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Avoiding ethical issues in mentoring relationships

Our time is marked not just by advancements in technology but also by societal expectations in the way we show respect, acceptance and dignity to others. It’s now so important that we display the highest level of ethics, especially when it comes to mentoring relationships.

Mentoring is a vital part of development. That’s because it allows participants to apply their learning into the workplace, change their behaviours and have a sounding board for organisational changes. In fact, this is why IML ANZ includes mentoring as a core element in leadership programs.

To aid the trustworthiness of any mentoring program, leaders and organisations must ensure that reliable structures are in place. This includes the following three components:


Robust screening process

Do your program participants undergo an application and screening process before they are matched with a mentor or mentee?

It’s also important to screen for the motivators of both parties. Are they genuinely seeking professional development? Of course, if the mentoring program is kept restricted to members of a professional body, such as IML ANZ’s program, it reduces the risk that ill-motivated people will join.


Clear parameters and expectations

Do you provide guidance around acceptable subject matters and realistic timeframes for the formal mentoring relationship? A well-structured program leaves little room for discussing inappropriate topics or showing disrespect for each participant’s time and resources.

Again, all of this has to come from a genuine desire to benefit both in the mentoring relationship


Third-party available for feedback or complaints

While no one wishes to hear of any incidents where inappropriate or unethical behaviour is displayed, it’s important to be ready to respond should it arise. An impartial party should be available to receive feedback and complaints. It’s never good if any participant feels they are helpless or won’t be heard if they complain.


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