About this publication

This is a guidance document for the Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme. It reflects the process by which the mentoring programme has been administered so far. The intended audience for the document is volunteers who are looking to replicate and improve upon this process.

This document was last updated on 2 January 2022.

Purpose of the programme

The Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme is a career development offer developed and led by the Civil Service LGBT+ Network. The mentoring programme was created for two reasons:

  1. to support LGBT+ civil servants in developing their career
  2. to create greater visibility of LGBT+ role models throughout the Civil Service

The cross-government LGBT+ network conducted research into the career progression of LGBT+ civil servants in 2011. The research found that respondents felt they didn’t have access to the same career and development opportunities as their straight or cisgendered counterparts. Mentoring was one development opportunity that was cited and has been consistently asked for.

We also know from engagement with LGBT+ staff over a number of years that they felt it was difficult to identify LGBT+ role models across government. The Civil Service LGBT+ Network has tried to address this through our Role Models guide and Impact Index previously.

This programme aims to address both issues simultaneously. It provides mentees to access to structured mentoring opportunities with staff who are at least one grade more senior than them.

What you will need

Tools

This programme was designed to be delivered at low or no cost.

The first iteration of the programme was delivered entirely online using the following tools:

  • Google Workspace (Google Mail, Meet, Sheets, Forms and Slides) — to manage correspondence, registrations, matching, surveys and online induction
  • GOV.UK Notify — to send transactional emails to participants

At the time of the original programme, Google Workspace cost around £10 per month. The costs were met by the Chair. GOV.UK Notify’s email service is free-to-use for the Civil Service.

There is no specific reason why the programme could not have been delivered using alternative tools.

Time

The original programme was designed and delivered from scratch by a single person over the course of 6 months. Maintaining and updating the programme is likely to be relatively less time intensive.

The first iteration of the programme programme took around 45 hours to create and around 20 hours to administer. This included:

  • 15 hours to create guidance documents
  • 5 hours to create induction presentation materials
  • 5 hours to create notification email templates, forms and surveys
  • 20 hours to conduct matching of mentors to mentees
  • 5 hours to notify participants and provide follow up advice
  • 10 hours to conduct induction events
  • 5 hours to review feedback and survey data
  • regular email correspondence with participants

Future iterations of the programme are likely to require less time than this because:

  • much of the core content for the programme will only require minor changes (unless a volunteer wants to expand particular elements)
  • the matching process is intended to be simplified by a new software tool that can automatically conduct the matching

On this basis, a single volunteer should be able to administer the programme within 1 to 2 hours a week over the space of 3 months.

Preparing to launch the programme

The Civil Service LGBT+ Network website is the central location for all information about the programme. All blog posts, guidance and events are linked to a ‘topic page’ at www.civilservice.lgbt/mentoring.

Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme: topic page

Webpage

Open this topic page

Updating guidance documents

Guidance documents containing information about how the programme operates and resources for mentors and mentees were written for the original programme. You should review all of these documents prior to each wave of the programme and update them with relevant information.

Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme: about the programme

Webpage

Open this document

Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme: advice and resources for mentees

Webpage

Open this document

Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme: advice and resources for mentors

Webpage

Open this document

Preparing for induction

For the original programme, induction events were delivered after registrations closed for the programme but before mentors and mentees were notified of their matches. These presentations are linked in the “Inducting mentors and mentees” section below.

You should schedule and publish the dates for the induction events as soon as possible.

Publicise the programme

The original programme was publicised at the same time as registrations opened for the programme. This was then followed up with some blog posts on the Civil Service LGBT+ Network website and email mail outs to the entire Network mailing list.

In addition, the Network asked the Permanent Secretary champion to write to the LGBT+ Inclusion Champions in each department publicising the programme.

You should consider how you intend to publicise the programme to encourage sign ups before it launches.

Introducing the new Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme

Blog post

Open this document

IT systems access

There are no commercially available IT solutions – such as Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace – that are universally accessible in all departments and agencies. Even in departments that use the same IT system as the one the Civil Service LGBT+ Network uses, local IT restrictions might mean specific services are not available. There is nothing you can do to fix this.

You will need to remind participants that if a link or form isn’t working they should try again from a personal device.

It is strongly recommended that you do not attempt to set up multiple bespoke solutions for registrations or wider participation. The administrative burden will be significant and it will make managing the programme much harder.

Opening registrations

In order to find mentors and mentees, you will need a registration process.

For the original programme:

  • participants registered via one of two Google Forms; one for mentors and one for mentees
  • participants could register to be both a mentor and and a mentee, if they wished to do so
  • registrations opened for 8 weeks

Timing

You should open registrations for the programme for a minimum of 4 weeks. During this time, you should promote the programme to potential mentors and mentees. You should consider whether you wish to promote the programme before registrations open, to build interest in advance.

