written by
Michele Heyward

How To Create Mentoring Programs For BIPOC Women?

4 min read
“Everyone needs a mentor, especially BIPOC women. No matter what career trajectory they are on, how much they have hustled, or how satisfied they are with their progress, they still need and deserve a mentor.”

It doesn’t matter if you are 14 or 40, you still need a mentor at all levels of your career and life. Having mentors or mentoring programs to support you throughout is so under-emphasized for women of color. They not only guide career growth but also help in building a network and skills.

This means that there are only benefits of having inclusive and equitable mentorship programs for BIPOC employees. These programs not only lead to employees’ professional growth but the company’s growth as well. If you are executive planning to launch a mentorship program or have been considering it for quite some time, you are at the right place. Let’s talk about how organizations can set up diverse and inclusive mentoring programs for people of color, especially Black, Latinx, and Indigenous women!


Nothing in the world which has sustained the test of time has been built without a foundation. So, if your mentorship program is to work, it must have a solid foundation as well. Start by evaluating the core values of your foundation. When you have those, the first step is to recruit mentors.

The ideal mentor would be someone who has 5–10-year experience more than the mentee. For Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, it is significant to have those who can provide a deeper perspective on how to navigate around the changing environments and culture. Find out what the priorities of mentees are? What are they looking for? What do they need guidance with? What can a mentor support them with? These are important questions because it is not enough to match a mentor with a mentee based on shared backgrounds or interests. For BIPOC women, the problems are unique hence someone who is offering mentoring programs should be well-equipped to handle this terrain and have a successful mentor-mentee relationship.


There should be a structure and philosophy to how your mentorship programs will work. For that, you need to know why mentorship is important for you and your company and how will it work? Based on this, prepare a complete onboarding process for your mentors. You should decide together the structure of the mentorship meetings (depending on your employee statistics and main focus), logistics including check-ins, time commitments, and anything you as a company can support a mentor with.

Moreover, prepare a complete process through which a mentor is recommended to a mentee. Prepare the pre-program agendas and communication manuals so the program can run smoothly for a long time to come.


Your mentoring program shouldn’t be something you are designing on top of the other activities happening in your company. It has a unique nature; hence its accessibility and delivery should be unique as well. Think of how mentors and mentees would communicate? Will the meeting place be separate from the office? Do you have industry partners who would double up as mentors? How would the two connect? How long or how often would the sessions be? Will there be any cost involved in these sessions for the mentee?

Finally, another thing to be considered when talking about accessibility is the loss of work hours. For women of color, the stress of working more is already extreme. Do not make mentorship an added burden. Include the mentorship meeting hours from the working hours. This way you will communicate to your employee that their personal and professional development matters to you.


For mentoring programs to work, there should be clear goals and expectations. Once the above process is completed, the mentor and mentee will be in a better position to know each other. Here it is important to know that the coaching agenda, deliverables, and accountability should be collaborative. It must be decided by both. At this stage, the learning experience of both parties should be supported, and the company should have a base agenda to move forthwith.

Other than the usual get to know each other, the mentee must be made comfortable explaining their expectations from the relationship, the communication styles should be confirmed, and other details like monthly meetings, times, logistics, and other things should be placed in order. For women of color, it is pertinent that they should be made comfortable to discuss the topics that are bothering them, and they want to bring forth in these meetings. Confidentiality should be ensured.

“Mentorships are often only considered as a ladder that people of color will take to move up. What mentorship programs generally are and should be is providing guidance, support, helping in charting out a career path, professional counseling, advocacy, and a lot more. If we want more representation for women of color, these mentoring programs are one albeit major way to go!”