Mars & Venus? Big New Studies on Women in Tech from IDC and Northwestern

by MacKenzie Moore, Director, Twomentor LLC

The fact that women are underrepresented in tech (and STEM jobs in general) is frankly not news: the lack of representation of women and minorities in tech gained visibility 5-7 years ago and exploded when Google and other tech companies released their diversity reports. So, what’s new? Recently, we are seeing new and exciting research pointing to the causes for the lack of diversity and solutions for shifting cultures to advance women in the workplace. Spoiler alert: think unconscious bias and inadequate support networks.

 

A few weeks ago, Julie Kantor (CEO of Twomentor) was speaking at the Women in Technology International conference where they, in partnership with the IDC, shared compelling evidence for the prevalence and influence of unconscious bias surrounding all forms of diversity in the workplace. The study found that across all nine categories of diversity (ethnic, age, religious, sexual, political, racial, socio-economic, gender and disabilities) men consistently rated their organizations as more diverse that women. The largest gap occurred in gender diversity, with 45% of men rating their organization as very diverse versus only 28% of women.

 

Across 12 statements on gender diversity and women in tech, men and women only agreed on one: “there is a lack of female candidates for STEM roles.” The responses to the other 11 statements made it clear there is a disconnect between the perception many men have of the working conditions and desires for women in the workplace and the reality reflected in the women’s responses. For example, 22% of men highly agreed with the statement “our workplace culture is geared towards men” versus 45% of women. 42% of men highly agreed with the statement “men and women in STEM roles are paid at approximately the same rate at my organization” as opposed to 24% of women. The authors point out “people simply don’t know what they don’t know” and bringing this unconscious bias to the forefront of education, training and workforce development is critical to elevating women in the workplace.

 

The IDC and WITI point out a common misconception that women primarily want flexibility in the workplace and job benefits. In reality, the main career gaps for women in tech are compensation and pay, work/life balance and a sense of purpose. These three gaps are closely followed by opportunities for promotion and ongoing skills learning. Given that men hold 75% of all jobs in IT, men play a critical role in filling (or making it possible for women) to fill these career gaps and changing the corporate culture of tech companies.

 

There is promising news: multiple studies (first a study published last February by the PNAS and now the research from the WITI conference) have shown that one promising method of elevating women in the workplace is providing and facilitating access to adequate support networks and mentorship for women.

 

WITI and the IDC found that use of a professional mentor is positively correlated with a 10-17% higher income for both men and women. 84% of men who earn above $250,000 have had a mentor as opposed to only 69% of women. Additionally, men with mentors receive more frequent mentorship than women, with 70% of men meeting with their mentors daily or weekly, as opposed to only 29% of women.

 

Researchers at Northwestern University published a report in the PNAS (see the HBR article here) show that successful men and women have very different support networks. Successful men had social networks with “centrality” – a close circle that shared information on job prospects and employers. Successful women also had high centrality, but they had an additional network of 1-3 women supporting them. The dual network goes beyond providing information on job prospects and employers—it gives them information on corporate culture, how friendly the workplace is to women, and a network to ask for support when challenges arise.

 

The same study found that women who had strong dual networks (high centrality like men and a female circle) “landed leadership positions that were 2.5 times higher in authority and pay than those of their female peers lacking this combination.” And if women’s networks were most similar to male support networks: high centrality and no inner circle of women, they were placed in leadership positions that were the lowest in authority and pay.

 

Now, it is important to note that this study was performed on MBA students and not women in tech. More research is needed to confirm that successful women across sectors succeed with similar support networks. However, the needs described by the IDC’s report on women in tech are the focus of women support networks found in the study on MBAs: the women support networks were sharing advice and knowledge of workplace culture, female friendly work policies, lack of work/life balance and opportunities for promotion,

 

Taken together, these studies show men and women both need to be part of the solution to advancing women in tech. A creative and holistic approach to promoting women in the workplace is necessary. First, address unconscious bias in the workplace. Open up discussions and trainings on unconscious bias in your workplace. Are there pay gaps? Are you providing women with access to a wide array of support networks? Remember, the goal is to give them a way to develop high centrality and to choose a close inner circle of women across all facets of the organization, and in their department.

 

Mentoring programs targeted to shift corporate culture, create support networks for women, and address unconscious bias are shown to be very effective.

 

Reach out to the team at Twomentor for best practices, the latest research and a mentoring program customized to your business objectives. Contact: MacKenzie@Twomentor.com

 

Does She Need a Role Model, a Mentor, or a Sponsor?

