Want More Diverse Senior Leadership? Sponsor Junior Talent | Harvard Business Review

Talent Development
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As the sense of urgency intensifies for better diversity and inclusion outcomes, many organizations continue to develop and implement new ways to diversify talent pipelines for senior roles. And while not a magic bullet, one practice that firms are leveraging in this regard is: sponsorship. Sponsorship within this context refers to “a helping relationship in which senior, powerful people use their clout to talk up, advocate for, and place a more junior person in a key role.” Although the concept of sponsorship may appear similar to mentorship, mentors share their knowledge, perspective, and experience, as pointed out in this article. In contrast, sponsors wield their power on behalf of their protégés. The article offers four ideas on how to drive sponsorship, ranging from how to best pair sponsors and protégés, to training both sponsors and protégés to manage “like me” bias. The illustration in the article provides an effective way to depict how sponsorship covers a range of different kinds of support, including 1) Mentor – provide advice and coaching, 2) Strategizer– strategize on how to get ahead within the organization, 3) Connector – making introductions to influential people, 4) Opportunity Giver – provide high-visibility opportunities, and 5) Advocate – advocate for the person in situations where he/she can’t advocate for him/herself. By introducing these five components of sponsorship, organizations can accelerate diversifying their talent pipeline for senior roles.

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