Sponsorship and Mentoring: Ask Catalyst ExpressOct 28, 2020
“A role model talks by example, a coach talks to you, a mentor talks with you, and a sponsor talks about you.”
Sponsors, mentors, coaches, and role models can all make a difference in how individuals advance through organizations but there are key differences between each. Role models exemplify successful behaviors and, while the way they perform may be very visible to you, you may have never met or spoken to them. Coaches provide guidance on development and often help with soft skills, such as active listening. Mentors help their mentees navigate their careers choices through formal or informal mentoring relationships. Sponsors use their influence or leadership status to advocate for the advancement of an individual. They are often senior leaders or other people of power appropriately placed within an organization who help protégés obtain high-visibility projects or jobs. When women have sponsors, it can narrow the advancement gap between women and men. Understanding these differences can assist when embarking on these work relationships. Learn the most critical elements of sponsorship programs and mentoring partnerships and how to make the most of your role on either side of the equation.
Catalyst Sponsorship and Mentoring Resources
Establishing Program and Partnerships
- Catalyst Sponsorship Guide Supporter-Exclusive
- Fostering Sponsorship Success Among High Performers and Leaders Supporter-Exclusive
- Optimizing Mentoring Programs for Women of Color Supporter-Exclusive
- Medtronic—Igniting Women to Lead Through the Medtronic Women’s Network Supporter-Exclusive
Excerpt: “Another effective development program, created by the African Descent Network, is LIFT (Leadership Inclusion from Mentorship Towards Sponsorship), a nine-month program for high potential employees of African and Hispanic/Latinx descent that strategically pairs them with sponsors based on business and career goals. This program, which is anchored in business acumen, leadership development, and sponsorship, has been tremendously successful: 40% of participants have been promoted, demonstrating their accelerated personal growth through pivotal experiences.”
- Unilever—Changing the Game, Unlocking the FutureSupporter-Exclusive
Excerpt: “When Unilever outlined its strategy for the initiative’s third key area of focus—providing greater access to training and opportunities to learn new skills—it decided to create programs that not only help to advance women into management but also foster an inclusive work environment, especially in hot spot areas. For example, the Supply Chain Female Mentoring program enabled over 45 senior leaders at the vice-president level and above to mentor and coach more than 90 women directors in a hot spot where women historically have found it difficult to succeed. Another example: under the Finance Sponsorship program, launched in 2018 for vice presidents and vice president-ready women directors, each member of the Global Finance Leadership Team sponsors a woman leader.”
- Nationwide—Our Associates’ Success Drives Business Success Supporter-Exclusive
Excerpt: “Nationwide’s Touch Point program, launched in 2010, exposes the OCEO to executive talent across the organization, which includes women and women of color. Participants are introduced to the Board of Directors, both to present their work and as guests at Board luncheons and other forums. Many of them cite this program as key to their growth. To date, 48% of participants at the senior executive level have been women, including 16% women of color.”
- The Chubb Corporation—Mentoring as a Strategy for Gender Inclusion: A New Vision for Advancing Women and Engaging Men Supporter-Exclusive
Excerpt: “This strategic mentoring program provides junior men and women with career development support and exposure to the top 1% of the organization, while demonstrating that top leadership includes many successful women who are fully equipped to mentor rising talent. It also gives the men an opportunity to learn about and engage in the work of the Women’s Development Council, which in turn helps the council to broaden its message and reach.”
Understanding the Benefits
- Sponsoring Women to Success contains data, practices, and participant insights that provide actionable advice on how to foster sponsorship within organizations.
- Making Mentoring Work offers insights to help organizations maximize their mentoring efforts, including information on building robust formal mentoring programs from the ground up as well as on ways to leverage existing formal mentoring programs.
- Mentoring: Necessary But Insufficient For Advancement highlights the distinction between mentoring (career advice and guidance) and sponsorship (advocacy by someone highly placed in the organization) and examines the impact of mentoring on the career advancement of high potentials. It also includes insights from senior leaders on sponsorship activities being undertaken in their organizations.
- Fostering Sponsorship at Your Organization Supporter-Exclusive
- International Women’s Day: The Power of Sponsorship Supporter-Exclusive
- Maximizing Mentoring and Securing Sponsorship Supporter-Exclusive
- Catalyst Women on Board™: Sponsorship Sparks Change
Corporate boards have long been territory dominated by white males, and this entrenched tradition has been very slow to change. Even today, the boards of the S&P 500 are almost 80% male. Women hold only about 21% of S&P 500 board seats, and women of color are almost invisible—they hold less than 4% of Fortune 500 board seats. But there is a simple yet powerful way to accelerate change: sponsorship.
Other Sponsorship and Mentoring Resources
- Women Sponsorship Driving Innovation & Performance Accenture
- Sponsoring Women’s Success: Executive leaders’ views on sponsoring and mentoring 30 % Club
- Why You Need A Role Model, Mentor, Coach and Sponsor Forbes
- The Benefits of Having a Workplace Sponsor and How to Get One The Balance Careers
- Mentorship, Sponsorship, and Networks: The Power and Value of Professional Connections Bentley University: Gloria Cordes Larson Center for Women and Business
- What Men Can Do to Be Better Mentors and Sponsors to Women Harvard Business Review
- How to Be an Effective Executive Sponsor Harvard Business Review
- Mentor Her Lean In
- Men Are Afraid to Mentor Women. Here’s What We Can Do About It LinkedIn
- Sponsorship Toolkit National Center for Women & Information Technology
- Evaluating a Mentoring Program Guide National Center for Women & Information Technology
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