You should make the closing date clear to prospective participants. Consider whether you want to set a false deadline (for example, at 4 weeks) and then extend the deadline for a very short period (for example, an additional 1 week) to help with managing last minute registrations.

Longer registration windows are not necessarily better. The data you collect from prospective participants will become outdated quickly due to departmental churn and participants changing their mind.

Eligibility

Participants in the programme should:

  1. be a civil servant employed directly by a central government department or agency1
  2. self-identify as LGBT+; they have a minority sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or variations in sex characteristics
  3. register with a Civil Service email address

The second criteria was the subject of some debate amongst prospective participants in the original programme and a number of allies wished to take part.

The programme was intentionally limited to LGBT+ staff only because of the evidence base identified above. Participants have fed back that they particularly valued knowing their mentors and/or mentees were LGBT+.

This does not mean that the role of allies isn’t valuable, but it is not what this programme has been designed for.

Participants should not:

  1. be employed in the wider public sector, such as local government or the NHS
  2. be a consultant, interim contract, or agency-worker
  3. be straight and cisgendered
  4. register with their personal email address

Registering as a mentor

Mentors can be from any grade from EO upwards. It would not be possible to match AA and AO mentors to mentees because mentors should mostly be two grades more senior than their mentees.

It is likely that participants who have registered as mentors at the most junior grades will not be successfully matched to a mentee. In the original programme there were too many mentors available at junior grades. Of the 425 mentors that registered, around 20 prospective mentors did not receive a successful match.

Register as a mentor

Website landing page

To gain access to the registration form, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Become a mentee

Google Form

To gain access to the registration form, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Registering as a mentee

Mentees can be from any grade up to SCS2. It would not be possible to find mentors for SCS3 and SCS4 mentees (Permanent Secretary) because mentors would usually be two grades more senior than their mentee.

In the original programme, most mentee participants were drawn from the most junior grades. This was expected given the structure of the Civil Service.

It is substantially more difficult to match Grade 7, Grade 6 and Senior Civil Service participants who wish to take part as mentees. For this reason you should proactively market the programme to the Senior Civil Service, asking them to take part as mentors.

Registration forms

A landing page was set up on the Civil Service LGBT+ Network website. This landing page then linked out to a Google Form where participants could register.

It is recommended that in communications and guidance documents you always link to the landing page. This will make it much easier to handle messaging around deadlines and IT access issues.

Register as a mentee

Website landing page

To gain access to the registration form, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Become a mentor

Google Form

To gain access to the registration form, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Data requested from participants

The information requested from participants was:

  • name
  • contact details
  • job title
  • current grade
  • profession
  • department or agency

The process did not require participants to provide details of their LGBT+ identity.

Changes to this process and data protection

If you make changes to the process and data collection, you will need to carefully consider the data protection implications and how any data you collect is communicated to participants.

You will need to update the privacy statement on the registration forms to make it explicit what you are doing with the information you collect before making changes.

As a general rule, you should seek explicit permission from participants for everything you intend to do with their data.

Registration data location

The data from the Google Forms is stored in a Google Sheet. Throughout the remainder of this guidance there will be references to specific tabs in this Google Sheet.

This Google Sheet contains large amounts of sensitive personal data. Do not under any circumstances share this data with other people, or provide access to the Google Sheet to anyone that isn’t directly involved with managing the programme.

Monitoring registrations and cleaning the data

During the registration window, it is a good idea to monitor registrations. This helps you to understand where you lack mentors and/or mentees, so that you can target particular grades or professions.

You should also keep an eye out for false registrations, spam, or incorrect data. For example, some participants last year gave their team name or directorate when they were asked for their ‘department’; this incorrect data can be easily fixed by looking at the participant’s email address but it is fundamental to correct it so the matching process can take place.

Closing registrations

After your chosen registration window has finished, you will need to manually close registrations. You do this by:

  • changing the landing pages so they redirect to a ‘Registrations have closed’ landing page (linked below)
  • changing the Google Forms to disallow new registrations

Registrations have closed

Website landing page

Open this blogpost

Mentoring registrations are now closed

Blogpost

Open this blogpost

You should quickly move into the next phases of the process. The longer you leave between the close of registrations and issuing final matches, the more likely participants will drop out.

