Why am I celebrating National Mentoring Day?

Sandra Kerr OBE Business in the Community Race Equality Director,  writes of her enthusiasm and commitment to mentoring and encourages us all to participate. 


27 October 2016 is National Mentoring Day. It seems like the US has been celebrating January as National Mentoring Month since 2002, when it was spearheaded by the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.  The UK National Mentoring Day was introduced by Chelsey Baker an award winning business mentor.

I wanted to join in the celebrations this year on National Mentoring Day because our Business in the Community Race at Work survey spotlighted how highly valued Mentors and Mentoring is to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in the UK.  When the 24,457 survey responses were analysed, including the panel survey from YouGov, the consistent response overall to questions about mentors were:

  • Having access to a mentor helps me achieve what I want: White 60%, BAME 68%
  • My mentor actively tells me about opportunities for development that are relevant to my career aspirations: White 61%, BAME 86%

And this is not the first time that I have seen these results. Our Race to Progress report (2011) produced evidence to show a significant difference in the response to questions on the value of mentoring by  ethnic group. We also know from our Race and Recruitment research (2012) that mentoring is valued by BAME jobseekers.  We went on to test and prove that this insight was absolutely correct with a pilot following the HRH Prince’s Seeing is Believing Visit in 2013  in collaboration with our Youth Advisory Panel  which included 10 employers and 90 young jobseekers at Brixton Jobcentre Plus.

Many of us can name key people in our career paths who have given us the benefit of their time, experience and insight and have generously shared with us some wisdom from the lessons that they have learned.  Some of us can also say that mentors have been a great source of challenge and encouragement to us - in our past when we said ‘Who me?’ and they said ‘Yes you’, or in our present if we say ‘I don’t think I can’ they say ‘I am sure that you can, so let’s talk a bit more about it and see if we can make it happen’.

I want to say a special thank you to everyone who has given me advice, encouragement and inspiration. There have also been some great people who took mentoring further into sponsorship and put my name forward as the best choice for projects, opportunities and forums. I would not have had access to these opportunities without their voices speaking up for me in their higher level forums and within their broader spheres of influence.  So a big thank you to you all.

We have included a recommendation on mentoring and sponsorship in our Race at Work report encouraging employers to take action. 

If you are not doing any form of reverse, reciprocal or peer mentoring with your own employees why not get some inspiration from our mentoring insights and videos? We are also launching our exciting Cross Organisational Mentoring Circles Programme later this year with 23 employers taking part including some our Champion organisations: British Army, BT, Sainsbury’s, KPMG. Nationwide, Home Office, HSBC, Pertemps and the RAF.