By Jeffery Wallace, President, LeadersUp
It has become clear that mentorship is more than an act of kindness. Mentorship also is a key solution for strengthening the talent pipeline for business and empowering the next generation of leaders.
USA Funds®, the National CARES Mentoring Movement and LeadersUp came together to convene a group of key leaders for an intimate discussion of the transformative power of mentorship in shaping the next generation to lead in the workplace. With the support of USA Funds and event host Susan L. Taylor, founder and CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, the leaders recently gathered in New York City for the Power of Mentorship Breakfast.
Participants received insights from expert panelists and deepened their commitment to intentional acts of guidance for “opportunity youth” — people between the ages of 16-24 who are both out of school and out of work.
The discussion focused on the value of mentorship throughout the continuum of a young adult’s trajectory from high school to career. Those in attendance considered strategies to help reshape corporate mentoring practices while improving the competitiveness and long-term innovation potential of companies.
To anchor the conversation, panel leaders featured:
- David Johns, executive director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
- Jennifer James, director of governmental and external affairs, Medgar Evers College.
- Corey Matthews, director of impact, LeadersUp.
Mentoring to compete
An impactful highlight from the convening was introducing the Power of Mentorship Report from LeadersUp, a USA Funds grantee. This document focuses on the shift in business and talent development practices that are necessary to compete in a 21st century economy — and mentoring’s role in addressing this shift.
Opportunity youth represent more than 5 million members of America’s future talent pool who have not been exposed to the resources necessary for success in the workplace. This staggering reality, coupled with the fact that the number one problem on the horizon for businesses is the spiked turnover of new talent, poses a challenge for advocates, practitioners and policymakers alike. These groups must identify ways to support the successful transition and progression of opportunity youth in the workplace.
Mentoring in the workplace can help attract, motivate, develop and retain profitable talent while increasing productivity. The Power of Mentorship Report highlights five primary benefits of having a workplace mentoring program:
- Internal knowledge transfer. Mentoring is an effective approach to organize, create, capture and distribute knowledge. The practice reduces the time required for knowledge transfer by providing direct access to a range of experts and peers who can share knowledge and skills.
- Career planning and leadership development. Mentoring serves as a platform for organizations to discuss employees’ career goals and offer development opportunities and guidance to employees. Employees receive assistance in understanding what they want for their own careers.
- Diversity. Mentoring empowers a diverse range of employees to share their opinions, ideas, knowledge and experiences.
- Onboarding new employees. Mentoring can help reduce the time to competency for new employees by linking new hires to specialists, peers and managers. These mentors can provide necessary information while helping new hires feel comfortable in their new work environment.
- Employee engagement. Mentoring helps employees to identify themselves as a vital part of an organization and creates a heightened level of ownership within an organization.
USA Funds and LeadersUp have explored culturally relevant resources to provide young adults with the support necessary to build healthy peer cohorts and inclusive learning environments, and to map promising career trajectories prior to completing their education programs. Mentorship is an effective practice for incubating novice talent with key wraparound services and is an important step in developing a mind equipped with the skills necessary to win in the workplace.
The Power of Mentorship convening is the start of a larger national conversation. LeadersUp, the National CARES Mentoring Movement and USA Funds aim to explore the topic more deeply through our strategic partnership. Our hope is to create a meaningful impact on the lives of young adults and, ultimately, communities across the country.
Mentorship is not just for the mentee, but also for the mentor, the business sector, the community — and the future.