Sponsorship in business does not refer to how you promote a little league team. Instead, it refers to the promotion of diversity through the best pratices of sponsorship of individuals. Often confused by many as "mentoring", sponsorship is something entirely different. What is more, the sponsorship of women is under-supported, and in order to provide a more diverse workplace, that has to change. Here is how to correctly sponsor women in the workplace, and how it differs from mentorship.
The Difference Between Mentorship and Sponsorship
Mentorship means another employee, any employee, can advise and steer another employee's career. While that is good and fine for women who are very new to the company, experienced business women in your company need more than mentors. They need sponsors. Sponsors are high-ranking company executives who can push and promote their proteges into better paying jobs and help get them promoted in better positions. Without a sponsorship, most women candidates with the education and experience remain stuck in career limbo in your company, and that does not encourage or represent the work diversity you are hoping to achieve.
Have Women Sponsor Women, Whenever Possible
If you already have a couple of women in senior executive roles, then these women should be the ones to sponsor other talented women coming into your company. There are a couple of reasons for this woman-to-woman sponsoring:
- A woman in in executive role already knows what it takes to balance the areas in her life and set priorities. She also knows how hard work got her there and how hard she will have to push another woman up through the ranks.
- Woman-to-woman sponsorship helps inspire other women to excel and stay with the company longer.
- There is less of a chance for potential sexual harassment when women coach and push other women rather than men coaching and pushing women.
Men can still sponsor women in the company, so long as they have the rank, the political clout and the professionalism needed to make the working relationship between the genders appropriate and functional.
Training Mentors to Be Sponsors
If the only program you have in place in your company right now is a sort of unspoken mentorship, you can change that. There are agencies who work with many businesses on building workplace diversity, and several can help mentors become sponsors while establishing a sponsorship program for your company. Contact a sponsorship and/or workplace diversity training company, like DiversityInc Best Practices today.