Completing a review of your evidence base means you can take an informed decision about who is able to participate in your programme.

You should consider:

  • who is eligible to participate as a mentee
  • who is eligible to participate as a mentor

You should do this in parallel with deciding what type of programme you want to run.

Considerations for mentees

Mentees will be the primary beneficiaries of your programme.

Generally, you will have more mentees on your programme than you will mentors. You will need to consider how to you will maximise the number of successful matching outcomes created by the programme. This might mean limiting the programme only to certain subsets of participants.

Considerations for mentors

Mentors are the benefactors of your programme. They are volunteering a potentially significant amount of their own time to support mentees on your programme.

Generally, you will need to consider whether your pool of mentors is sufficiently large, skilled and time-rich. You will also need to consider what differentiates your mentors from your mentees.

Traditional mentoring programmes

For traditional mentoring programmes, you will generally be drawing from a pool of relatively more-senior, more-experienced mentors.

You will need to consider how much more senior your mentors will be when compared to mentees. A mentor that is too senior compared to their mentee might be too far removed from the reality of the mentee’s situation to be genuinely helpful. A mentor that is not senior enough won’t necessarily be able to help your mentor develop the skills, knowledge or experience they might be looking to develop.

Most prospective mentors will have the experience they need to act as a helpful mentor. Many mentors may not have prior experience of mentoring or the skills to be an effective mentor though. This shouldn’t necessarily be an inhibitor to including them in your programme; you can help them to address this through [induction and training], and [guidance].

You will also need to consider whether your eligibility requirements enable a big enough pool of mentors to ensure all your mentees get a match. If your pool isn’t large enough, or you don’t know it will be large enough, you will need to consider how you communicate the risk of an unsuccessful match to your mentees.

Reverse mentoring

For reverse mentoring programmes, you are likely trying to match junior staff to a relatively small pool of senior staff.

When deciding who is eligible, you will need to consider whether your eligibility requirements enable a big enough pool of mentors to ensure all your mentees get a match.

Remember, the tools and guidance on this website assume that you are looking to create a traditional mentoring programme.

Case study

Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme

In order to take part in the Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme, mentors and mentees had to both:

  1. be a civil servant employed directly by a central government department or agency
  2. have a minority sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or variations in sex characteristics

Participants could not:

  • be employed in the wider public sector, such as local government or the NHS
  • be a consultant, interim contract, or agency-worker
  • be straight and cisgender

The programme was only open to employees in the Civil Service to ensure that mentors and mentees could discuss issues openly, and to avoid conflicts with any HR policies in relation to contractor staff.

The programme was intentionally limited to LGBT+ staff. “Allies” were not able to register as a mentor or mentee. The programme made this decision of the evidence base that identified: it was intended to not only provide a development opportunity but also to increase the visibility of senior LGBT+ staff.

In each of the first two years of operation, this programme had around 450 mentees, and around 350 mentors taking part.

At this scale every mentee received at least 1 speed mentoring match, and many received 2 or 3 matches. More than 95% of the mentors that joined the programme were matched successfully.