Flipping the script: reimagining mentoring to build an inclusive workforce

Flipping the script: reimagining mentoring to build an inclusive workforce

PwC China’s Deals Reverse Mentoring programme is overcoming generational differences by pairing senior and junior staff to open their minds, build new skills and foster greater inclusion.

Deals Reverse Mentoring Programme

The conventional view of the mentor is being turned upside down. While mentoring is usually regarded as guiding less experienced or junior colleagues, organisations are increasingly turning to junior members of the workforce to mentor more senior colleagues.

The trend of reverse mentoring is part of a movement to increase engagement and satisfaction for more junior staff and deliver better insights to the company employing them. It enables companies to prioritise collaboration and keep communication and teamwork thriving in the face of social and technological differences. 

In China where generational differences are more pronounced than in many parts of the world, PwC China decided to empower talent and gain fresh insights via the establishment of the Deals Reverse Mentoring programme, pairing senior and junior level staff. 

This six-month reverse mentoring programme has four core objectives, namely:

  1. The building of stronger relationships and the expansion of professional networks 
  2. The exploration of generational differences and ways to bridge these differences 
  3. Inspiring the generation of new ideas to improve the ways in which we work together 
  4. Reimagine our ways of work and embrace inclusion and diversity 

By creating reverse learning opportunities and facilitating understanding of the experiences and challenges both parties face in their day-to-day activities, this programme is helping junior and senior-level staff become more open-minded while also building new skills. The programme encourages the exploring of generational differences, challenging concepts of hierarchy and identifying ways to reimagine the workforce. At the end of the programme each pair is asked to share at least one innovative idea the Deals team can consider adopting to reshape their ways of working. 

The reverse mentoring relationship empowers both the mentor and mentee to benefit from the experience. Junior staff get access to their mentee’s wealth of knowledge and different perspectives on the business in which they work. They also gain greater transparency and recognition from management, and they have a hand in developing a company culture they can be proud of. While the mentee’s get to learn new communication styles, modern technologies for business and social networking as well as hear the direct insights of the more junior talent within their business.

a person in a dark sky

“It's fun to find out how our way of communicating with juniors can improve.”


The Results

In 2021, PwC China ran a pilot Deals Reverse Mentoring programme with 62 participants signing up across six of our offices from Associate grade through to Partner. Feedback from the 31 pairs that took part has been very positive and the ideation output focus of the programme has produced a slew of innovative ideas in the areas of digitalisation, workplace environment and team building.

In 2022, the programme was formalised with 100 Deals team members signing up to participate in the programme. 

Flipping the traditional mentoring experience has proven effective in boosting retention, addressing generational differences and building a stronger culture of belonging. By connecting senior leaders with the next generation of talent, the Reverse Mentoring programme is inspiring our people across the Deals practice to consider topics of strategic and cultural relevance, leading to a more inclusive and collaborative workplace.


Participant testimonials

“Inspirational! Good chance to communicate and share ideas with senior members”


“It’s fun to find out what the younger staff are thinking and see how our way of communicating with juniors can improve.”


“Good chance to talk to a senior person and learn from their perspectives. The sharing of past work experiences was quite inspirational.”

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