The workplace is constantly evolving, consisting of employees with different identities, backgrounds and ways of working. Being attuned to these changes is essential for organisational leaders to ensure that their colleagues feel supported and included, but they often feel uncertain about where to start.

One solution to this challenge is the redefinition of traditional mentoring models and the implementation of reverse mentoring. This approach flips the traditional mentoring dynamic, promoting inclusion by bridging gaps and going beyond the organisational hierarchy. Reverse mentoring not only helps break down biases and stereotypes but also promotes a culture where everyone's voice is heard and respected. While both mentors and mentees can benefit from a mentoring relationship, Reverse Mentoring can be especially impactful for developing inclusive leadership.

Research has shown that a leader who embraces inclusion fosters a sense of belonging among team members, encouraging diverse perspectives and open communication. Additionally, inclusive leadership sets a positive example for the entire workforce, promoting a culture of respect, empathy, and collaboration leading to increased productivity and growth. In this article, I’ll be highlighting 8 benefits of reverse mentoring in promoting inclusive leadership and creating inclusive workplaces.

What is Reverse Mentoring and why does it matter?

Unlike conventional top-down mentorship, where knowledge flows from the experienced to the beginner, reverse mentoring encourages an exchange of insights, experiences, and skills between individuals from different backgrounds for example age, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity. In this approach, junior colleagues bring their diverse perspectives and experiences to the table, enriching the learning experience for everyone involved, and fostering a culture of collaboration and mutual respect regardless of personal identity or position in the organisation. By taking their learnings forward, organisations can create a more inclusive environment that values and appreciates diverse perspectives.

Benefits of Reverse Mentoring

1. Enhances collaboration and innovation

Reverse mentoring encourages collaboration and knowledge sharing across different groups. For example, pairs can work together to discuss topics around privilege, discrimination, identity and their own lived experiences. Mentors bring new perspectives which creates an effective learning environment for their mentees who are typically senior leaders. Reverse mentoring is a two-way relationship, and this collaboration leads to a dynamic and forward-thinking workplace where the strengths of each group can foster collective success. This collaborative relationship also encourages creative thinking and enhances problem-solving abilities within organisations, promoting innovation.

2. Accelerates skills development

With technology advancing at a rapid rate, cross-generational reverse mentoring allows younger employees to share their technical skills and knowledge. Reverse mentoring can provide a platform for senior leaders to stay up to date with the latest technologies and trends. This knowledge exchange ensures that organisations remain competitive, with employees at all levels continuously developing and updating their skills. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric who popularised the terms is a good example of this, using reverse mentoring to upskill his board on the use of the internet.

3. Boosts employee engagement and retention

When employees feel valued and heard, their engagement levels increase. Reverse mentoring helps individuals from underrepresented backgrounds feel that their contributions are important. This, as a result, leads to higher job satisfaction, improved optimism, and increased productivity as employees are more likely to invest their time and energy in an environment that recognises and supports their unique perspectives. Additionally, reverse mentoring creates a supportive environment where employees feel invested in each other's success, reducing turnover rates.

4. Cultivates a learning culture

Reverse mentoring instils a culture of continuous learning within an organisation. The ongoing exchange of ideas and experiences between mentors and mentees creates a learning environment where everyone is encouraged to gain knowledge and add breadth to their norms. This learning culture is vital for adapting to change and leaders can use their personal learnings to become more inclusive.

5. Addresses Unconscious Bias

Reverse mentoring serves as a powerful tool in addressing unconscious bias by providing opportunities for leaders to challenge and re-evaluate their preconceived assumptions. As senior leaders learn from their junior colleagues, they gain insights into the unique challenges faced by marginalised groups. This awareness helps in breaking down stereotypes and fosters a more inclusive and understanding workplace culture.

6. Creates opportunities for leaders to Role Model Inclusion

Reverse mentoring contributes to the development of well-rounded leaders by exposing them to a diverse range of perspectives. Leaders are role models for their colleagues and by displaying inclusive behaviours they can set an example and encourage others to do the same. These leaders are better equipped to navigate the complexities of a diverse workforce, make informed decisions, and lead with empathy. This approach to leadership development prepares organisations for future challenges and ensures a pipeline of inclusive leaders.

7. Empowering underrepresented voices

Inclusion involves giving a platform to all voices. By mentoring a senior leader whom they may not usually interact with, reverse mentoring provides an opportunity for underrepresented groups, to have their voices heard and respected. Reverse Mentoring also increases their visibility, creating more opportunities for emerging talent to progress and network.

8. Creates Psychological Safety 

The mentor-mentee relationship in reverse mentoring often involves a level of vulnerability, with both parties sharing insights and experiences. This vulnerability sets the tone for open and honest conversations, creating a culture where everyone feels safe expressing their opinions and concerns without fear of judgment. Additionally, the mentoring relationship creates a space for constructive feedback, further contributing to a sense of safety as individuals understand that their input is not only welcomed but also important for personal and professional growth.


These benefits of reverse mentoring show that it is a powerful tool for creating an inclusive and forward-thinking workplace for all employees. By embracing the diversity of thought that comes from collaboration and sharing experiences, organisations can foster a culture where every employee feels valued and heard regardless of background or position. As the workplace continues to evolve, our approaches to inclusion should change alongside it, and reverse mentoring can be a step in the right direction to ensure that leaders are creating an inclusive space for all.

If you would like to learn more about how you can drive positive change in your organisation through our research-backed reverse mentoring programme, contact

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Author Bio: Tafadzwa Maisva

Tafadzwa Maisva is an accomplished consultant, executive coach and researcher, with expertise in qualitative and quantitative research, particularly focusing on inclusion. Since joining the School, Tafadzwa co-facilitates the Reverse Mentoring programmes, having led research investigating Cultural Intelligence in leaders.