Employer blog: The powerful benefits of outreach through mentoring
May 2, 2023 | Paula Kemp
In our SMC employer consultation at the end of 2022, we found that almost all employers who responded participated in outreach, using it to:
- raise awareness of their organisation and industry to a wider reach of prospective employees
- reach students at an early stage to encourage them to think about the range of career and training options available to them
- redress the balance of ‘unlimited potential, limited opportunity’
- build a pipeline of diverse talent that reflects the communities they serve
In today’s blog, Emily Wells-Burr, Corporate Communications Manager at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, describes the powerful benefits of outreach through mentoring.
After I joined Enterprise Rent-A-Car and explored extracurricular opportunities across our business, I was immediately drawn to the Bridge Builders Mentoring Programme. Enterprise has been its partner since 2017.
The initiative aims to improve the social mobility and future employability of young people, who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, aged 10 and up.
Since 2017, 150 Enterprise mentoring relationships have taken place (an average of two mentees per mentor). Enterprise’s corporate head office in Egham, Surrey, works with Bridge Builders and local schools to match employee volunteers with students who need extra support.
The pairs meet once a month for ten months, where together they set goals and create action plans. Along the way, mentors help develop skills and character traits to increase the mentees’ chances of finding opportunities in life that they didn’t know are available to them.
Becoming a mentor made me reflect on my own social mobility experience. Nobody in my family left our small hometown for higher education and both my parents had the same job since they were 16. University or other opportunities at the time seemed like a lot of money and I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I was fortunate to have a school form tutor who mentored and coached me, which opened my eyes to opportunities I never knew or thought I would have access to. Fifteen-year-old me would have never imagined I would have been able to achieve what I have today – and it’s thanks to my sixth form tutor who opened by eyes and gave me the self-belief to achieve more.
Having people to encourage, motivate and inspire can truly make a difference to a young person’s life. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to this support, which is why it is important that we try to give back to society and the next generation. The smallest impacts can have the biggest reward. I have a mentee who has low self-confidence and is scared of making new friends. After practicing role play and giving her the self-belief that she has fantastic qualities, she has made a new group of friends at an after-school club. Seeing her so happy and proud when telling me about this big achievement was invaluable, knowing she will take this skill to secondary school which will help her unlock new opportunities.
My fellow mentors and I are grateful to work for a company that engrains these values in its business operations, reaches out to charity partners and makes a difference in local communities.
Vicki Kipling, Marketing Director for Enterprise Global Franchising is another of Enterprise’s 40 active Bridge Builders mentors. She told me, ‘I have mentored nine children over four years of participating in the Bridge Builders programme. It makes you appreciate your own life and realise how powerful small conversations can be. Having a reliable adult that can talk to an individual who doesn’t know what life opportunities are open to them is immensely powerful and personally rewarding.’
It is empowering to see the positive impact that can be achieved when business and charity partners work together to achieve such a valuable common goal. Through the Enterprise and Bridge Builders Mentorship programme, I find it amazing to be part of a solution to help increase social mobility in society.
It is crucial that we all consider the small ways we can help make opportunities available to anyone, regardless of their background – whether for children, adults, colleagues, or other members of the community. Through local outreach and working together to do our part, companies and their employees can make a big difference with small actions.
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