Dead letter drop,positive vetting and unconscious bias


MI5 have them. They are helping the secret services get the best out of their "Spooks". It was one of the reasons they were awarded public sector employers of the year. Soon every CEO, head teacher and senior manager will want one. They are the RDMs ( Reverse Diversity Mentors).

Reverse mentoring in diversity is where a senior person seeks out some one to mentor them on diversity issues as a way of increasing their awareness of unconscious bias. 

Traditionally a mentor is senior person who is prepared to help a younger person by sharing their wisdom. The mentor takes a special interest in a younger less experience individual  offering help and advice. In reverse mentoring this is turned around and it is the senior person who receives the help and advice.

Reverse mentoring is away of tackling Institutional racism and other forms of unintended discrimination where the culture of an organisation, the way things are traditionally done, perpetuate unconscious bias. Typically an organisation has policies and strategies which give  a clear commitment to equal opportunities reflecting a genuine desire to have a truly representative workforce yet little changes and targets are not met. To address this people at every level in the organisation need to be more aware and more sensitive to the experience of those who were considered " outsiders"  in the past due to their gender, disability,religion or sexuality. 

Everyone has unconscious biases senior managers are no exception. Just because senior managers introduce an equality and diversity policy and sign up to targets for recruitment and service delivery does not mean they do not have unconscious biases. Reverse mentoring in diversity is away of increasing a senior managers awareness of their own biases enabling them to take this into account when making decisions.

A diversity mentor does not have to come from your own organisation. It is someone who can draw on experience you lack, whose judgement and advice on diversity is valued. I could tell you more about diverse mentoring in MI5 but then I would have to kill you! ( I have just learnt "wet work" has now been outsourced).
 
Blair McPherson former director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk 

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