Leveraging Mentoring



Release Date

March 24, 2014


Catherine Elliott, on behalf of Joanne D. Leck, discusses the state of mentoring in Canada and some of the challenges faced by women, visible minorities and immigrants, disabled persons and Aboriginal people in advancing to senior positions in the workplace. Elliott, Leck and their research team document how mentoring is associated with numerous benefits, including improved work performance, promotions, and enhanced skills development. They examine various approaches to mentoring and aim to discover how best to leverage mentoring as a tool to promote employee learning and advancement in order for Canada to access the leadership potential of all employees.

Read the transcript

Catherine Elliott
Representing Joanne Leck
University of Ottawa Telfer School of Management

Catherine Elliott: So our research was done on mentoring a diverse population. So we were looking at individuals who are under-represented in areas of management like Aboriginal Canadians, women and other disadvantaged groups, visible minorities, etc.

So our findings, we were looking at the challenges that these groups face in reaching more leadership positions in organizations. So we believe that our findings are going to contribute towards improved strategies that we can make in trying to help advance these groups, specifically in the area of mentoring.

From a pragmatic standpoint, what we did find out there in our knowledge synthesis was that there’s a need for mentors, who look like those disadvantaged groups. So there’s a dearth of mentors who represent – women, there’s more, but those other disadvantaged groups like disabled Canadians, aboriginals, there aren’t mentors at more senior levels in the organization who, with whom, they can actually relate. So that was one of the main findings. We need to actually get people in there who they can mentor with because they like to be mentored by people who are somewhat similar to them in terms of cultural background, values, et cetera.

So one of the other things we found is that people have mentors who are largely at this point white males, do tend to have subconscious or maybe conscious biases towards some of these groups. So these tend to cause the mentors to view these groups in more negative ways. They’re less likely to mentor those people from disadvantaged groups. It’s more of a risk for them because they don’t believe in the success of these groups in order for them to advance in the organization.