– Those who engage in mentorship learn a lot, become better leaders, and contribute to a more inclusive organisational culture, she says.

Laurence Romani researches leadership, with a special focus on the role organisations play in either countering or reproducing societal inequalities.

– Organisations are not in a vacuum but are part of society like everyone else. An organisation can aim to counter inequality but still contribute to reproducing it due to structures like the recruitment process, she explains.

In recent years, Romani has taken an interest in the effects of mentorship. She has studied Mitt Livs mentoring program and an internal mentor program at a bank. One area of her research is how mentorship impacts the mentors.

– Most people believe mentorship is only about giving. They see it as something done to help others or as a societal contribution. Many are skeptical about what they themselves gain from investing time and energy in mentorship.

However, her research shows that mentorship is highly rewarding. Everyone who engages as a mentor learns something, especially those open to learning being a two-way process.

– They learn to see the value in other people. This changes their leadership. They become better at listening to others and including their perspectives. In one organisation I studied, this awareness made mentorship a part of their leadership development program.

By encountering different perspectives, mentors also learn that what's normal in their organisations is just one of many ways to act, particularly in recruitment.

– Recruiters tend to dismiss candidates who don't speak Swedish well. But if they're used to talking with people who haven't yet mastered the language, they know it's just a learning process. They learn to see the person's value beyond language. Mentorship can thus lead to a more inclusive recruitment process.

Those participating in mentorship programs also affect others in the organisation by sharing their experiences.

– If the mentors are in a position of power, like managers, it's extremely powerful on a symbolic level. They show they take social responsibility and act accordingly. It's incredibly inspiring for employees and can transform the organisational culture, concludes Laurence Romani.