MentorNet Codes of Conduct

General Information and Guiding Principles

The MentorNet Codes of Conduct govern the behavior of a Mentor and a Mentee during the course of their mentorship. The MentorNet Codes of Conduct include the MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentors and the MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentees. All Participants (a Participant refers to a Mentor or a Mentee) in the MentorNet Program shall read the MentorNet Codes of Conduct in its entirety to understand the standard of behavior expected by MentorNet from all its Participants and to know which actions constitute violations that shall be reported to MentorNet.

Guiding Principle for the MentorNet Program.

The primary purpose of a mentorship is for a Mentor to foster the academic and professional success of a Mentee. Since the academic and professional life of the Mentee cannot be isolated from the personal life of the Mentee, however, the mentorship will likely address personal issues as well as academic and professional issues.

Guiding Principle for Mentors.

The Mentor shall always strive to act in the best interests of the Mentee. In practice, any course of action will usually present specific advantages and specific disadvantages, and the optimum course of action will often not be clearly defined. Under no circumstances, however, shall the Mentor further other interests by intentionally advising the Mentee to follow a course of action that is clearly detrimental to the best interests of the Mentee; for example, the Mentor shall not place the interests of the Mentor, the Mentor’s employer, a professional society, a sponsor, or any other party above the interests of the Mentee.

Guiding Principle for Mentees.

The Mentee is ultimately responsible for the Mentee’s own actions. The Mentor provides guidance for pursuing a specific course of action. This guidance will be based on the Mentor’s specific knowledge, specific experience, specific preferences, and specific biases. In practice, any course of action will usually present specific advantages and specific disadvantages, and the optimum course of action will often not be clearly defined. The responsibility for choosing a specific course of action belongs to the Mentee, not to the Mentor.

 

MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentors

As a participating Mentor in the MentorNet Program, I agree to abide by the MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentors. I agree that if I violate any rule of the MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentors, MentorNet may suspend or terminate my participation as a Mentor in the MentorNet Program.

<Rule M1. Confidentiality. Except as provided below, I shall not disclose to any third party any personal details of my communications with my Mentee without prior permission of my Mentee. Exceptions: Code Violations. If my Mentee violates the MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentees, I shall report the code violations to MentorNet staff at program@mentornet.net.>

 

< Rule M2. Availability. I shall be available for a minimum of 15 minutes a week to communicate with my Mentee.>

Discussion. If the Mentor will be temporarily unavailable for a short period (for example, the Mentor leaves on a week-long business trip), the Mentor should inform the Mentee in advance. In specific instances, the Mentee may require substantially more time from the Mentor. If the Mentor cannot commit sufficient time to fulfill the Mentee’s needs, the Mentor should notify MentorNet so that MentorNet can try to match the Mentee with another Mentor.

 

<Rule M3. Communications. In my communications with my Mentee, (1) I shall not use offensive language, and (2) I shall not transmit offensive images. Offensive language includes, but is not limited to, (a) profanity or verbal abuse directed towards the Mentee, (b) sexually suggestive comments directed towards the Mentee, and (c) derogatory remarks directed towards any individual or group of individuals based on religion, race, color, ethnicity, country of origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or sexual identity. Offensive images include, but are not limited to, (a) images that are sexually suggestive, lewd, or pornographic and (b) images that include offensive language, as described above.>

Discussion. “Communications” refers to communications via any media; for example, in-person, phone, mail, photographs, voice-mail, audio conferencing, video conferencing, audio recordings, video recordings, e-mail, electronic text messaging, computer files supplied on physical media, and computer files transferred electronically.

 

<Rule M4. Topics for Discussion. If my Mentee expresses unwillingness, reluctance, or discomfort in discussing any topic that I have raised, I shall promptly cease pursuing that topic.>

Discussion. The specific personal issues and the degree of personal detail that are appropriate for discussion will depend strongly on the specific Mentor, the specific Mentee, and the specific circumstances. Therefore, MentorNet does not provide a comprehensive list of appropriate and inappropriate topics and does not provide guidance on the degree of personal detail to be shared: The Mentor and the Mentee should agree on the topics that they are comfortable discussing and on the degree of personal details that they are comfortable sharing. The Mentor, for example, may appropriately initiate discussion of personal topics such as problems with family and friends, religion, and death. The Mentor should, however, approach such topics cautiously and ask the Mentee whether the Mentee wishes to pursue such topics. If the Mentee expresses unwillingness, reluctance, or discomfort in discussing a specific topic, the Mentor shall promptly cease pursuing that specific topic.

