Giving Women More Business Power

Giving Women More Business Power

The Working Mother Research Institute recently reported that although women hold 25% of executive suite positions at the 1,000 largest U.S. corporations, only 6% were CEOs – the others were as chief of human resources.

Despite the number of corporations working to promote women, research has found that there are 4 main reasons these statistics still lag:

  1. Women are less likely than men to have a clear vision of how they want their careers to advance, and most men underestimate the barriers women face. In fact, 48% of men say they have received detailed information on career paths in the past 24 months, yet just 15% of women have.
  2. Far more men than women recognize the critical importance and  benefits derived from networking, mentoring and sponsorship in elevating one’s personal profile, developing one’s brand, and finding allies to help advance. Over half (54%) of men had a career discussion with their mentor or sponsor in the past 24 months, compared with 39% of women.
  3. There are few women role models who can help women visualize themselves in high-level positions, and few senior executive women to provide coaching, mentoring, and sponsorship for other women. This could be why 59% of men aspire to be CEO and only 40% of women make this claim.
  4. Most corporations have a plan for diversity, but the reality of implementing plans to advance women is rare. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of women see a male-dominated culture as an obstacle, and only 21% of men do.

The Center for Talent Innovation reports that there is a key difference in types of support that help women and professionals of color advance their careers when compared with the support given Caucasian men.  The difference is having a sponsor – a person who advocates for you – rather than having just a mentor, who advises you.

Here is the difference between having a mentor and having a sponsor:



Mentors have mentees

Sponsors have protégés.

A mentor could be anyone in a position with experience desired by a mentee who can offer advice and support.

A sponsor is a senior level staff member invested in a protégé’s career success.

Mentors support mentees through formal or informal discussions about how to build skills, qualities and confidence for career advancement

Sponsors promote protégés directly, using their influence and networks to connect them to high-profile assignments, people, pay increases and promotions.

Mentors help mentee craft a career vision

Sponsors help drive their protégé’s career vision

Mentors give mentees suggestions on how to expand their network

Sponsors give protégés their active network connections and make new connections for them

Mentors provide feedback to aid a mentee’s personal and professional development

Sponsors are personally vested in the upward movement of their protégé

Mentors offer insight on how a mentee can increase visibility through finding key projects and people

Sponsors champion their protégés visibility, often using their own platforms and reputation as a medium for exposure.

Mentors passively share the “unwritten” rules” for advancement in their organization with mentees

Sponsors actively model behavior and involve protégés in experiences that enable advancement

Men can improve the chances that women advance by becoming better mentors and sponsors for them, but as yet, the majority of leaders prefer to mentor people who look like them. And confusion about the #MeToo movement may have also unintentionally created a bigger challenge for men who prefer to avoid work relationships with women as a risk management strategy.

But as in most everything, both men and women need to work together to resolve what may be considered “women’s issues” – and there are plenty of men who want to do what is best for both their business and for their employees. Enlisting men as sponsors and mentors, and men willing to take on these roles, can make a huge difference in the success of women, the workforce, and the business itself.