Inclusive mentoring programmes: ‘Rising Together’ with the Nursing and Midwifery Council

In this article we learn about the positive impact that inclusive mentoring programmes can have on organisations. Inclusion was truly the focus of the Nursing and Midwifery Council's 'Rising Together' programme. The results have been fantastic, especially for participants who were on maternity leave during some stages of the programme. Scroll down to find out more.

Supporting career progression for under-represented groups

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have been Inclusive Employers members for over 2 years. Its inclusive mentoring programme, which came to be called ‘Rising Together’, was developed after NMC’s Learning and Organisational Development Business Partner conducted a review of its data around career progression.

The initial motivation was to support Black and ethnic minority colleagues to progress to managerial roles, and beyond. As the team responsible for developing this programme began its discussion and internal research, they learnt that various groups within the organisation faced barriers to career progression. The team made the decision to widen to reach of the mentoring programme to all under-represented groups.

The Rising Together internal advertising campaign explained the protected characteristics. It also focused on the desire for senior leaders to learn about the obstacles that NMC employees face. This would help to support the goals of the programme:

  • To improve internal policies and processes, and
  • To improve our culture, to ensure everyone felt included and afforded the same opportunities.

In order to ensure the programme offered everything that its mentors and mentees would need, the NMC involved its staff networks – Workaround (disability), BMe (cultural network) and LGBT+ – and employee forum, from the beginning. Together they decided on the title of the mentoring programme, ‘Rising Together’. 91 employees applied to the mentoring scheme and 20 mentees were matched with 20 mentors for the pilot programme. Applicants were chosen by a selection panel consisting of representatives from staff networks, the employee forum, HR colleagues and two directors.

Supporting mentees through maternity leave and returning to work

This inclusive mentoring scheme has been very successful. One of its greatest success stories is the positive impact of Rising Together on mentees who have participated in the programme during their maternity leave. One of the mentees applied to be in the inclusive mentoring programme whilst their maternity leave was in progress. The employees line manager thought it would increase their confidence and feelings of being supported when returning to work.

NMC’s Learning and Organisational Development Business Partner felt this was a great opportunity to maximise the impact of the inclusive mentoring programme. It was agreed the employee would use their keeping in touch days to participate in mentoring sessions and the learning events that were part of the programme. This employees’ mentor was an HR colleague. As a result of her feedback and their mentoring relationship, improvements have been made to NMC’s maternity policies. Although both parties of this mentoring relationship had not identified each other as their preferred choice for being paired with, they both reflected afterwards:

“… we realised we were perfectly matched.  We have now become more than mentor/mentee and have become friends, both having learned so much from one another

Rising Together participants

Inclusive mentoring success!

This mentee has now returned from maternity leave and been promoted. She attributes this to the confidence she gained from being a part of the mentorship programme and having kept her corporate knowledge up to date. NMC’s Learning and Organisational Development Business Partner reflects:

We have been delighted to see her child on the screen during occasions when virtual learning sessions have been taking place.  So many children, pets and other family members have been joining in with our sessions – it has felt truly inclusive!

Learning and Organisational Development Business Partner, NMC

Another mentee applied for the programme whilst she was pregnant. Her maternity leave began half way through the programme and she decided to continue this relationship throughout it. Her mentor was a male manager who has also learnt a lot from participating in this programme:

“He is learning how better to support all his team and their individual needs and discuss topics he previously would have avoided.  He has been particularly impressed with how his mentee is preparing for both motherhood and a smooth transition back into the workplace.

Learning and Organisational Development Business Partner, NMC

The success of these mentoring partnerships is highlighted by the fact that both of the relationships spotlighted here have continued beyond the 6 month time period that was set for the programme. In another partnership, the mentor left the organisation but continued to support their mentee for the duration of the programme!

NMC’s experience highlights the brilliant benefits for employees and organisations alike, when they design and deliver considered, inclusive programmes. Other successful outcomes include:

  • 6 out of the 20 mentees of the programme have now been promoted,
  • all 20 reported feeling more confident around applying for future roles, and their development in general,
  • the mentors have enjoyed seeing where they can help others, both from mentoring and from making changes to make the organisation more inclusive. One commented:

“The programme acts as a reminder to treat everybody as an individual and not make assumptions”

After such fantastic outcomes, NMC’s Learning and Organisational Development Business Partner is now busy carrying out a full evaluation of this pilot programme and planning to introduce the next cohort of mentees and mentoring to ‘Rising Together’.

For more information about mentoring programmes and how Inclusive Employers can support you with this, please get in touch via [email protected].