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Mentoring Thrives With Defined Goals, Trust

Top companies for mentoring - EY and KPMG - offer tips on building successful mentoring relationships.


Top companies for mentoring - EY and KPMG - offer tips on building successful mentoring relationships.

By Sheryl Estrada

A mentoring program can bolster career advancement among underrepresented groups but the most successful ones are built on a foundation of goal setting and trust between the mentor and mentee.

Diana Solash

“Mentoring relationships can accelerate your professional growth,” said Diana Cruz Solash, director, global and Americas diversity and inclusion for EY. But setting goals for the mentor and mentee, and building trust are critical.

EY (no. 3 on DiversityInc’s 2016 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) and KPMG (no. 16) are top companies on the 2016 DiversityInc Top 15 Companies for Mentoring. And both focus on key best practices to help ensure their programs hit the mark, whether formal or informal.

Latoria Farmer

“Mentoring supports personal growth and professional development, and is a valuable mechanism to help individuals fulfill their career aspirations,” said Latoria Farmer, executive director, diversity and corporate responsibility for KPMG. But for a relationship to thrive, both the mentor and mentee should have defined goals.

Here are some tips:

Goal setting

Whether it’s a formal or casual mentoring program, relationships will end up meandering if there is no structure or goals, even small goals, established so both the mentor and the mentee know where they’re heading.

“Be explicit about your goals and the structure and roles for the relationship,” Solash explained.

She said you need to ask:

  • What do you each hope to gain from the relationship?
  • How will you structure your meetings (i.e., frequency, length, in-person or phone) and who will initiate the meeting?
  • What are your expectations of each other? For example: The mentee will come prepared with an agenda and will confide, listen and act.

“The mentor will listen, instruct, challenge and reflect,” she explained. “Explicit, up-front communication sets the stage for better mentoring relationships.”

And both mentor and mentee have to be open to the relationship, advised KPMG’s Farmer.

 A starting point for having the right mentoring relationship is being mentor-ready – having clearly defined objectives such as getting acclimated to a new team, identifying and strengthening key skills required for career advancement, or reengaging at work after a leave of absence,” she said.

Mentoring Maxims

Mentoring relationships can be casual, but that doesn’t mean skipping establishing guidelines for the give and take.

“Mentors and mentees should immediately establish ground rules around confidentiality, frequency of communication, and trust,” Farmer said. “This becomes critical so mentors can provide personalized feedback and encouragement, and mentees have a safe environment to ask questions.”

Building Trust

A big part of making a relationship work is focusing on finding ways to build trust and confidence in each other.

Solash suggested sharing experiences “to identify key connections and forge a deeper bond, while providing more opportunities for professional guidance.”

“Agree on what you can share outside of the relationship and what you will keep in confidence,” she continued. “Listen intently to each other, and follow-through on your commitments. Close the loop by sharing the outcomes of your actions.”

A Two-Way Street

Too often we think about mentoring as only benefitting the protégé, but it goes beyond that, it benefits the mentor and the whole organization.

“Organizations that launch mentoring programs should emphasize the mutual benefits for both the mentor and the mentee,” Farmer noted.

Mentees, she continued, “acquire and enhance knowledge, skills, and perspectives. Mentors invest in developing and helping to retain talent vital to their organization. Mentors also are an integral part of the employee support ecosystem along with performance managers and other business leaders.”

And for the mentee, Solash added, “getting a different point of view is one of the biggest benefits of a mentoring relationship – for both the mentee and mentor.”


Advice on Developing and Managing a Successful Career

Executives from AT&T, EY, Marriott International and Wells Fargo give career advice on how to develop and manage a successful career.

At the 2018 DiversityInc Top 50 event, more than 400 people were in attendance during the day to hear best practices on effectively managing diversity and inclusion.

Moderator: Shane Nelson, VP, Editor, DiversityInc Best Practices


  • Melissa Corwin, Vice President - HR, Diversity & Inclusion, AT&T
  • Ted Acosta, Americas Vice Chair, Risk Management, EY
  • Kimberly Reed, Vice President, Human Resources – Global Finance and Global Design, Marriott International
  • Lisa Stevens, Executive Vice President, Regional Banking Executive, Western Region, Wells Fargo

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.

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.

Diversity in Minutes: Best Practices Video Series

Diversity in Minutes is DiversityInc’s new video series tailored for busy professionals looking for best practice advice on a host of topics and issues, everything from unconscious bias to the metrics of mentoring.


Do you want to understand unconscious bias and how to deal with it?

Do you want to know how metrics can bolster your mentoring program?

Do you want advice on how to recruiting women into tech jobs?

Diversity in Minutes is DiversityInc's new video series tailored to busy professionals looking for best practices on a host of topics. We talk to thought leaders at the most diverse organizations in the country and get their insights on creating more inclusive and more successful organizations.

(Is there a question, topic or  issue you want addressed in a Diversity in Minutes video? Let us know at: etahmincioglu@diversityinc.com.)


Work-Life Management, Not Balance: Wyndham Worldwide's Chief Diversity Officer Patti Lee explains her insights on the "art" of work-life management and gives advice on how women can appropriately ask for flexibility.


What to Do About Unconscious Bias: Lissiah Hundley, diversity and inclusion strategist for Cox Enterprises, shares her thoughts on the realities of unconscious bias in the workplace, how to face it head on and best practices for overcoming it.


Measuring Mentoring: Marlon Sullivan, talent and development divisional vice president, Abbott, offers his key strategies for using metrics to bolster mentoring and its effectiveness.


The Women-in-Tech Imperative: Rita Mitjans, chief diversity and corporate social responsibility officer, ADP, makes a case for why it's so important to get more women in technology, including everything from the design perspective they offer to making the workplace more diverse.


Mentoring Basics: Rosalia Thomas, area leader for human resources at IBM, offers mentoring basics on how to create the best mentoring relationships.


Recruiting Women in Tech: Rita Mitjans, chief diversity and corporate social responsibility officer for ADP, offers her strategies for recruiting more women into technical jobs.


Supporting LGBT Movements: Wyndham Worldwide's Chief Diversity Officer Patti Lee shares her insights on why the company and all employers should support LGBT movements, especially if they want to recruit the best of the best talent.


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.


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.