Framework curated by Alfred Burgesson, Founder and CEO of Tribe Network and Erin Wynn, Manager of Education and Evaluation at MindFrame Connect
—-Chipewyan (Chip) McCrimmon
The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada has work to do to ensure that founders from all backgrounds feel included, supported, and celebrated. At MindFrame Connect, we believe mentorship can be a key pillar in supporting that mission. Mentors not only provide practical advice and guidance to their mentees but welcome founders into networks and spaces they were unable to access before. For mentees facing structural and systemic barriers, this access can be crucial for the success of their venture – and for their sense of belonging in the world of entrepreneurship.
Constructive feedback is a large aspect of the mentoring relationship. With all mentees, it should be provided in a way that is focused on their performance, with the ultimate intent to help them achieve their goals. Lack of confidence or disparaging your mentee (i.e. “You don’t have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur”) has no role in supportive or inclusive mentorship – rather, provide your feedback in an honest and forthright way, and have conversations with your mentee about the best approach for offering this feedback.
When working with mentees from underrepresented groups, ensure you are not withholding feedback, either. In a recent study*, women were found to receive less actionable feedback than their male colleagues because of the bias that they would be too sensitive to receive it. Not providing appropriate feedback holds your mentees back from development.
* Doldor et al., 2021. Men Get More Actionable Feedback than Women. Harvard School of Business.
After 150 interviews, we heard the following as immediate ways we can drive diversity further in the Canadian ecosystem:
Celebrating Canada’s Diverse Entrepreneurs. Futurpreneur
An Invisible Ally: 3 Ways Mentors Help Founders Start and Scale Their Businesses. NASDAQ
Are you aware of your bias? Harvard Business Review
The Key to Diversity and Inclusion is Mentorship, Forbes Business
Inclusive Mentoring: What does it actually mean? NW Academy
Men Get More Actionable Feedback than Women. Harvard School of Business
The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada, 2021, Women Entrepreneurs Knowledge Hub
Rise Up: A Study of 700 Black Women Entrepreneurs, Women Entrepreneurs Knowledge Hub
Economic Equality in a Changing World: Removing Barriers to Employment for Women, Public Policy Forum Canada
Project Implicit Bias, Harvard University
Racial Discrimination, Race, and Racism Fact Sheet, Ontario Human Rights Commission
Why Diversity and Inclusion Has Become a Business Priority, Josh Bersin
We draw these best practices from the first-hand experience of program managers like you and our own expertise. This white paper is a comprehensive guide that will be your roadmap to building a world-class mentoring program.