It was about time to get the word ‘women’ into ‘mentor’. So, I did. Just launched my new company twomentor (t-women-tor), LLC to get the words ‘women’ and ‘men’ into STEM mentoring. It will take a unified approach. Today we celebrate twomentor’s one month anniversary with this blog and luckily not Pampers and Medella equipment at this stage of raising her.

So do girls and young women need a role model, a mentor or a sponsor? Likely all three along their professional paths.

If we want to recruit, develop, retain great girls & women in the STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) workforce we need to look at the whole pipeline and what women most need at different phases.

Reflecting back, I realize I needed three things personally and professionally:

1] A Role Model

2] A Mentor

3] A Sponsor

A role model was needed to show examples of great women: in science, in Senate, as leaders, board members, in tech, as business owners, and perhaps soon as President of the USA. The women in my family also served as key role models of women who found professional fulfillment, have families, and hung out with great loyalty with their girl friends (Mom and Ina just celebrated 55 years ‘together’ as BFFs). My father who came to America as a refugee from Hungary served also as a powerful example of resiliency and perseverance. He also taught me gratitude.

A mentor took on the role in a socratic way of helping me find answers within myself. In middle school a mentor (Karen C.) gave me an internship and taught me that I love small business. She let me work at her store for three years and helped me build some skills such as: inventory management, running the cash register, making marketing signs with Mr. Sketch pens, customer service and more. Mostly, she taught me to love work. I haven’t stopped working since, a dozen jobs and a few degrees later. A college mentor taught me how to get my work published and how to see others in their plights. A peer mentor got me into an interview for my first job at the company she worked at. Another mentor more recently taught me how to use a 3D printer. One of my mentors is a 72 year old dynamo and one is a 19 year old tech whiz.

Mentors came into my life as welcomed guides and were both male and female. One common ingredient was they all reflected that I had to have faith in myself, believing in me often before I believed in myself.

While a Mentor encourages one to climb the work ‘tree’ to new heights, a sponsor  takes on the role of going out on a limb for others. In other words, a mentor speaks to you and a sponsor speaks about you and advocates for you behind closed doors. Mike Caslin was such a sponsor in my life and I wrote about him HERE. Mike mentored me when I ran Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship in a few markets and then he championed me to take his national VP job after serving the company 20 extraordinary years. Other people wanted the job and he was the one to say ‘Let’s choose Julie.’ At several conferences recently, women would approach me and ask how to get such a sponsor. From all these discussions & research, I am becoming more convinced that we lose professional women mid-career because they do not have a sponsor.

I reflect back and clearly understand I needed three things from girl to career woman: a Role Model (s), a Mentor (s), a Sponsor (s). I think my start-up needs all three, and gratefully, they are all swirling around twomentor, llc as key advisors.

 

But I need to acknowledge something else here.

I am also now needed more than ever to be a Role Model, a Mentor and/or a Sponsor and I suspect you are too. It’s time to start. Start simple (invite her/him for coffee chat). Start soon. Invest in her. Pay it forward.

Julie Kantor is a global speaker on women in STEM, President & CEO of Twomentor, LLC offering mentor training and strategy to America’s top corporations. She is also Senior Advisor to Million Women Mentors and STEMconnector. 

Mentoring is the Down Payment on Our Future

“Service is the Rent We Pay for Living,” said our high school graduation speaker Marian Wright Edelman in 1987.

I agree. And reflecting add, Mentoring is the Down payment on our Future.

For the busy working woman, service & mentoring can be tough. We are increasing the hours at the office, online at home, squeezing in quality time for our kids, our partners, trying to be decent daughters and daughters in law. We have less time with our girlfriends which we know is a key linkage to our sanity. And its not just working mothers, fathers want more time with their kids too and millenials have worlds of interests outside of the office with a distinct entrepreneurial mindset to their careers.

… But they need us.

We are needed to be mentors and champion others. Especially as we grow in influence and have more sophisticated decision-making networks. A few words of wisdom, a listening ear, some concrete guidance, can make a world of difference to someone in job transition or trying to find their way post-college.

… And we need us.

As we start realizing that the workforce is not the diverse, merit based system we thought it was and that there are political nuances we need to understand. The stats are dismal when it comes to women on boards, in leadership roles, in STEM. We learn we need to lift each other up and consider applying a two-candle perspective (when a candle lights another candle, they can both light others and all shine equally bright. ) We need to not compete for single digit spots, but push to create and open up more seats at the table.

