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CREATING A CULTURE OF MENTORSHIP OF SUPPORT – Provide Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, And Belonging…

Check out these best practices & tools co-designed with champions in tech who are pioneering new standards for equitable and inclusive apprenticeship programs.

All employees who directly interact with tech apprentices should be educated in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) as part of their professional and leadership development. One-off DEIB trainings, particularly when poorly designed or approached as a box to check, are often ineffective in fostering inclusive workplace culture. For this reason, we recommend integrating DEIB education into more digestible formats engrained in daily team building, learning and development, in addition to ahead of key moments of employee-apprentice interaction. Examples include, before employees interview apprentice candidates, and before employees start managing or mentoring apprentices on their teams. Check out our recommendations below, developed with seasoned DEIB leaders in tech.

Avoid one-size-fits-all DEIB education. DEIB education can and should be designed to address a specific context and specific needs in a workplace, such as ahead of interviewing apprentice candidates or mentoring apprentices once they join teams. It’s important to quickly but thoroughly collect data via survey, interviews, content audits and assess what DEIB-related strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats could occur in such moments of employee-apprentice interaction. Be sure to consult with all stakeholders directly affected, especially apprentices themselves. You can talk to apprentice leaders or apprentices at other companies if you do not yet have a program established from which to glean insights.

Questions to ask to start building out content:

  • What are the key moments in which there’s employee-apprentice interaction in the program journey?
  • Where does change around DEIB most need to happen in relation to these key moments?
  • What direct or indirect experiences might cause apprentices racial trauma during these moments?
  • What direct or indirect experiences at work might cause trauma based on educational background for apprentices (having or not having a Bachelor’s degree) during these interactions?
  • How do we want apprentices to feel or act differently as a result of DEIB education employees receive?
  • How do we want employees to feel or act differently as a result of DEIB education they receive?
  • Are employees currently operating with shared definitions around DEIB or is that a gap to be addressed as well?
  • Do employees currently have an understanding of race-based or education-based disparities?

Ensure there is content on race-based or education-based disparities. The “why” is often missing from DEIB education. Driving home the facts surrounding disparities racially and educationally underrepresented groups in tech face makes it clear to employees why urgent action is needed to help level the playing field. Some resources to consult include:

  • The Kapor Center’s Leaky Tech Pipeline (re: racial underrepresentation in tech)
  • Opportunity@Work’s STAR Research (re: underrepresentation of those skilled through alternative routes than a Bachelor’s degree)

Make DEIB learning engaging. Just as apprenticeships leverage classroom and workplace learnings, tech employees can boost their DEIB learning via different modalities. For example, employee education might take on more interactive formats than lectures or pre-recorded videos, such as embarking on hour-long learning sprints that allow employees to deep-dive in teams around how to apply some of the equitable recommendations of this toolkit in areas such as interviewing, mentorship, and structuring the learning journey. For example: “how might we apply this toolkit’s guidelines on equitable technical interviewing at our company?” You can run short simulations with employees to practice putting the learning into action across a variety of scenarios or via role playing.

Use day-to-day reinforcement. Encourage managers to integrate DEIB learning and development into day-to-day program operations in order for employees and teams to better internalize them and create a more widely-felt sense of DEIB for all, particularly the apprentices. DEIB educational messaging, expectations and goals, best practices, and definitions should be included in all materials disseminated to employees interacting with apprentices and should be repeated and emphasized regularly across relevant teams.

Create accountability around DEIB learning. Lastly, accountability must exist around employees following through on what is expected from a DEIB education lens. After an activity or phase is complete, debrief on how it went via an equity lens. For example, collect quick quantitative and qualitative feedback from apprentice candidates and their interviewers on how interviews went from an equity lens, capture improvements needed moving forward and incorporate into future rounds of DEIB employee education for that activity. Tie compensation and rewards for managers, mentors, interviewers to performance around DEIB and ensure clearly defined metrics are in place to track performance progress.

Have questions or comments about the Equitable Tech Apprenticeship Toolkit? Send us a note.