Why Mentoring Is Not Optional at IBM

Mentoring isn’t an option at IBM (No. 17 in The 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity). It’s a heavily weighted performance metric that is critical to the company’s talent pipeline, especially when it comes to senior management. Specific mentoring goals, in particular those with a cross-cultural and cross-gender component, must be met by managers. This expectation is conveyed to all employees from day one as part of the corporate culture.


Ron Glover, IBM’s vice president, diversity and workforce policy, human resources, started nine years ago with the company. He was told flat-out that he needed to not only get a mentor but also become a mentor to at least three employees. The success of his job depended on it. “[Executives and leadership potentials] are assessed annually against a set of competencies through the Business and Technical Leader Process, and one of the competencies has to do with this ability to manage cross-culturally and globally,” he says.

Glover discloses in a DiversityInc mentoring roundtable, with CEO Luke Visconti and Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Barbara Frankel, the mindset behind IBM’s mentoring, coaching and sponsorship programs and how it has brought incredible success in diversity and talent metrics.

(Note: Glover will present “Diversity-Department Structures: The Global/U.S. Connection” at our DiversityInc event in Washington, D.C., on November 9 at 1:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. He will discuss best practices on how a U.S.-based diversity department can facilitate global cultural competence and create significant results in talent development. For more information, visit the DiversityInc events page.)

In the full roundtable, available at BestPractices.DiversityInc.com as a video and an in-depth, 5,108-word article, Glover discussed the viability of mentoring, especially when those programs are formalized and feature a cross-cultural component. Other diversity leaders and mentoring experts in the discussion were from Sodexo (No. 2), Deloitte (No. 8) and WellPoint (No. 34). Topics include:

No. 1: What’s the Difference Between Mentoring, Coaching & Sponsoring

No. 2: How & Why Is Cross-Cultural Mentoring Important

No. 3: How Involved Are Your CEO and Senior Executives

No. 4: How Employee-Resource Groups Help With Mentoring

>> Watch the full-length “How Mentoring Improves Retention, Engagement & Promotions” video at BestPractices.DiversityInc.com

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