So I have an action item for us all (male and female). Bring on an intern this Summer. Run an ad at your local University, on Craigslist, get your HR office to help. Give her a project where she works with you on something big. Set goals. Invite her to meetings with you. Interview her on her aspirations. Have her meet with two other executives you admire. Have her represent you at an event or listen in to important calls. Teach her to use technology in a work setting, software, have her teach you (reverse mentoring). Be open about your successes and failures.

If you are looking for more diversity in your workplace, consider this part of an on-boarding strategy.

BTW – you can count your intern mentee as part of the Million Women Mentors as can your colleagues who do the same.

Light her candle, let in some additional light and life to your workplace … as she is a daughter, a sister, potentially a future mother, scientist, IT leader and she needs you to help her light up her path.

Is Corporate Mentoring Nice to Have or Have to Have?

Courtesy of Pixabay

In this weeks’ NYTimes, there was a great article “Executive Mentors Wanted: Only Millennials Need Apply,” by Kevin Roose. The topic is seasoned leaders getting mentored by our younger workforce (reverse mentoring). Jack Welch coined the phrase and we are fans of it. We actually highlighted two months ago an interview on a great initiative at Pershing (BNY Mellon Co.) where 96% of Millennial mentors stayed at their jobs four years out. It’s empowering for all parties as we grow and strengthen ties in our multi-generational workforce.

What troubles us is each day we speak to companies who are shying away from mentoring their new hires and building sponsorship initiatives to elevate women and high potential diverse employees. Companies hope mentoring is happening informally, have trouble selling it up, but each time we survey large rooms of executives and grad students, less than 40% report they have a professional mentor. Roose’s article articulated the issue and the need well, that we can no longer shirk our responsibility (and as we like to say in training, the building of our Living Legacies):

“As reverse mentoring programs grow in popularity, some young workers still lack the traditional, top-down mentorship meant to help them rise in their careers. According to a 2016 report by Deloitte, the consulting firm, more than half of young workers said their leadership skills were not being fully developed in the workplace.”… “It really is the opposite of the mentorship offer that firms have historically made to young people,” Mr. Harris said [Malcolm Harris, the author of new book “Kids These Days”]. “Now it’s just, ‘We want you to come work for us, and teach us how to do our jobs.’ ”

I guess the point is reverse mentoring, diverse mentoring, peer mentoring, traditional mentoring… we need to be much more deliberate in engineering the opportunities to drive employee engagement and retention. We’ve decided to extend our 2018 offer to help you get started. We want to see your multi-generational workforce thrive in 2018! We can help you think this through. Let’s talk!

Julie

julie@twomentor.com

You can learn more about Twomentor with our latest Overview Prezi herehttps://prezi.com/p/mtpvhyrq5_op/

Learn more about the issues: Video on Elevating Women and Millennials in the Workforce http://bit.ly/1SZ8wrq

Time to Mentor 2.0 (Mentor+Sponsor)

I was on cloud 91/2 last week at the Diversity Women’s Leadership Conference put on Diversity Woman Magazine at the Grand Floridian (heaven, two thumbs up!). It had heart, some of America’s top Diversity Leaders, 1:1 coaching, and great content. A common theme was how to recruit and retain top STEM talent, especially women and minorities. There was also a new recognition with many leaders that STEM is a new perspective on Diversity and we need more Diversity in STEM.

We will see global diversity in who possesses next generation capabilities (employability skills, digital fluency, and innovation excellence) for tomorrow’s global STEM jobs? This demand side approach (what companies need- the jobs) + new capabilities (employability skills) = STEM 2.0

I have written a lot on this topic HERE, and in partnership with Tata Consultancy Services we put out White Papers: Women in STEM Realizing the Potential.

Mentoring has a key role to play on moving the needle for girls & young women professionally and we need to much more to recruit, onboard and retain diverse STEM talent. Most of the companies at the conference advocated heavily for formal and informal mentoring within their corporations. One challenge in the informal space was an inability to put metrics and outcomes behind it. Remember, you get what you measure. Mentoring increases employee satisfaction and retention. TheBusiness Case for Mentoring by our friends at Chronus shares a lot of good datapoints. For example, note the huge increase in mentor and mentee retention at Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle) 2006 case study as well as who got salary increases and promotions

To take a step back…

Mentor 1.0 over the past several decades was:

– How is your home life?
– Let’s discuss thoughts on career life balance
– College and application help
– Let’s work together on your resume
– Let’s go to a movie or shoot some hoops

There is much value in Mentoring 1.0 and the care and support behind it.