 

<Rule M5. Personal Relationships. I shall not pursue a romantic or sexual relationship with my Mentee.>

 

<Rule M6. Meetings in Person. If my Mentee does not wish to meet in person, I shall not insist on a meeting.>

Discussion. If circumstances permit, in-person meetings between the Mentor and the Mentee can be beneficial for developing personal rapport, and the Mentee can often benefit from visiting the Mentor’s workplace. It is appropriate for the Mentor to invite the Mentee to meet in person; but, if the Mentee does not wish to meet in person, then the Mentor shall not insist on a meeting.

 

<Rule M7. Prohibited Advice. I shall not provide medical, mental-health, or legal advice to my Mentee.>

Discussion. Medical, mental-health, or legal advice should be provided by a qualified professional. Even if the Mentor is coincidentally a qualified professional (for example, if the Mentor is a physician, psychologist, or attorney), the Mentor shall not provide medical, mental-health, or legal advice to the Mentee: Within the MentorNet Program, the Mentor provides guidance for the academic and professional development of the Mentee. The Mentor should advise the Mentee to seek the assistance of another qualified professional.

 

<Rule M8. Knowledgeable Advice. I shall provide advice only on topics in which I have knowledge.>

Discussion. Mentors shall refrain from providing advice on topics in which they have little or no knowledge. Incorrect advice can have detrimental consequences. For example, a CV for a Mentee seeking an academic position is different from a resume for a Mentee seeking an industrial position. Thus, a Mentor who has experience only with CVs for academic positions should not advise a Mentee on writing a resume for an industrial position. Instead, the Mentor should seek the assistance of a colleague who does have experience with resumes for industrial positions (before contacting a colleague for assistance, the Mentor should first receive permission from the Mentee). If the Mentor does not have an appropriate colleague, then the Mentor should inform the Mentee that the Mentee needs to seek advice from someone knowledgeable. In particular, academic and industrial practices can vary substantially from country to country. Thus, if the Mentor has experience only with US practices, and if the Mentee is seeking a position in Germany, then the Mentor should either ask the assistance of a German colleague (after receiving permission from the Mentee) or advise the Mentee to seek advice from someone knowledgeable.

 

<Rule M9. Fees. I shall not charge my Mentee any fees during the period of our mentorship.>

Discussion. The Mentor is a volunteer and shall not charge a fee for serving as a mentor. Even if the Mentor is employed such that the Mentor normally charges fees for services related to mentorship (for example, if the Mentor is a professional career coach who normally charges fees for preparing resumes), the Mentor shall not charge the Mentee any fees during the period of mentorship.

 

< Rule M10. Business Relationships. I shall not pursue a business relationship with my Mentee in which my Mentee derives no benefit from the business relationship.>

Discussion. An internship, paid or unpaid, can provide valuable experience for the Mentee. If the internship is paid, then the Mentee obviously derives a financial benefit. If the internship is unpaid, then the internship is appropriate only if the Mentee acquires valuable experience or new skills; for example, if the Mentor is providing guidance, training, and review. If the internship is unpaid, then the internship is not appropriate if the Mentee is only performing a service for the Mentor or other party (such as a sponsor). For example, if the Mentee is a skilled programmer and the Mentor requires the services of a skilled programmer, the Mentor shall not request the Mentee to provide programming services without compensation.

 

<Rule M11. Duty to Report Code Violations. If I observe any Participant behaving in a manner that violates the MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentors or the MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentees, I shall promptly report my observations to MentorNet staff at program@mentornet.net.>

 

MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentees

As a participating Mentee in the MentorNet Program, I agree to abide by the MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentees. I agree that if I violate of any rule of the MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentees, MentorNet may suspend or terminate my participation as a Mentee in the MentorNet Program.

 

<Rule P1. Confidentiality. Except as provided below, I shall not disclose to any third party any personal details of my communications with my Mentor without prior permission of my Mentor. Exception: Code Violations. If my Mentor violates the MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentors, I shall report the code violations to MentorNet staff at program@mentornet.net.>

 

<Rule P2. Availability. I shall be available for a minimum of 15 minutes a week to communicate with my Mentor.>

Discussion. If the Mentee will be temporarily unavailable for a short period (for example, to study for exams), the Mentee should notify the Mentor in advance. The Mentor is reserving time to participate in a mentorship: The Mentor’s time is wasted if the Mentee does not also reserve time to participate in the mentorship.

