Freshfields’ reverse mentoring programme, 'Diverse Perspectives', connects junior and mid-level colleagues who identify as belonging to an underrepresented group within the firm, with a senior colleague.
The global reverse mentoring programme pairs a more junior mentor with a more senior mentee, offering an opportunity for junior individual voices to be heard, and build relationships with the firm's leadership. The programme also helps build diversity of thought, promoting innovation, idea generation and novel approaches to solving complex problems.
Junior mentors can be anyone who identifies with being from an under-represented group within their region or jurisdiction; the aim is to bring colleagues together who may not ever have a conversation and broaden the dialogue across the firm.
Many of the mentors are members of the firm’s affinity networks – our Black Affinity Network, HALO, our women’s networks, our Mental Health Affinity Network and the Freshfields Enabled disability network.
The programme is open to all colleagues in every office across the firm.
Insights, engagement and network-building
Unlike traditional ‘top-down’ mentoring, reverse mentoring offers more senior professionals a chance to seek guidance and input from more junior colleagues, see the workplace through their eyes and gain a wider perspective on Freshfields culture.
As well as diversity and inclusion, the programme offers participants a chance to focus on professional development, and learn more about topics such as client relationships, innovation and technology.
Freshfields Associate Andre van Zyl Gow has been a reverse mentor to Freshfields Partner Jennifer Bethlehem. ‘Working with Jennifer through the reverse mentoring scheme allowed me to get a much more detailed insight of the business case for the firm’s diversity and inclusion strategy from our clients’ perspective,’ Andre says. ‘It was great to get such positive engagement and support at partner level, and also to build my network within the firm.’
Global Mobility Senior Manager John Kerr says he had ‘lively and positively challenging’ meetings with Global Chief Operating Officer Jill Hoseason: ‘Our discussions and debates across a spectrum of topics have certainly influenced how I approach certain business issues and projects, despite playing the role of mentor in our relationship.’
Freshfields Senior Partner Edward Braham worked with Associate James Nepaulsingh. ‘I would recommend the programme to anyone at the firm – having the opportunity to get to know James and better understand his perspective was very valuable,’ Edward says. ‘He is a great coach too!’