The difference is Mentor 2.0 includes a distinct skills-based focus and sponsorship component* ie.:

– Here are the specific skills you will need to make it in the 21st century economy
– Let’s discuss job opportunities in various geographies and what they pay (women in STEM make 92 cents on a dollar for example of what men make vs. other careers that pay 77 cents on a dollar)
– Let’s discuss what type of education and experience you will need to get a good job or advance in your career
– Let’s connect you with opportunity (FIRST robotics competition, Python coding class, Sit down with CEO of a IT firm and create an opportunity to shadow her, Visit a laboratory …)
– Let’s have lunch with the SVP at XYZ company and focus on three things we want to learn about his/her professional path and work.
– Let’s see if we can get you a summer internship ( Did you know according to Gallup only 4.5% of high school students were in Summer internships last year? )
– Have you set up a Linkedin page? Let’s take an online networking class, together
– Let’s discuss two key books for young women over Sushi and blue sparkly pedicures:The Confidence Code and Executive Presence

 

* Put simply, Mentor 2.0 will have a key role in on-boarding and retaining a diverse workforce as we combine skills-based Mentoring and most ideally Sponsorship.

A mentor talks to you, listens and guides you.

A sponsor talks about you. Your sponsor (who respects you highly and knows exactly what your capable of) champions you for opportunity (internships, jobs, promotions, university entrance).

Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s CTI research showed us that men are 46% more likely to have a sponsor. Women in STEM often also share they have male sponsors that truly helped them in their careers and opened doors.

Women will likely feel more comfortable starting as a mentor. Then with a growing good relationship and rapport, move it to a Mentor 2.0 relationship, and then to Sponsorship (or helping find a sponsor through advocacy of your mentee). This Mentor 2.0 strategy will dramatically expedite a diverse STEM workforce with both mentor and mentee high-fiving.

But don’t get all Geico- caddywhompus with concerns. Start with just 2 hours a month, 20 hours a year with your mentee and request your mentee pay-it-forward too.

Julie Kantor is President & CEO of Twomentor, LLC a management consulting firm that builds mentoring cultures & elevates women in STEM. She lives in Bethesda Maryland with her husband, middle school daughter and Havanese puppy, Naomi.

Going Through Big Corporate Changes? Time to Start Mentoring Initiative at Your Company

What happens when the leaders leave (or are replaced)? When the revenues are not resembling hockey stick performance? When a big company gobbles up a smaller company? When there is an 8% layoff of the workforce? People start feeling like their jobs might be on the line. They feel a new leader might not understand their contributions. They might feel someone is trying to steal their lunch. Culture changes. Isolation increases along with Indeed.com searches. Linkedin resumes get brushed up. Mistrust or toxicity coupled with insomnia can seep in. 

I’ve heard it many times in my five years of building mentoring initiatives. “Julie, with all the change, shouldn’t we wait until after things calm down to get started with our mentoring initiative?” a top HR executive asked me.

In running both mentor and mentee training, often the rising-star mentee is looking for someone who can help them navigate the new environment. Someone who will sit down with an iced coffee (or Ben & Jerry’s pint) for a chat, a safe haven to reflect on, ‘How do I best position myself in the midst of change?’ ‘How do I get off to the right start with my new boss?’ ‘How can I be part of the solution, when I am worried about how things are going financially?’

The mentor, often with more experience, might not have all the answers, but likely has experienced more change in their tenure and will have new perspectives to offer up.

The mentor serves as a role model. They care about their mentees goals and objectives and can be instrumental in talking someone ‘off a ledge’ who is nervous. Encourager and challenger, the mentor often will help the mentee understand their role in better ‘owning’ their career trajectory and not being the victim in a who-moved-my-cheese environment that we are seeing more and more.  Change = Today’s Reality.

I was watching Good Morning America a month ago and the words ‘America’s Loneliness Epidemic’ crawled across the bottom of the screen. Curious, I Googled the UCLA research and it was eye-opening. Almost 1:2 Americans (20,000 in the study) stated that they sometimes or always feel alone, lonely or left out. Particularly hard hit are our youngest generations. How does that manifest in a workplace which is often a key pillar in our lives and psychological/financial stability? Read more HERE on the study’s findings.