 

< Rule P3. Communications. In my communications with my Mentor, (1) I shall not use offensive language, and (2) I shall not transmit offensive images. Offensive language includes, but is not limited to, (a) profanity or verbal abuse directed towards the Mentor, (b) sexually suggestive comments directed towards the Mentor, and (c) derogatory remarks directed towards any individual or group of individuals based on religion, race, color, ethnicity, country of origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or sexual identity. Offensive images include, but are not limited to, (a) images that are sexually suggestive, lewd, or pornographic and (b) images that include offensive language, as described above.>

Discussion. “Communications” refers to communications via any media; for example, in-person, phone, mail, photographs, voice-mail, audio conferencing, video conferencing, audio recordings, video recordings, e-mail, electronic text messaging, computer files supplied on physical media, and computer files transferred electronically.

 

<Rule P4. Topics for Discussion. If my Mentor expresses unwillingness, reluctance, or discomfort in discussing any topic that I have raised, I shall promptly cease pursuing that topic.>

Discussion. The specific personal issues and the degree of personal detail that are appropriate for discussion will depend strongly on the specific Mentor, the specific Mentee, and the specific circumstances. Therefore, MentorNet does not provide a comprehensive list of appropriate and inappropriate topics and does not provide guidance on the degree of personal detail to be shared: The Mentor and the Mentee should agree on the topics that they are comfortable discussing and on the degree of personal details that they are comfortable sharing. The Mentee, for example, may appropriately initiate discussion of personal topics such as problems with family and friends, religion, and death. The Mentee should, however, approach such topics cautiously and ask the Mentor whether the Mentor wishes to pursue such topics. If the Mentor expresses unwillingness, reluctance, or discomfort in discussing a specific topic, the Mentee shall promptly cease pursuing that specific topic.

 

<Rule P5. Personal Relationships. I shall not pursue a romantic or sexual relationship with my Mentor.>

 

<Rule P6. Meetings in Person. If my Mentor does not wish to meet in person, I shall not insist on a meeting.>

Discussion. If circumstances permit, in-person meetings between the Mentor and the Mentee can be beneficial for developing personal rapport, and the Mentee can often benefit from visiting the Mentor’s workplace. It is appropriate for the Mentee to invite the Mentor to meet in person; but, if the Mentor does not wish to meet in person, then the Mentee shall not insist on a meeting. Additionally, some employers have restrictions on visitors to the workplace.

 

< Rule P7. Prohibited Advice. I shall not seek medical, mental-health, or legal advice from my Mentor.>

Discussion. Medical, mental-health, or legal advice should be provided by a qualified professional. Even if the Mentor is coincidentally a qualified professional (for example, if the Mentor is a physician, psychologist, or attorney), the Mentee shall not request the Mentor for medical, mental-health, or legal advice: Within the MentorNet Program, the Mentor provides guidance for the academic and professional development of the Mentee. The Mentee should seek the assistance of another qualified professional. 

 

<Rule P8. Financial Assistance. I shall not ask my Mentor for money.>

Discussion. In general, the Mentor should avoid giving money to the Mentee. In specific circumstances, the Mentor may volunteer to give money to the Mentee (for example, to assist the Mentee in paying fees for attending a conference). Under no circumstances, however, is it appropriate for the Mentee to ask the Mentor for money.

 

<Rule P9. Career Assistance. I shall not expect my Mentor to find me a job.>

Discussion. For a Mentee who is about to graduate and is seeking employment, much of the discussions with the Mentor will of course focus on career opportunities. It is appropriate, for example, for the Mentee to ask the Mentor to assist in writing a resume and to review a resume. It is also appropriate for the Mentee to ask the Mentor for advice on conducting interviews and for advice on job-search strategies. It is not appropriate, however, for the Mentee to expect the Mentor to act as a job placement service and to circulate the Mentee’s resume as a matter of course. Under specific circumstances, the Mentor may volunteer to circulate the Mentee’s resume among the Mentor’s colleagues and to inquire whether there is a suitable job opening; however, such assistance is strictly at the discretion of the Mentor, and the Mentee shall not expect, or demand, that the Mentor perform such actions as a requirement of the mentorship.

 

< Rule P10. Duty to Report Code Violations. If I observe any Participant behaving in a manner that violates the MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentors or the MentorNet Code of Conduct for Mentees, I shall promptly report my observations to MentorNet staff at program@mentornet.net.>

 

Revision history

The MentorNet Codes of Conduct were last revised on March 11, 2015. (Change Protégé to Mentee)

Previous version: August 25, 2014.

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