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Leading the Way: Top 3 International Corporate Mentoring Programmes Empowering Ethnic Minority Women

Updated: Feb 8

Mentoring programmes can be incredibly valuable for women looking for career progression as they can provide guidance, support, networking opportunities, access to opportunities and different perspectives to navigating your career.

They play a crucial role in fostering the professional development and success of individuals, especially those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

These programs can offer a supportive framework where experienced mentors can share their knowledge, insights and expertise with mentees who may face unique challenges in their career paths due to systemic inequalities, but are they for you?

Can Corporate Mentoring Programmes Offer Anything To BAME Women?

For ethnic minorities, navigating the corporate landscape can be particularly challenging, as they may encounter biases and barriers that hinder their progress.

Mentorship provides a valuable opportunity for mentees to receive guidance, advice, and advocacy from someone who has successfully navigated similar challenges.

By offering personalised support and helping mentees build critical skills, mentors contribute to the empowerment and advancement of ethnic minorities in the workplace.

Moreover, mentoring programs contribute to diversity and inclusion initiatives within many organisations.

By actively engaging in mentoring relationships, companies demonstrate their commitment to creating an inclusive environment that values the contributions of individuals from diverse backgrounds.

The mentorship model also facilitates cross-cultural understanding and helps break down stereotypes and biases.

As mentees develop professionally and ascend within their organisations, they become role models for others, inspiring a positive cycle of mentorship that contributes to greater diversity at all levels of the workforce.

In essence, mentoring programmes for BAME women not only address immediate individual needs but also promote long-term systemic change, fostering a more equitable and diverse workplace for everyone.

This is a vital part of the work we do here at the NBWN so we thought we'd share three examples of top corporate mentoring programmes for women and ethnic minorities.

Lean in Circles

The Lean in Circles mentoring programme is a global initiative founded by Sheryl Sandberg, the former COO of Facebook, in 2013 as part of her 'Lean In' movement.

It is a nonprofit, community-based mentorship programme designed to support and empower women to achieve their career goals and advance in the workplace.

Lean in Circles bring together a small group of women who meet regularly to share their experiences and support each other's career development.

These circles are facilitated by a Circle Leader who guides the group through structured discussions, exercises and activities aimed at building skills and confidence.

The programme provides resources and guidance for creating and sustaining these circles.

The programme is free and open to all women, regardless of their professional background or level of experience.

The topics covered in Lean In Circles include negotiation skills, leadership development, goal-setting, and work-life integration, among others.

The programme has since expanded to include virtual Lean In Circles, which allow women to connect and network with other women from around the world.

The program has been successful in empowering women and helping them achieve their career goals through the power of mentorship and community.

Support is accessible and easy to implement, as it does not require formal training or a large budget to operate.

Lean in Circles provides a supportive community for women to connect, learn from each other and share experiences.

The programme may not provide the same level of guidance and support as a formal mentoring programme, and the quality of the mentoring relationships may vary depending on the participants, but definitely worth checking out.

The Diversity in Leadership Programme

The Diversity in Leadership UK Mentoring Programme is a UK-based initiative designed to address the underrepresentation of women and individuals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds in leadership positions across various sectors.

The programme pairs senior leaders from diverse backgrounds with mentees who are aspiring leaders in their respective fields.

Since its launch, the programme has mentored women from a wide range of sectors, including healthcare, education and finance.

It is a high-quality mentoring programme and training for both mentors and mentees. It focuses specifically on addressing the underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities in leadership roles.

Participants in the programme have reported benefits such as increased confidence, expanded networks and improved leadership skills.

The programme may have limited availability or be exclusive to certain industries or regions which means it is not as accessible as other programmes. However, there is also evidence to suggest that diversity initiatives such as this mentoring program can have positive effects on both the participant and organisational outcomes,

black and white business women working together

The Multicultural Women’s National Conference

The Multicultural Women's National Conference is an annual event that brings together women from diverse cultural backgrounds to share knowledge, experiences, and ideas from across the US.

The conference aims to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in leadership positions by empowering women from ethnic minority groups to support women's professional growth and development with a focus on enhancing their leadership skills.

The conference provides workshops, panel discussions and networking opportunities, including a formal mentoring programme that pairs participants with mentors in their industry.

The mentoring programme provides a structured and supportive relationship for participants

Attendees learn about topics such as leadership development, career advancement, entrepreneurship and diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.

The conference also provides a platform for attendees to connect with other like-minded women, share their experiences, and build relationships that can help them advance their careers.

The Multicultural Women's National Conference is an excellent opportunity for ethnic minority women to gain exposure to new ideas; develop their leadership skills, and learn from successful women who have broken barriers in their respective fields.

By attending the conference (in-person or virtually), women can expand their network, find mentors and sponsors and gain insights into the latest trends and best practices in leadership development.

The hosts have launched regional affinity groups and employee resource groups offering mentorship, coaching and training to help women of colour advance in their careers and become effective leaders.

These groups are modelled after the national conference and provide similar opportunities for professional development and networking.

These local groups provide a platform for ethnic minority women to connect with other women in their organisation who share similar experiences and goals.

Most importantly the groups offer continued support, guidance, and networking opportunities that can help women advance in their careers and overcome the challenges they may face as minorities in leadership roles.

The Multicultural Women's National Conference is a valuable resource for ethnic minority women who want to improve their leadership skills and advance their careers.

It provides a supportive and inclusive environment where women can learn, grow and connect with other women who share their experiences and aspirations.

Can Mentoring Programmes Help You to Succeed?

Corporate mentoring programmes for women and ethnic minorities have become incredibly popular and a valuable asset when mapping future career goals.

Participants will have the potential to increase visibility (personal brand) and opportunities via access to networks of influence and potential sponsorship from senior leaders who will champion their progression.

However, women you have to take responsibility for your progression. Where there is a gap in your career goals, such programmes can help to turn your challenge around if handled correctly. Invest in yourself by seeking out the above or programmes of a similar type.

You won’t regret it.

These programmes aim to improve the representation of women and ethnic minorities in senior leadership roles; increase engagement and retention of diverse employees, and improve organisational culture and reputation. You won’t know if it works unless you participate.

You asked for it, now do it!


Have you had an experience of participating in a mentoring programme like the ones outlined in the post or do you know of any others we could be highlighting? What more can organisations do to support women and ethnic minorities through mentoring programmes? Share your insights, views and recommendations in the comments section below. We’d love to hear your experience!

If you enjoyed the post and you are looking to develop the skills and experience necessary to succeed in leadership positions. then get in touch by clicking here.

You can also become part of our SistaTalk community by signing up here and joining our MentorTalk group to discuss the topic in more detail with your fellow Sistas, just click the image below.

Banner for SistaTalk's MentorTalk group

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