Reverse speed mentoring

Networking / 22 May 2024
Young woman mentoring man

Reverse mentoring, accompanied by a robust D&I Strategy, is a key tool towards developing a more inclusive environment.

Reverse mentoring differs from traditional mentoring in that, rather than the mentor providing support and guidance for an individual’s career aspirations, reverse mentoring strives to promote intergenerational collaboration and understanding and to provide underrepresented groups with the opportunity for face-to-face time with senior leaders, sharing their lived experience and feedback to assist the seniors in becoming more inclusive leaders.

In a role reversal, reverse mentoring has evolved to comprise senior (usually older) leaders being mentored by a more junior (usually younger and often from an underrepresented group) colleague who, from a diversity and inclusion perspective, is different from them in some way, and therefore experiences their career differently.

Benefits for senior mentees:

  • Enables mentees, through the open and honest feedback shared by their mentor, to become agents for effective change within their organisation, challenging outdated practices;
  • Provides a practical opportunity for leadership to lead by example to direct culture change;
  • Improves confidence in understanding and discussing the issues by building awareness of the experiences of, and barriers faced by, underrepresented groups;
  • Develops the ability to lead diverse teams and builds inclusive leadership competencies.

Benefits for junior mentors:

  • Increases visibility as role models to other underrepresented groups in the industry;
  • Broadens their network by building mutually beneficial relationships with senior leaders;
  • Provides mentors with a unique insight into leadership roles.

Real Estate Balance reverse speed mentoring

Reverse mentoring programmes typically operate internally within an organisation and are run over an extended period of time allowing participants to build effective relationships. Real Estate Balance reverse speed mentoring differs in that mentors and mentees will not be paired with someone from their own organisation and they will have just 30 minutes in their pairing before they swap with the other pair in their group for the second 30 minute session.

This provides an excellent knowledge-sharing experience without the time commitment of formal mentorship. One of the pluses of knowledge sharing in this way is that the focus of the interaction is on sharing information, not so much on building a relationship, and can provide mentees with a variety of perspectives in a short amount of time.

Who should participate?


It’s important that the mentee has a deep curiosity about others, is keen to understand the experiences of the mentor and are in a position to enact change within their organisation. The mentee is typically someone who is thinking about strategy and resourcing and moving to a more inclusive environment and/or wishes to build and retain a more diverse team and strengthen their inclusive leadership competencies. The mentee will want to interrogate their company D&I policy or strategy to ensure it is effective in achieving its aims. Mentees will be required to provide a ‘state of D&I in the business’ statement and what organisational ‘gap’ in understanding, representation or awareness they are hoping to gain insights on from their mentors.


Mentors should typically be at a more junior level in their career and be willing to share their experiences freely with the mentor. They should feel confident in being open, honest and frank in their feedback to the mentee on their D&I policies or strategies and their progress towards a more inclusive environment and want to put forward their unique perspective. Mentors should be keen to be a visible role model, have a desire to build mutually beneficial relationships with senior leaders and be curious to gain insight into, and a greater understanding of, leadership roles.

Support and resources

Mentors and mentees are provided with resources to help them navigate the reverse mentoring process and with approaching and discussing uncomfortable topics, empathy, self-awareness, and what to do if the sessions are not going well.

Reverse speed mentoring guidance for junior mentors

Reverse speed mentoring guidance for senior mentees

A short briefing session for both mentors and mentees is held immediately prior to the sessions to emphasise the confidential, safe and brave space environment.

Intended outcome

Whilst an organisational reverse mentoring programme should be a long-term initiative with relationships between the mentor and mentee built over time, the intended outcome of the Real Estate Balance reverse speed mentoring event is to provide mentees with a variety of perspectives in a short amount of time and for them to be part of a knowledge sharing experience without the time commitment of formal mentoring.  In this way, we hope that all participants will get a flavour of the value of reverse mentoring as an important tool in creating a more inclusive environment and will return with the intention of instigating a reverse mentoring programme in their own organisation.