We have finished our first ever Upward Mentoring programme. RISE, one of our Diversity & Inclusion Forum subgroups proposed the idea in the wake of our firm commitment to improve the work we do around allyship. RISE worked with HR, our senior leadership and our Black colleagues as well as those from ethnic minorities to deliver the programme over 2021.
Through this programme our Black and ethnic minority colleagues mentored our senior leadership team (including our whole partnership). We wanted to open up conversations as we know that if we are to benefit from change and create a more inclusive environment, we first have to listen to our minority groups to find out what needs changing. This mentoring programme sought to tackle unconscious bias and to give our leadership a better understanding of the experiences of our underrepresented colleagues.
We focused the mentoring on our leadership as they are best placed to use their influence to promote inclusivity and to adapt our approach and decision making to this end. We wanted our mentors to be able to share their personal experience of support, mentorship and promotion at Bates Wells as well as their feelings on the anti-racism and the inclusion work we are doing, and where we can improve.
All of the mentees on the programme were very positive about the experience with Sally Procopis, our COO, saying:
“My experience has been meaningful; it has brought me a new relationship in the firm for which I am grateful, and it is making me think more about my responsibilities in all aspects of my life. I am learning about some of the painful everyday experiences of our Black colleagues, and I am now actively calling out others and proactively educating myself.
We are currently finalising a list of actions which we hope to take in 2022 as a result of this programme. Going forward we will continue to open up safe spaces for discussion so that we can learn from each other and create an environment where everyone can progress equally and feels celebrated.”