In building a pilot-to-sustainable and scalable mentoring initiative, we create an opportunity for our workforce to not isolate. A world where people are recognized for helping-each-other. We engineer and hold the space for people to connect with morale-boosting support from the top. Employees have the learning conversations with structure in place.

When I ask hundreds of mentors in trainings what do people most come to them for advice on, the response is usually:

1] To help them advance their career,

2] To learn how to network better,

3] To be better at people management, leadership and

4] To help them prioritize

With the fast-paced corporate growth and more predictable flux ahead, do you want to wait for another season or reason to show your people you are a stand for them as they take a stand for each other?

Julie Kantor is CEO of Twomentor, LLC a high impact company that provides mentor strategy, training and execution for large companies and organizations. She can be reached at julie@twomentor.com

Developing & Mentoring Your Junior Sales Force

Courtesy of Pixabay

“The best players do not always make the best coaches or mentors,” said a Commercial Real Estate HR leader Stephen* on the phone recently.

“I am leaving the company because they just handed me a phone book, a quota and want me to sink or swim. There has been almost no training, they get irritated when I ask questions and don’t even let me attend the meetings I set up,” said Rachel* who is in the Insurance business.

“Our senior brokers, the ones who are making 700k, a million+ a year. They don’t mentor. They give a new associate $20 and say ‘buy yourself a cup of coffee too.’ That’s the extent of it, but they think they are mentoring,” says Mitchell* a veteran executive who manages operations. “They are entrepreneurs and we barely see them in the office.”

We know that baby boomer sales rockstars are close to retiring and that our younger workforce needs more training and development to feel they can be successful (or they leave).

The proverbial old boy’s network exists yet Linkedin and other networking platforms are reducing social interactions as people Link-off the golf course and isolate behind the blue screens.

It’s time to double down on mentoring to prepare, engage, retain, diversify our company’s future rainmakers but how do we do it?

“My associate gets 30% (commission) on my deals now,” says SVP Jared.* It used to be 20%, but he has doubled the number of sales calls we go on and does the big research. “I mentored him when he started and now that our financial success is linked, I guess I am his sponsor as well,” states Jared. (We discussed that a mentor speaks with you and a sponsor speaks about you, champions you to others).

Jared, a people person who is in his 40’s meets regularly with three junior associates that do not report to him directly and often discusses:

1] How he and his associates set up and manage their pipeline.

2] Moves management.

3] How to deal with the “death valley” (rejection and no sales for a period of time) and his many failures.

4] How and where to best network + cold call.

5] Closing-the-deal strategies and breakthroughs.

6] Financial projections.

7] Where the best Greek food is near the office and more.

Linda*, Adrian* and Sara* started coming to him more and more for mentoring over the past six months as he was one of the few senior salespeople who would stop the world for them. Jared is generous with his time and shares that he gets a lot out of supporting them as well. People mentored him early on and he wants to pay-it-forward.

So what do you do to boost the development of your junior executives?

Well, to get started, we recommend the following three steps:

1] If you are in HR/learning/diversity do some speed/flash mentoring at lunch or a happy hour to break down the barriers and help people better recognize the value proposition of both helping others and asking for help. If you are a sales rainmaker, reach out and schedule coffee/lunch today with 1 – 3 people you can help. Don’t wait. In fact, pause from reading this article, send three texts. Your time = money and your investment of time in them = 10x.

2] Have people from session #1 (senior execs and non-reporting junior execs) agree to meet with each other three times over the next 6-8 weeks (or 6x over 6 months) to discuss:

Sample topics: Best deal, worst deal, last deal, skill(s) that I need the most to be successful, how to close, where to network, sales funnel, overcoming challenges, use of Linkedin, volunteer/board service, falling and then getting back up, and more.

Extra credit if the junior exec can attend or observe the senior exec on a sales call or two. When we run these Flash sessions for clients, we love to give out lunch cards or Starbucks cards to boost these 1:1 connections and illustrate the company values mentoring.

3] Provide mentor + mentee training (we can help) via webinar or in person. We also recommend co-sponsor training for mid-level to senior executives (how do people from different industries champion each other for opportunities with a WIN/WIN mindset).

“My associate just found in his research that a transaction happened that we didn’t know about,” said Jared. “We need to send them an invoice right away.” When he told me the dollar amount, well, my eyes bugged out that his associate caught that one.

