Catherine Elliott In a new report Catherine Elliott and Joanne D. Leck examine the state of mentoring in Canada and some of the challenges faced by women, visible minorities and immigrants, disabled persons and Aboriginal people in advancing to senior positions in the workplace. Professors Elliott, Leck and their research team document how mentoring is associated with numerous benefits, including improved work performance, promotions, and enhanced skills development. They examine various approaches to mentoring and aim to discover how best to leverage mentoring as a tool to promote employee learning and advancement in order for Canada to access the leadership potential of all employees.

Joanne Leck Organizations have increased their investment in mentoring programs in response to competition for knowledge workers and a shortage of leadership talent, but there is a lack of compelling evidence that the current programs work well for designated groups, who remain underrepresented in management and in positions of power, the researchers conclude.

Canada would benefit from evidence-informed policies to achieve sustained mentoring programs which incorporate development and training of mentors, the authors explain. “We need to think of mentoring as a deliberate and focused learning process, not an occasional ‘let’s have coffee’ once in a while experience, in order to truly to break through the glass ceiling".

This study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) through a Knowledge Synthesis Grants competition that focused on skills development for future needs of the Canadian labour market. Sixteen reports by researchers across Canada from a range of disciplines were funded through this initiative.

Links to these reports and accompanying short videos have been posted by SSHRC.