Reverse mentoring – a concept popularised by Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, who in the 90s asked his younger workers to share their superior knowledge of new technology with less tech-savvy older employees – now stretches beyond simply computer lessons. It aims to amplify the ideas and voices of less experienced, less senior and more diverse employees.
In November 2021, Compass launched its reverse mentoring pilot scheme as a key strand of its diversity and inclusion strategy. The idea to start the scheme surfaced from input from ‘Within’ – the company’s employee network “run by colleagues, for colleagues”. “It was very much generated as part of our D&I strategy, but informed, designed and guided by our Within network,” says Amanda Scott, director of talent, learning and D&I at Compass Group UK & Ireland, who are leading experts in catering, cleaning, vending and facilities management.
“We really took the lead from our employees”, says Amanda. “Having a reverse mentoring programme was something that everyone was really up for to really educate and inform people. And because the majority of our senior leadership are not from an ethnic minority background, we felt it was really important for them to connect with people and hear their stories.”
I think these kinds of programmes are going to be really helpful in breaking down some of the nervousness around tackling race
“There’s also a lot of people who are nervous around the language, particularly around race and ethnicity,” continues Amanda, “and I think these kinds of programmes help that by raising awareness and testing some assumptions that people might make. So I think that's going to be really helpful in breaking down some of the nervousness around tackling race.”
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