Company: The Hartford
Innovation: The True Measure of Diversity and Inclusion
Award Recognition: Honorable Mention

A small group of early career professionals noticed The Hartford was not adapting quickly enough to the changing world of technology. This group, consisting of millennials and generation X, could not fathom their daily lives without social media. They initiated a “technology roundtable” to discuss how the company could better leverage emerging technology. Simultaneously, executives at The Hartford, most of whom are baby boomers, were beginning to recognize the power of social media, but realized they did not know how to apply it. With technology so ubiquitous, they knew they needed to acclimatize fast.

This is how The Hartford’s Reverse Mentoring Program was born. Sponsored by The Hartford’s CEO, the company launched an unprecedented partnership between the young professionals and senior executives.

The basics of the program is that an early career “mentor” is paired up with an executive “mentee” to experience various technology products and applications over the course of six meetings and to discuss how they might be used at the company. The mentees are encouraged to experiment by creating a LinkedIn account or using RSS feeds to get news, for example. Naturally, the mentee is also able to teach the mentor about the business and provide career advice and development feedback in return. Mentors and mentees regularly get together in cohort groups to debrief their learning as well. The program is structured to benefit all parties from the conversations occurring between pairs and among mentee/mentor cohorts.

There are several critical outcomes of this crossgenerational collaboration. The first is the engagement and development program for early career professionals, who typically have a higher retention risk. Many of them have benefited from connections they made during the program and have made career moves since. The second is a liberalization of how The Hartford approaches the use of emerging technology and social media. The Hartford has updated its social media policy and opened up access to tools that allow the company’s employees to do work more efficiently every day, while balancing their personal lives. Finally, the leaders have implemented industry-differentiating ideas that are making The Hartford a more contemporary company.

The Hartford may be centuries old, but the Reverse Mentoring Program has demonstrated that the company and its executives are always open to learn new things.