Reverse mentoring flips the traditional top-down, learn from your leaders, mentoring method on its head. Instead, leaders partner with colleagues from across the company’s diverse community groups to see and hear their views and experiences. It allows leaders to gain a new perspective on the business, to witness and have a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities there are for people from under-represented backgrounds.
Over the past 18 months, 30 partnerships of the executive board and senior leaders and their mentors have completed the programme. The conversations and openness can help influence ongoing cultural change and decision making in Greene King as mentees identify that they have a lot of common ground but also many differences in their daily lives with their mentors, and the goal is for everyone to be listened to, included and valued.
Mentors of all ages and experience and from all backgrounds can volunteer to take part in the programme. It is open to all divisions of Greene King, and team members from its pubs, breweries and support centres throughout the country.
Reverse mentoring has proved so successful in driving meaningful understanding of inclusion that it is being rolled out to the wider leadership team with the fourth cohort starting this month.
Commenting on the successes of reverse mentoring, Garry Clarke-Strange, Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Greene King said: “This has been a resounding success for both the mentors and the mentees. It has been truly eye-opening and a positive experience for all. Everyone has come away from this having learned something about others, but also about themselves.
“This is part of our ongoing inclusion and diversity work and a brilliant way for the under-represented, diverse communities which we have in Greene King to have an influence on our leaders. This training has changed the way our leaders manage people and interact with those in their personal lives too.”
At the end of her eight-month reverse mentoring journey, mentor, General Manager Laura Reid said: “It has been fantastic to feel listened to and to have a voice.”
Fellow mentor General Manager Phil Maiden added: “People have been wanting to understand my experience and viewpoint to influence change, that’s great!”
On completing the programme, Greene King CEO, Nick Mackenzie, whose mentor was from the Black, Asian and ethnic minority community, said: “I was a little nervous to start. It can sometimes be a difficult conversation to have about racism, for example, this has given me more confidence. People may not always get it right, but the important thing is that we are trying. This programme helped so much and my ability to talk to people about racism has certainly grown. I feel able now to have these conversations, to promote inclusion and challenge where necessary to meet Greene King’s aim of being a truly anti-racist organisation.”
As this month’s fourth cohort met for the first time, head of people data and insights, Sally Fallon said to was great to see such a broad range of mentors and mentees from across the business. She added: “The energy in the room was really positive and everyone was really keen to get started. The framework and support given by the facilitators set everyone at ease and made it really clear how we could get the most out of the programme.”
Greene King’s Inclusive Leadership training is also being rolled out to all managers as part of the ongoing drive for everyday inclusion.