Aside from impacting employees’ own personal career goals, sponsorship can also positively influence business operations as a whole.
Sponsorship can lead to greater diversity in the workplace, which tends to help a company’s overall success. According to research, organizations with gender-balanced leadership outperform those without. Worldwide, more men than women hold leadership positions, but sponsorship gives women the opportunity to prove that they deserve a seat at the executive table. The same is true for employees diverse racial backgrounds, religious preferences, etc.
Companies who are seriously trying to make senior management positions accessible for all employees need to be aware of the invisible barriers that hold them back. Some preconceptions are deeply ingrained into our minds, leading to counterproductive behavior in the workplace.
For example, some executives believe women are a greater risk for senior positions because of family responsibilities. This is especially true for working mothers who would need to travel or manage stressful situations in a new position. Additionally, they may unconsciously fail to give women tough feedback that would help them grow as a professional.
This is a huge problem in the United States, but the problem is even more pronounced in other countries; Germany and India are two examples.
Formal Sponsorship Programs
Formal sponsorship programs are the best way to ensure that a company is fully committing to the initiative. According to research from the past decade, it’s in an organization’s best interest to have a sponsorship program.
One study showed a strong relationship between sponsorship programs and company loyalty. Of employees surveyed who intended to stay with their company for at least 5 years, 68% had a mentor or sponsor and 32% didn’t. This implies that investing time in developing younger employees could lead to a reduced turnover rate.
Without a heavy focus on sponsorship, the subconscious prejudices mentioned above could creep into the daily workings of an organization. When this happens, capable people might be passed over for leadership positions because of factors that aren’t related to their performance or work ethic. For the health of the organization, it’s important to look at each person individually to determine the best fit for a promotion or major project.
Large companies like Morgan Stanley, Time Warner, Intel, Deloitte, etc. have all begun working on programs to develop sponsorship networks within their organizations.
With all the potential benefits, it’s no wonder these major companies are investing time and resources into encouraging sponsorship.
In my next blog, I’ll give you a deeper look at how men and women view networking differently and how sponsorship can mitigate the consequences.