Tahmincioglu

A strong mentoring program requires buy in from senior leadership, formal monitoring and opportunities for all employees at every level to participate.

That’s Abbott’s recipe for success when it comes to fostering successful mentor-mentee relationships, according to Vildan Kehr, the company’s division vice president of global talent acquisition.

Abbott, among the DiversityInc Top 15 Companies for Mentoring list, sees mentoring programs as a key tool for all employees in order “to build a long, productive career,” Kehr said. (Abbott is No. 14 on the 2016 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.)

“That’s why regardless of career stage, from entry level through senior executives, thousands of our employees globally take advantage of mentoring to achieve their development and career goals,” Kehr explained.

Whether it’s formal and informal training, she continued, "initiated by the employee to mentoring for members of our professional development programs and our employee resource groups, to executive mentoring for employees identified as high potential, we offer a variety of programs to meet the needs of our diverse workforce.”

The following is a question and answer with Kehr offering best practices on mentoring at Abbott:

Q. Do you use software to set up matches, monitor engagement, etc.?

A. Yes, we have an online tool that was developed by Abbott to match mentees and mentors. The matching criteria include language preference, development need, location, time zone and experience. The tool also gives us the ability to facilitate mentoring circles with mentees from different regions, and we can monitor utilization by country and division.

Q. How is senior leadership involved?

A. Mentoring is part of our culture and it’s embedded in our leadership behaviors. Furthermore, it makes good business sense and we’ve seen positive results from it. Our leaders have benefitted from it and know that mentoring future leaders is critical to the growth of the company. Our senior leaders all have assigned mentees as well as opportunities to select additional mentees through our formal mentoring tool.

How do you deal with pushback from employees who don’t want to participate, or keep folks engaged that drop the ball on mentoring, whether it’s the mentor or the mentee?

At Abbott, although mentoring is a part of our culture, it is not necessarily a mandate. However, we encourage employees to foster positive and relevant networks and relationships to be successful. Employees have the option to participate in mentoring as one of the channels to achieve this. We have found that employees that have engaged in mentoring tend to be more successful in their career growth. Our management is expected to support and participate in continuous mentoring for their employees, as well as others outside of their organization. Mentors and mentees that utilize our current mentoring tool receive reminders and have access to resources that help them develop a stronger mentoring partnership.

Q. How do you monitor success?

A. We monitor the effectiveness of our mentoring programs in multiple ways. Our global matching tool helps us determine the number of mentors and mentees that have signed up, the number of active partnerships and the number of global mentoring circles active at any given point, as well as collect participant feedback via a survey.

Also, we have seen that mentoring is invaluable for the success of new and future leaders. Take me for example. I’ve had the privilege of having multiple mentors at different stages of my tenure, and each brought a different perspective that helped me navigate my career. In return, I have been able to pay it forward with my mentees. To me, seeing my mentees progress through their professional and personal tracks and reach their desired goals is the real success story.

Q. Why is it so important for women to have mentors? Is a mentor more important than a sponsor?

A. Mentoring is important for everyone. For women, it can be very beneficial to gain additional exposure and knowledge on business practices. Through our Women Leaders in Abbott, numerous women leaders globally work together to offer mentoring, career development and sponsorship for future women leaders. By sharing their experiences from a cultural and business perspective, they help blaze the trail for future women leaders in our organization. It is a venue to learn and be inspired.

Mentoring is definitely a significant component of anyone’s career growth, because it offers the opportunity to gain valuable feedback and advice to learn how to navigate the organization and continually improve in their career. It also provides a relevant network that can be tapped into when help is needed.

Sponsorship is the next level of career engagement, and it provides employees with an advocate that can make sure they are recognized and given opportunities when appropriate. For example, depending on a specific employee’s career stage and goals, mentoring may be all that’s needed at that time. However, a sponsor can give added visibility for employees who need to gain critical career experiences or make critical moves in their career path. Both mentoring and sponsorship are important and go hand in hand.

Q. Can you share best practices when it comes to running a successful mentoring program?


• Make mentoring accessible to everyone at every level globally.

• Executive and manager support and engagement are critical for success.

• Embed mentoring in the company culture to make it the norm and not the exception.

• Promote the program as a development tool for career growth by sharing employee success stories.

• Be a role model by fostering the mentor-mentee relationship every single day as part of who you are and what you do.

Webinar: Mentoring Metrics

Sodexo experts offer best practices on the nuts and bolts of setting up and tracking mentoring pairs


There's a fine balance between creating entrepreneurial, organic mentoring pairs and using data to make sure it's the right match.

But it can be done, and done successfully, maintains Jodi Davidson, director of diversity and inclusion for Sodexo. (Sodexo is No. 6 on the DiversityInc 2016 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list, and among the Top 15 Companies for Mentoring.)

Joining Davidson was a mentee and a mentor who will discussed how it worked for them in their careers. They include Mia Mends, NORAM CEO for Sodexo's Benefits & Rewards business, an executive who found being mentored invaluable, and Joseph Cuticelli, CEO for Seniors, North America Sodexo, who has long mentored employees.

EY Mentoring Celebration Bolsters Minority Advancement

Event for mentors and mentees includes a celebrity chef, a marching band and Red Rooster Harlem.


Event for mentors and mentees includes a celebrity chef, a marching band and Red Rooster Harlem.

By Eve Tahmincioglu

To be the top company in the nation when it comes to mentoring, you need more than just innovative programs and leadership commitment.

Marcus Samuelsson, chef and owner of Red Rooster Harlem, speaks to EY's mentors at mentoring celebration in the backyard of his home.