Inducting mentors and mentees

Induction for mentees

Google Slides presentation

Open this presentation

Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme: advice and resources for mentees

Webpage

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Induction for mentors

Google Slides presentation

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Invite to induction event

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Resources published

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme: advice and resources for mentors

Webpage

Open this document

Matching mentors to mentees

You should aim to match mentors to mentees as quickly as possible after registrations close. Delays at this stage are the biggest risk to the success of the programme. The longer you wait, the more likely that the data you hold will be outdated and the more likely that participants drop out.

Validate the registration data

Before you start to match mentees and mentors, you should provide participants with an opportunity to validate their information. Use the GOV.UK Notify template to send a notification to all participants listed on the “GOV.UK Notify – General contact list” tab.

Provide a clear deadline for when matching will take place. Also provide a deadline for when you expect to notify participants of their outcomes.

Check your details

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to this template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

If participants email you to ask to change their details, update the source data in the Google Sheet on the “Mentors” or “Mentees” tabs. Ensure that the person emailing you is the same person as the person who registered – compare their email addresses in particular.

Once the deadline for the validation process has passed, email all participants again telling them that the matching process has started. Use the GOV.UK Notify template to send a notification to all participants listed on the “GOV.UK Notify – General contact list” tab.

Matching has started

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Guidelines for matching mentors and mentees

Changes for 2022

The matching process was conducted manually in the 2021 programme. We anticipate that this process will be handled by newly developed software from 2022 onwards.

The objective of the matching process is to facilitate speed mentoring. A successful matching process would result in:

  • each mentee matched with no fewer than 1 and no more than 3 speed mentors
  • each mentor with no more than 3 mentees to meet with for speed mentoring

The matching process for the 2021 programme was based on the following rules:

Quantity of matches

Every mentee must be matched with at least 1 mentor. All other considerations are secondary.

The rationale is that:

  1. it is better to match every mentee with fewer mentors than to have some mentees with 3 mentors, and others with none
  2. it is better to give mentees sub-optimal matches than to give mentees no matches at all

Grade gap

A mentor should be two grades more senior than their mentee. A mentor must be at least one grade more senior than their mentee. A mentor must not be matched with a mentee who is 3 grades their junior.

The rationale for this is that a mentor is most useful to a mentee when they are slightly more senior, but not so senior as for their advice and mentoring to feel disconnected from the mentee’s current career position.

Learning point

Note that the 2021 programme did not match a mentor with a mentee if there was a 3 gap difference. There was very limited feedback from middle management grade staff that they would prefer a larger gap; this was not achievable with the mentors available.

Profession

Each mentee should be matched with at least one mentor who is in the same profession as they are.

If a mentee has two matches with a mentor in the same profession as they are, they should be matched with a third mentee in a different profession.

The rationale for matching people in different professions is that mentees might benefit from different perspectives and experiences.

Learning point

Note that the 2021 programme did not consider whether participants might be looking to change their profession. This is something future programmes may wish to factor into the matching process.

Departments and agencies

A mentee and mentor must not be matched with someone who works in the same department or agency as they do.

The rationale for this is that it will avoid accidentally outing people working in close proximity to each other, and it will enable more honest conversations.

Other factors

A participants LGBT+ identity was not considered as part of the matching process. There here was some feedback that some participants would prefer to be matched with people with similar identities to them (for example, trans mentees with trans mentors).

The rationale for this was that it would be too difficult to match people on this basis as well as with other criteria. All participants are LGBT+ and this was believed to provide enough of a link to participants identities to make them comfortable taking part. Additionally, the labels and identities with which people describe themselves are not a uniform list; it may not be straightforward to find a consistent nomenclature that is inclusive and also useful as the basis for matching.

Learning point

Note that the 2021 programme did not consider identity in the matching process. This is something that future programmes may wish to factor into the process. A key decision for a future programme would be whether it is better to match a mentee to someone who didn’t share their identity, or better to not match at all.

Notifying mentors and mentees

Once the matching process is complete, you will need to individually notify every mentor and mentee of their matching outcomes. This is managed through personalised email sent with GOV.UK Notify.

Mentors and mentees received an email notifying them of who they had been matched with and basic information about their matches. These emails included their matches’:

  • name
  • job title
  • department or agency
  • grade
  • profession

Learning point

Note that the 2021 programme did not include biographical information about participants. This is something that future programmes may wish to factor into the notification process.

Mentees were given the contact details of their mentors, but mentors did not receive the contact details for their mentees. This was intentional: the programme was designed to get mentees to take ownership of their mentoring relationship.

Learning point

Note that the 2021 programme did not provide mentors with the contact details for their mentees. There was significant feedback that this made it harder for mentors to know whether mentees would get in touch. Future programmes may wish to change this part of the process.

