Reverse Mentoring: Putting Personal Advantage to Collective Good Use

To address inequality of opportunity, we need to acknowledge and address the systemic advantages and disadvantages that people experience daily. For leaders, recognizing their advantage blindness can help to reduce the impact of bias and create a more level playing field for everyone. Being advantaged through race and gender come with a responsibility to do something about changing a system that unfairly disadvantages others.

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Use your advantages to challenge the system, because you’re more likely to be heard and not to have your suggestions dismissed. Nick, another CEO, has initiated a system of reverse mentoring in his organization. Senior leaders are invited to choose a less senior employee of a different sex or ethnic background from themselves as a mentor. The mentors help leaders to understand what’s really going on from a very different perspective, through the invitation to speak truth to power. “It’s a win/win,” Nick says. “Executives have found it eye-opening, and the mentors have raised their profiles for career advancement.”

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