Knowledge Center

Sponsoring Women to Success

While mentoring is essential for leadership development, it is insufficient for advancing to top levels. Recent research has pointed to a more influential and specific professional relationship: sponsorship. Lately, organizations and the media have given sponsorship widespread attention, but questions abound. 

Sponsoring Women to Success addresses many of these questions and clarifies what sponsorship is—and isn’t—based on the experiences of people well-positioned to provide answers: executives acting as sponsors and high-performing employees currently being sponsored. The report also presents data, practices, and participant insights that provide actionable advice on how to foster sponsorship within organizations.

Analyses of interviews with 93 women and men participants revealed that sponsorship:

  • Is key to advancing high performers and gives them greater opportunities to excel through skill development and increased visibility.

  • Acts as a differentiator at the top and a means to overcoming barriers for women.

  • Provides valuable benefits to sponsors, including feedback, enhanced skills, increased knowledge of company needs and opportunities, and personal and professional satisfaction.

  • Provides direct and indirect benefits to organizations, including better leaders and teams and increased organizational commitment.

Executive Circle Sponsors: American Express Company, Deloitte LLP

Research Partners: American Express Company, BMO Financial Group, Chevron Corporation, Deloitte LLP, Desjardins Group, Deutsche Bank AG, Ernst & Young LLP, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM Corporation, McDonald’s Corporation, UPS

Additional Information

Sharon Allen, Retired Chairman of the Board, Deloitte LLP, discusses how a sponsor made an impact on her career.