8 March

The value of mentoring in your workplace with Bridging Barriers

At The Lord Mayor’s Appeal, our Inclusive pillar aims to create a City where everyone feels they belong. Through our Power of Inclusion initiative, we aim to increase opportunities for those from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to start, develop and progress their careers in the City of London.

Mentoring is a tool that plays a critical role in helping young people see their place in the City. Many of the businesses involved in Power of Inclusion prioritise mentoring schemes within their social mobility strategies to help young people from under-resourced backgrounds navigate early career opportunities and see City businesses as a place they feel they belong. 

We spoke to Kevin Osei, Founder of Bridging Barriers, about how mentoring can positively impact young people and your organisation.

"Whilst struggling with confidence and self-esteem, a mentor changed my life."

Tell us about yourself and your role?

My name is Kevin and I am the founder of Bridging Barriers, a social mobility charity that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access employment through mentoring. I set up Bridging Barriers after failing university twice. Whilst struggling with confidence and self-esteem, a mentor changed my life, helped me get back on my feet, graduate with a 2:1 and secure three internships.

How does mentoring help to develop young people’s career opportunities?

You don’t have to go to Oxbridge to succeed. Nor do you have to go to a Russell Group university. I didn’t. Part of our strategy at Bridging Barriers is that we help young people who lack positive role models and networks by giving them access to industry professionals who support, guide, and mentor them to achieve career success and bridge the barriers they face. However, there are still a number of young people who need our support. This year, over 40,000 young people could miss out on university places because of lower-than-expected grades. These young people need our support, and we need the support of forward thinking employers who are passionate about helping those from disadvantaged backgrounds to get into positions that their parents weren’t able to. 

"A common misconception is that mentoring only benefits mentees."

What impact can mentoring have on the mentor?

A common misconception is that mentoring only benefits mentees. If done well, mentoring can also really support the mentor too. Here are some testimonials from our 2023 cohort. “Being a mentor has required me to be empathetic and patient, and I’ve appreciated the opportunity to develop these skills.” Through our program, we help professionals to take the next step in their career by developing key leadership skills. Similarly, one of our senior mentors who took part in our reverse mentoring program said, “My mentee reminded me of the resilience that’s needed to break into the industry, now when interviewing candidates, I am mindful of the various obstacles they may have faced.”

Finally, mentoring also brings a sense of fulfilment to mentors – “Being able to see my mentee’s progress throughout our sessions over the months was incredibly fulfilling.”

Find out how you can help to ensure your employees feel like they belong here 

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