Sometimes you have to take time out to celebrate and invigorate mentors and mentees by sharing delicious food and great music, and creating opportunities for fun.

Marcus Samuelsson and EY's Diana Solash walk through Harlem behind Marching Cobras of New York.

That’s just what EY — No. 3 on the DiversityInc 2016 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list and No. 1 on the Top 15 Companies for Mentoring list — did last week, with a celebration of mentoring held at the popular Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem, owned by food television star and mentoring advocate Marcus Samuelsson, who played an integral role in hosting the bash.

“The event recognized mentors, celebrated EY’s mentoring culture, and strengthened EY’s internal networks and sense of community, while giving back to the community in Harlem,” said Diana Solash, EY’s director, global and Americas diversity and inclusion.

The EY mentees on hand were from a wide range of career levels with many at the manager and senior manager levels, representing all business lines, including everything from advisory to core business services.

The mentees, many of whom were from the Tri-State New York area, said Solash, were “primarily ethnic minority mentees and part of EY’s ongoing efforts to enable the advancement of minority professionals into leadership.”

Samuelsson and Deborah Holmes, EY's American Director, Corporate Responsibility, and an EY mentor.

And the mentors included partners, principals, executive directors and directors, who are actively engaged in leading EY’s diversity and inclusion efforts as mentors, sponsors and professional network executive sponsors. They are all “recognized as inclusive leaders,” Solash noted.

About 45 mentors and 45 mentees attended the nearly five-hour affair, which included a procession through the streets of Harlem from chef Samuelsson’s home to his restaurant. And leading the way was a drum and dancing band called the Marching Cobras of New York.

EY accomplished its goal of celebrating mentoring and bringing mentors and mentees together, said Solash. Indeed, she added, “people stayed the very end and past the end, and were mixing and mingling.”

The event was scheduled on the heels of the Harlem EatUp! Festival (May 19-22), a festival EY sponsors and that chef Samuelsson has spearheaded as a way to bolster Harlem’s gentrification and provide funding for neighborhood development.





Curbing Diversity Pushback Among Employees

Companies who have a big-tent approach to promoting diversity can see less pushback from white managers.


Employers who have a big-tent approach to promoting diversity can see less pushback from white males.

By Eve Tahmincioglu

The CEO of a major tech company recently admitted in public that his leadership team received threats from white male employees over the firm’s diversity efforts.

While many see diversity as supporting the advancement of underrepresented employees and boosting the bottom line, there can be pushback from others who see diversity as a threat to their careers.

Clearly, threatening leaders is an extreme — but how does an organization mitigate potential pushback and help everyone understand that diversity lifts all boats?

Erect a Diversity Big Tent

It’s all about being inclusive, maintained Cyndi DiCastelnuovo, vice president of diversity and inclusion at TD Bank, No. 39 on the 2016 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. And that means not just being inclusive of women and minorities but of everyone, including white males.

“We run a lot of our programs specifically for diverse talent out of our business resource groups and those are open to everybody,” she explained. “Allies are able to join groups and participate in the programs.”

DiCastelnuovo sees it as a natural way to drive cross-cultural relationships and create allies in the bank’s resource groups.

“When using resource groups to make business decisions we have natural diversity at the table,” she shared. “Some of our most active resource group members don’t identify as a member of that particular community.”

Leaders Should Be Diversity Diehards

“Our business leaders and managers are out spreading the message,” DiCastelnuovo said.

TD Bank’s diversity team sends out mass communications about diversity programs in order to get everyone on board, and managers also engage in one-on-one conversations if needed.

Management throughout the organization has bought into diversity, she stressed, with “many of them using it to be successful in their roles.”

“For the most part,” she added, “our employees and especially our leaders understand the need for diversity.”

TD Bank’s best practices have created an environment where diversity is embraced, not feared.

Indeed, DiCastelnuovo said she has never heard of anyone threatening someone about diversity in her organization. But there are sometimes inquiries from employees about diversity initiatives, especially when they’re introduced.

“We get questions like, ‘What does this mean for me?’” she explained. “We try to make sure, when entering into a program, that all sides are educated on what they’re getting out of it.”

A question she gets often is about mentoring: “We did have somebody who said, ‘If I don’t identify as a minority, or a woman or a veteran, does that mean I don’t have the opportunity to be mentored or sponsored?’” The message back, she said, is always that all programs are open to everyone.

The best way to view diversity efforts, she noted, is that every employee can benefit.

“Even for white males,” she continued, “it opens up their perspective, helps them focus on their bias, and expands their network.”

Here are some additional resources to help you create a diversity big tent:

Meeting in a Box: White Men and Diversity.

Diversity Training: 8 Things to Avoid.

How to Get Buy-In From Middle Managers.

White Male Diversity Training: 5 Mistakes.

And don't miss DiversityInc's recent learning session -- recorded at our Top 50 Companies for Diversity event -- "Addressing Unconscious Bias" with guest speaker Lissiah Taylor-Hundley, diversity and inclusion strategist, Cox Enterprises.



Career Advice on Handling Unconscious Bias

Executives from TD Bank and Monsanto collaborate to help us understand what unconscious bias is, how and why it exists, and how to address it from both an individual and organizational standpoint. The webinar concludes with almost 20 minutes of Q&A.


How Executive Diversity Councils Yield Talent Results

Sodexo's Rolddy Leyva, VP, Global Diversity & Inclusion, talks about how his company's Diversity Leadership Council sets strategic priorities & performance expectations for D&I at the U.S. regional level and drives accountability for progress.