The Ethics of Mentoring

By Shanice Juma Nakhuva

I wrote this article for practitioners and as mentoring continues to evolve in today’s complex and interconnected world, it is important to address the ethical dimensions associated with this practice. I personally noticed the need to include ethics in the mentoring agenda as it can be easily overlooked. Mentors should teach and role-model the appropriate ethical behavior of any professionals. Ethics involves using reasoned moral judgments to examine one’s responsibility in any situation. In the mentoring process, there are ethical considerations that have to be taken into account.

The seven ethical pillars of mentoring are:

1. Beneficence: to do good, specifically to provide knowledge, wisdom, and developmental support to mentees

2. Nonmaleficence: to avoid inflicting harm intentionally, in this case harming mentees through the exercise of power

3. Autonomy: to inform mentees about all the actions that one undertakes on their behalf and to ask for their consent

4. Confidentiality: to keep information about mentees confidential, to respect the mentees’ right to privacy, and to give them control over their information

5. Fairness: to avoid discrimination and to ensure that benefits and potential burdens to mentees are fairly distributed

6. Loyalty: to avoid conflicts of interests

7. Concern: to exercise a caring but fair partiality toward mentees and their interests

Only a handful of organisations have formal ethical mentors in place and they are still learning how best to develop ethical mentors. According to the European economic and social committe, there is an initiative called the Professional Charter for Coaching, Mentoring and Supervision of Coaches, Mentors and Supervisors which should see more and more ethical mentors as several organisations have already signed this charter which includes a code of ethics. It aims to ensure that coaches, mentors and supervisors conduct their practice in a professional and ethical manner.

Using mentoring as a powerful leadership development intervention, leaders are empowered to resolve ethical dilemmas by:

  • Identifying when an ethical issue is present
  • Developing and applying a process to evaluate options
  • Reviewing decisions against the backdrop of organisational policies and escalating where appropriate
  • Influencing the ethical culture of their organisations by becoming a more authentic, values-driven leader

In conclusion ethical mentoring aims to create a positive workplace culture that promotes personal and professional growth, fosters mutual trust and respect, enhances job satisfaction, and promotes ethical behavior and decision-making. It helps employees identify their strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and develop skills to reach their full potential.

Overall, ethics play a crucial role in shaping our society and how we interact with each other. The features of ethical mentoring provide a foundation for positive relationships, promote trust and respect, and help us make choices that are consistent with our values and beliefs. They also help to create a safe space for employees to share their concerns and challenges without fear of reprisal and reinforce the importance of ethical behavior and decision-making. Ultimately, ethical mentoring can lead to a more engaged and loyal workforce, which benefits both employees and the organization.

By Shanice Juma

4th year Creative Business Student at NHL Stenden


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