Mentoring Matters – Developing an Inclusive Mentorship Program

mentorship program

Jim Sandgren, President and COO of Old National interacts with his Achieve Ability mentee, Craig Doninger.

Ben Trockman is the Diversity and Inclusion Specialist at Old National Bank and founded the organization’s mentorship program focused on increasing disability inclusion in the workplace. In 2015 he was the recipient of the Ralph W. Braun Spirit of Ability Award for his work driving diversity and inclusion. 

When I joined Old National Bank in 2014 with the mission to improve our disability inclusion efforts, we weren’t quite sure where to start or what format would work best for our company and our leaders. We researched some of the best practices of other companies committed to disability inclusion but were still unclear of the best commitment to make for the most impact.

But when we took a hard look inside our company culture, the answer came easy. Mentorship. Mentoring is embedded in our DNA at Old National Bank. We jump at the opportunity to help others build their experiences, their confidence, and their professional network. At the same time, our leaders who serve as mentors seemingly always end up learning more from their mentees than they would have ever expected!

That’s why our first effort at creating a more inclusive culture for people with disabilities started with a mentorship program, Achieve Ability. Over the last six years, we’ve welcomed more than 100 participants in our Achieve Ability professional mentorship program, which pairs aspiring professionals with disabilities (mentees) with leaders at Old National (mentors) for a 10-month mentoring relationship.

Our leaders have learned firsthand the challenges and opportunities that individuals with a variety of abilities face each day. We’ve had participants with visual impairments, hearing impairments, spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, and autism. With the relationships our leaders have created with our mentees, we learn how to be better leaders. We learn how to be more inclusive. We learn how to create a more inviting environment and atmosphere for people with disabilities to thrive in our company.

Because of these reasons and more, I am very excited that Old National Bank is partnering with BraunAbility to serve as their mentor as they launch a similar mentorship program!

Why do we mentor? Because we live, we learn and become better versions of ourselves.

One company, one person, one relationship at a time, together, we will make an impact!

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