By David B. Shapiro, President and CEO, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and Nancy Altobello, Global Vice Chair, Talent, EY
Sixteen million American youth -- one in three -- will reach the age of 19 without ever having had a mentor of any kind, according to The Mentoring Effect. Youth with mentors are more likely to be successful in school, leaders in their communities and to enter young adulthood with opportunities for ongoing education and career choices.
Yet public investment in mentoring has plateaued for many years. In addition, the seemingly endless parade of grim statistics about the current and future prospects of the nation's youth serve as a constant reminder that the mentoring movement's efforts are more critical than ever before. For mentoring to scale, we must seek greater investments, constant innovation and improvement.
At the National Mentoring Summit held last month in Washington, DC, we issued a call to action for more companies to start or enhance mentoring programs for our nation's youth. The business case for more corporate engagement in youth mentoring is clear. It builds business acumen for employees, including experience in managing and developing talent, improving communication and customer service skills and fostering better understanding and deeper appreciation for the cultural, ethnic and racial diversity of both the youth mentors serve and their co-workers. Mentoring also provides companies with improved employee engagement and retention, enhances recruiting, strengthens the communities where businesses operate and develops the talent pipeline by preparing young people for college and careers.
EY professionals who mentor in the community improve performance, increase leadership skills and are able to build better relationships with our clients. Rich Pashkin, a College MAP Program Director in New York, says, "I've found that even though a College MAP session means a longer work day for me, working with our students reinvigorates me. After meeting with scholars, I always come back to work re-energized, excited and I'm even more productive. I can relate more easily to teammates, propose better ideas and feel more confident when facing challenges."
To provide a roadmap for activation, we released a joint report, Mentoring: at the crossroads of education, business and community, featuring best practices and case studies from both local businesses and Fortune 500 companies. The EY and MENTOR report examines how top US businesses collaborate with the public and non-profit sectors to provide mentorship opportunities to youth in their communities. It also provides the following strategies to start a mentoring effort or enhance the results of an existing program.
- Align mentoring engagements with your corporate strengths. To have a successful mentoring program, businesses should consider how potential programs would fit with their broader corporate mission, as well as their values and capabilities. For example, the report examines 3M, which used its experience building successful products to develop a suite of youth mentoring activities. 3M partners with K-12 STEM and business organizations to assist with out-of-school-time programming oriented around hands-on experiments, classes and internships for high school students, visits from volunteers focused on STEM career options and summer programs that allow mentees to work in labs with 3M scientists. Similarly, IBM's mentoring programs emphasize increased awareness of STEM careers and improved academic performance in STEM subjects. But the company also has an e-mentoring platform which helps young mentees develop soft skills tied to relationship building and communication.
The investments in quality youth mentoring made by companies are direct contributions to the future strength of our communities and our country. They connect young people to the powerful asset that is mentoring, to opportunity and to success.