Speed mentoring matches – to mentees

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Speed mentoring matches – to mentors

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Speed mentoring matches – to mentors (no matches)

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

You may find it helpful to also publish a blog post (which can then be publicised separately through the wider Network newsletter) informing everyone generically that the matching process has concluded.

Speed matching is complete

Blogpost

Open this blogpost

Mentoring process

The mentoring process is structured in two parts:

  1. mentees meet up to three mentors and hold a 30 minute speed-mentoring session with each of them
  2. mentees then choose one mentor that they feel can help them the most to continue to work with for up to 1 year

The programme facilitates the speed mentoring process through the initial matching (as outlined above) and then nudges participants to move through these two stages of the mentoring process.

Speed mentoring

The speed mentoring process takes place first. You should send participants their matches via email and advise them to complete their speed mentoring within a set timeframe. For the original programme, participants were asked to organise their speed-mentoring session within 1 month of receiving their matches.

Inevitably people will miss their notification email for any number of reasons. Follow up reminders were sent to participants – in particular mentees – to remind them to contact their mentors.

Have you contacted your mentors?

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Long term mentoring

Once you are confident that speed mentoring is underway, you should start to nudge mentees and mentors to move onto long-term matching. This is a process managed entirely between individual participants; your role is to nudge them to do it.

Mentees were encouraged to ask one of their three matches to be a long-term mentor. Mentors were asked to take on one mentee, considering whether they were able to appropriately help their mentees.

Email templates for this part of the process are set up on GOV.UK Notify.

Learning point

Note that for the 2021 programme the onus was on mentees to contact mentors asking some mentors fed back that

Post-speed mentoring – to mentees

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Post-speed mentoring – to mentors

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Clearing

Clearing process – to mentees

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Clearing process – to mentors

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Clearing process – both mentor and mentee

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme: clearing process

Webpage

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Feedback and reviewing the programme

You should gather feedback from participants throughout the programme. This feedback will help to improve the programme as it takes place and to inform changes for the next round.

During the first round of the programme, three surveys were created to gather feedback. The surveys contained a mixture of qualitative and quantitative questions.

The surveys took place:

  1. before speed mentoring started so we could get feedback about the induction mentors and mentees received, to understand the participants existing skills and confidence, and to understand the demographics of the participants
  2. after speed mentoring had taken place so that we could assess whether the speed mentoring process had worked as intended and gauge whether people felt they had seen an immediate benefit from the programme
  3. after long-term mentoring had taken place for a few months so that we could assess whether the programme continued to have its intended outputs and whether people felt they had seen a benefit from their mentoring relationship

Each survey remained open for 1 month. The survey was posted on the Civil Service LGBT+ Network website and also emailed to all participants.

These surveys were each conducted via Google Forms and are linked below. These forms will no longer accept responses but can be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Pre-programme survey

Google Form

To gain access to these surveys, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

After speed mentoring survey

Google Form

To gain access to these surveys, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

After long-term mentoring survey

Google Form

To gain access to these surveys, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Email templates that you can adapt and re-purpose are already set up on the email system.

Pre-flight survey

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Post-speed mentoring survey

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Sending emails

All bulk email messages are sent via GOV.UK Notify. This is a free-to-use service for the public sector. The Civil Service LGBT+ Network has been given special dispensation to use it, supported by the Civil Service Inclusive Practice team provided that it remains free-to-use.

To send emails out using GOV.UK Notify, you will need to export the required email addresses and data from the Google Sheet in CSV format. You then select the appropriate template, upload the CSV file to Notify, and it will fill in the template with the appropriate data.

Please contact the Chair for access to the GOV.UK Notify system.

Emails must include a generic footer that tells people how they can change their details or opt out of the programme entirely. The generic message template already includes a suitable footer, which reads:

If your details have changed or you no longer want to take part in the Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme, please email us at mentoring@civilservice.lgbt or just reply to this email.

Generic message template

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

Templates and other resources

A Code of Conduct was also produced to set expectations for the behaviour of both mentors and mentees.

Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme: Code of Conduct

Webpage

Open this document

A generic presentation template was produced and should be used for all presentations.

Presentation template

Google Slides presentation

Open this template

A GOV.UK Notify message template has been produced as a starting point for all messages you need to send for the programme.

Generic message template

GOV.UK Notify template

To gain access to template, please email mentoring@civilservice.lgbt

  1. The best way to check whether someone is a civil servant is to ask them if their organisation is listed on GOV.UK under ‘Departments, agencies and public bodiesand whether their organisation advertises jobs on Civil Service Jobs. If they do not, then they are unlikely to be eligible. You can consult the Civil Service Inclusive Practice team if you are unsure.