I have been focusing a lot on inclusive leadership lately, and I realized that part of being inclusive means becoming aware of implicit assumptions and biases when choosing mentors and mentees. So I wrote about it when I realized that by acquaintances in my own organization, I was regularly being asked to mentor young women but no one had ever asked me to mentor a man. I found that odd, so I decided to try to understand what was going on at a deeper level.
I also wanted to bring up the point that just because someone shares physical and personal characteristics doesn’t mean this will be a good mentor for someone else. We must dig deeper and look at experiences and situations and goals and other factors to find good mentors for ourselves and others. And we must recognize that at different phases in our lives and our careers, we may need different kinds of mentoring – of people whose careers we would like to emulate, of people who think differently than we do, of people who disagree with us, of people who complement us, of people who share backgrounds and experiences with us.
Sometimes our cultural conditioning and implicit biases lead us to connect people to one another because of some inherent trait. But let’s try harder and do better! For more, take a look at “Avoiding Bias When Choosing Mentors” on Forbes.com.