“How can we create a program to provide mentorship with someone who looks like you, or resonates with things that are important to you?” Robert Clunie, general manager for Disney California Adventure park, posed this question in a conversation with other resort leaders about incorporating the Inclusion Key into a program for cast members.
After careful consideration and planning, Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs) at the Disneyland Resort co-created Thrive@Disney: A BERG Mentorship Program. Launched in 2021, Thrive@Disney united cast members across different areas of business and leadership levels to foster personal and professional development in a diverse and inclusive setting.
Over 300 cast members participated in the first group, or cohort. To celebrate the conclusion of the nine-month program, 100 participants recently gathered at a closing ceremony held at the Disneyland Hotel Adventure Lawn. Mentors, mentees and BERG representatives enjoyed light refreshments under shaded tables. Since most of the groups met online during the program, this event was special because it provided the opportunity to meet in-person.
Cast Activities Senior Manager Sandee Alsup had always wanted to be a mentor to fellow cast members, and through Thrive@Disney, she had the opportunity to mentor Resort Sales Coordinator Amanda Armas and Disney California Adventure Area Chef Duke Brown.
Amanda and Duke joined as mentees to explore different professional areas of the company and meet new people. During their time in the program, Sandee was able to introduce them to various cast members across the resort. “It’s a great reminder that learning comes from everywhere,” said Sandee. “Being able to branch out and connect with different people [with] different points of view challenges you to think differently.”
Choosing a mentor who worked in an area that Amanda was interested in learning more about and keeping an open mind helped her get the most out of the program. “[Thrive@Disney] gave me a safe platform to express what was on my mind,” she said.
Duke said it’s important to be honest with your mentor. “Let them know exactly what you are looking for,” he said. But not all conversations had to be about work. Some of his most memorable conversations with Sandee were about their personal lives.
It was not just the mentees who learned from the experience. As a mentor, Sandee was inspired by Duke and Amanda’s openness and willingness to learn. “Don’t put limits on it,” said Sandee. “Use every conversation, every moment, every connection as an opportunity to grow. You may grow in ways that are unexpected. Absorb it all and enjoy the moment.”