"Mentorship & Leadership Support Is Pivotal In Shaping Career Trajectories"

Shraddha Naik, HR Head at SAP SEA, India & Emerging Markets, believes that organisations that recognise the importance of mentorship and networking are better positioned to address the challenges of talent retention, and enable diversity & inclusion initiatives


In an era defined by rapid transformations and evolving workforce dynamics, the role of mentorship and networking within organisations has taken centre stage. In this exclusive conversation, Shraddha Naik, head of human resources at SAP SEA, India & Emerging Markets, shares insights into the profound impact of mentorship and networking and its potential to support diversity and inclusion initiatives, the challenges they may pose, and the steps leaders can take to foster inclusivity, even for employees with intersectional identities.

How can organisations view mentorship and networking as strategic tools for talent development and retention? 

Mentorship programmes play a pivotal role in shaping the career trajectories of employees. Seasoned professionals guiding their younger counterparts not only impart valuable knowledge and skills but also provide crucial emotional support. They are helpful tools for talent development and retention. Organisations that recognise the importance of mentorship and networking are better positioned to address the challenges of talent retention. Networking, both internally and externally, enables employees to build connections, exchange ideas, and stay abreast of industry trends, ultimately enhancing their skill sets and making them more valuable contributors to the organisation.

We embrace a culture of continuous learning and collaboration. One of the ways we foster innovation is through reverse mentoring. Younger talents share their expertise with experienced colleagues, creating a dynamic exchange of knowledge and ideas. This practice not only enhances our skills but also strengthens our sense of community.

How does mentorship and networking support diversity and inclusion initiatives in companies, especially in promoting underrepresented groups? 

Mentorship and networking are key enablers of diversity and inclusion initiatives. By encouraging mentorship across all levels and backgrounds, organisations can create a supportive environment for underrepresented groups. Networking provides platforms for people/ talent to engage with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, fostering mutual understanding and breaking down biases. These initiatives promote inclusivity and empower people, ensuring that every voice is heard and valued. Simultaneously, mentorship, experienced professionals offer guidance tailored to the unique needs of neurodiverse individuals, nurturing their skills and confidence.

By embracing neurodiversity and ensuring that every individual feels valued and understood, organisations can not only create a more inclusive work environment but also fuel innovation. Our dedication to fostering these connections not only transforms the lives of our employees but also enhances our company’s adaptability.

How can HR leaders ensure effective mentor-mentee pairings, considering different career stages and skill sets, and what challenges arise in this process? 

Ensuring effective mentor-mentee pairings within a diverse workforce, encompassing individuals at various career stages and possessing different skill sets, requires a thoughtful and strategic approach from HR leaders. Intelligent mentoring solutions are adept at overcoming these obstacles. Utilising cutting-edge mentoring platforms revolutionises the mentoring landscape by harnessing the power of intelligent algorithms. By leveraging advanced algorithms, these platforms identify synergies between mentors and mentees based on a holistic view of their capabilities and aspirations. This data-driven approach eliminates biases, opening the door to a rich diversity of perspectives and experiences. Moreover, these platforms facilitate cross-cultural understanding by promoting mentorship pairings that transcend geographical and cultural boundaries, enriching the learning experience for both parties.

Organisations should conduct comprehensive assessments, taking into account career stages, skills, and personal goals. Challenges such as aligning schedules and addressing diverse expectations can be managed through regular feedback sessions and personalised guidance. Continuous communication and mentorship programme evaluations can help address challenges promptly, ensuring a positive experience for all participants.

How crucial is leadership buy-in and support for fostering mentorship and networking, and how can leaders garner this support within organisations? 

Leadership buy-in and support are crucial for fostering mentorship and networking within organisations. When leaders champion these initiatives, they send a powerful message to the entire organisation about the value placed on employee development, diversity and collaboration. Leaders should actively participate in mentorship programmes, leading by example. Demonstrating the value of these initiatives through success stories and their alignment with business objectives is key to success.

Leaders are encouraged to mentor and be mentored, fostering an inclusive work culture of continuous learning and support. It's a commitment to social responsibility and ethical business practices. Embracing diversity in the workplace not only strengthens an organization’s reputation but also fosters a sense of belonging and unity among employees, making the workplace a space where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential. Their active involvement ensures that mentorship and networking remain integral to our organisational fabric.

How can leaders address potential biases in mentorship and networking, and what steps can be taken to ensure inclusivity for all employees, including those with intersectional identities? 

Leaders play a pivotal role as sponsors, advocating for underrepresented individuals' advancement and creating an inclusive environment. Inclusive language in communication, anti-discrimination policies, and tailored support for employees with multiple identities further reinforce an inclusive culture.

Leaders should address biases by promoting awareness and education. We provide training to our employees, emphasising the importance of embracing diversity and recognising unconscious biases. Structured mentorship programmes with clear guidelines are in place to ensure fairness. Additionally, we actively seek mentors from various backgrounds and encourage cross-functional and cross-cultural networking. By celebrating differences and nurturing an environment of respect and acceptance, we ensure inclusivity for all our talents, including those with intersectional identities.

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sap Shraddha Naik mentorship Learning and development


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