Buddy System - Definition and Explanation

Buddy System – Definition and Explanation

Buddy System

Understanding the Buddy System in the Workplace: Fostering DEI

In the realm of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), the buddy system emerges as a powerful tool for fostering a supportive and inclusive workplace culture. 


The buddy system in the workplace refers to a structured approach where new employees are paired with existing employees, often referred to as “buddies” or mentors, to facilitate their integration into the company culture, processes, and workflows. This system aims to provide support, guidance, and a sense of belonging to newcomers, thereby enhancing their overall experience within the organisation.


The buddy system plays a pivotal role in advancing DEI initiatives within organisations. By pairing individuals from diverse backgrounds as buddies, companies create opportunities for cross-cultural exchange, empathy building, and understanding. This fosters an inclusive environment where differences are celebrated, and employees feel valued irrespective of their background, ethnicity, or identity.


Implementing a successful buddy system requires careful planning and execution. Companies can start by assigning buddies based on shared interests, experiences, or backgrounds to facilitate meaningful connections. Training sessions for both mentors and mentees can be conducted to set expectations, establish boundaries, and equip participants with effective communication and mentoring skills.


Imagine a scenario in a UK-based tech firm where a new hire, Sarah, joins the team. As part of the buddy system, Sarah is paired with an experienced employee, James, who shares similar professional interests. James welcomes Sarah on her first day, gives her a tour of the office, introduces her to colleagues, and provides insights into the company culture. Over the following weeks, James continues to support Sarah by offering guidance on projects, facilitating networking opportunities, and addressing any challenges she encounters. Through this buddy relationship, Sarah feels empowered, supported, and valued within the organisation.


Incorporating the buddy system into the workplace not only aids in the seamless integration of new hires but also serves as a catalyst for DEI efforts. By fostering meaningful connections and promoting mutual respect and understanding, the buddy system contributes to building a more inclusive and supportive work environment. Embracing this approach underscores a company’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, ultimately driving employee engagement, retention, and organisational success.


Peterson, J. L., & Norman, T. A. (1977). Buddy systems. Communications of the ACM, 20(6), 421-431. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/359605.359626

O’Donnell, C. R., Lydgate, T., & Fo, W. S. (1979). The buddy system: Review and follow-up. Child Behavior Therapy, 1(2), 161-169. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J473v01n02_03

Lopez, P. J., & Gillespie, K. (2016). A love story: for ‘Buddy System’research in the academy. Gender, Place & Culture, 23(12), 1689-1700. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0966369X.2016.1249354

Fo, W. S., & O’Donnell, C. R. (1975). The buddy system: Effect of community intervention on delinquent offenses. Behavior Therapy, 6(4), 522-524. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0005789475800086

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