Engaging PersonALLY: Mentorship & Sponsorship Are Keys to Allyship
If your company isn’t offering mentorship or sponsorship opportunities, you’re missing out on a crucial piece of allyship. Don’t make your professional women and moms of color develop alone – invest the time to seek out mentors and sponsors for your employees.
What is mentorship?
Mentorship is the exchange of information from a mentor (often older, but always more knowledgeable) to a mentee (anyone looking to learn). Mentors can act as guides to mentees with less experience in a field, industry, or particular work environment. Mentorship often occurs one-on-one, but it can also successfully occur in a group setting.
Mentorship can be valuable to professional women and moms of color who are looking to break into a new career field, increase their self-sufficiency and confidence in a new role, and overcome bias in the workplace.
What is sponsorship?
One definition of sponsorship is a “brand deal,” such as partnerships between athletes and sports gear. However, sponsorship within the workplace is a bit different! A mentor might evolve into a sponsor for a mentee after the mentee has developed and grown to the point of self-sufficiency. Another word for a sponsor in this context is an advocate. A sponsor could assist in helping their former mentee (now peer) make connections, be visible for promotions, and have a voice in making a significant change or impact.
Professional women and moms of color can benefit from sponsorship in many ways, but one major impact is influence. When women and moms of color have sponsors advocating for them in positions and places of influence, they also gain influence.
How do I get started?
If you’re ready to add mentorship to your company’s impact, here are three ways to get started:
Talk to your employees and management team to determine interest. Find out who is interested in being mentored and who would like to do the mentoring. Determine what topics mentees are most curious to learn about. Starting conversations is key to kicking off successful programs!
Brainstorm with your leadership team about how to pair mentors and mentees effectively. Pairing strategies might include a questionnaire with detailed questions about goals and personality traits, or personal interviews with a team member who can determine like-minded mentors and mentees. It’s important to set up employees with mentors they “click” with, which will create longer and more impactful relationships.
Communicate the mentorship program to your team slowly and methodically. Once you’ve created a mentorship program structure and are excited about it, it can be tempting to roll out the details to your team immediately. However, many employees will feel blindsided or like it’s “just another” initiative that they’ll dismiss without too much thought. Instead, take the time to explain to your employees the value of mentorship, the implications of participating, and how mentorship fits into the company culture as a whole. Weaving mentorship into the DNA of your employee culture will take time, but it’s a valuable investment!
At We Optimize Work, we want to help you ally with professional women and moms of color. Let us partner with you so that you can start doing allyship right! Email Domonique at email@example.com or reach out to her personally on LinkedIn to get started.