###

Julie Kantor is CEO of Twomentor, LLC a high impact company that provides mentor strategy, execution, mentor and mentee trainings, flash mentoring, business case keynotes and more. We’d love to connect and discuss your needs. To schedule, contact, Sophia@twomentor.com

Building Corporate Mentoring Initiatives & 8 Steps to Get Started

We are at the halfway mark with our 18 cities Corporate Mentor Roadtrip™ (see below) this year with amazing partners and are very excited to share with you some big learning!

In this video, you will learn how corporate and organizational mentoring drives:

1] Inclusion, community and belonging in your workforce

2] Better retention and helps onboard your newer employees and interns

3] Elevates leaders & high potential employees w/ succession planning + increased management capabilities

4] Increases knowledge transfer between the generations in a reciprocal manner

Thank You AVIXA, Anthem, MITRE, Banco Sabadell, NextEra Energy, Women in Technology International, Abbott/St Judes, University of Delaware, ASAE, Optics Society of America, Hazelden/ Betty Ford, Active Minds, Chemonics, South Florida Business Journal for being wonderful partners in this journey!

THE MENTOR ROAD TRIP™ JOURNEY 2019

1] Ft Lauderdale, FL Expo Center (Mistress of Ceremonies for Women in Technology Conference)
2] Los Angeles, CA (Keynote and Flash Mentoring for Audio Visual Industry Executives)
3] Fort Lauderdale, FL (Keynote for 200+ Female Executive Mentors & Mentees for South Florida Business Journal at FIU)
4] Minneapolis, MN (Mentor Training for Medical Sales Executives)
5] New York City, NY (Catalyst Conference for Best Practices for Women Executives + Offsite Session on Men as Allies)
6] McLean, VA (Inclusion Mentoring Training for Government Contractor)
7] Bedford, MA (Inclusion Mentoring Training for Research & Development Industry)
8] Delaware (Alumni Mentoring in Legal Profession for University of Delaware)
9] Global webinar session for Association Leaders with ASAE (Mentor 2.0- Mentor + Sponsorship to Grow Your Leadership)
10] San Francisco, CA (Leaders in the Optics Industry)
11] Bogota, Columbia (Entrepreneurship + Mentoring with EO)
12] San Jose, CA (Emcee and Presenter for Women in Technology International)
13] Orlando, FL (Mentoring @ Sea Flash Mentoring Session at InfoComm)
14] St Paul, MN (Leadership Session on Mentoring and Sponsorship for top executives in the treatment/addiction industry) 16] Indianapolis (Training for Healthcare Leaders)
15] Toronto, Canada (Mentor + Mentee Training for AV and IT Executives)
16] Jupiter, FL [Best Practices in Internship program mentor training for MBA’s)
17] Dallas,TX (Flash Mentoring for Managers)
18] Washington, DC (Diversity Council -ERG- Session for Global Non-Profit Leaders)

Let us know what you think and we’d love to learn from you too,

Warmest regards,

Julie Kantor

CEO

www.twomentor.com

Scheduling contact: Sophia@twomentor.com

Mentoring-in-a-Box Deliverables * Mentor & Mentee Training * Flash Mentoring * Dynamic Keynotes 
Overview Video: Click HERE Overview Information Deck: Click HERE Inclusion Mentoring Article: Click HERE

Want to See Women Thrive in the Global Workforce? Sponsor Them.

Written by Mackenzie Moore

Most of us have seen the stats out there about women in the workplace: women comprise 50% of the workforce but are underrepresented in top management and STEM fields. Historically, it was considered a pipeline issue: since women entered the workforce after men, they just needed more time to be recruited, educated, trained, and propelled to the top. In the late 1980s, the term ‘the glass ceiling’ was coined by Marilyn Loden. The glass ceiling describes how women are present in the workforce but are disproportionately represented in senior positions. Mentorship has long been recognized as one effective way of advancing women and minorities professionally. New research, just published in January of 2019 by the Center for Talent Innovation, shows that another form of support is also effective in recruiting and retaining a more diverse, hardworking and productive workforce. It is called sponsorship.

I was 18 years old and fresh out of high school when I was sponsored for the first time. I was four months into a six-month-long internship and was itching to move to the next level. I loved the work I was doing and felt challenged, motivated, and proud of myself. I was anxious that my internship was ending in two months and I wasn’t ready to leave work. But I was young, and the other full-time associates had all graduated from university already. I did not feel equipped and worried my request to be hired as an associate would be met with a hard “no”. One day, I worked up the courage to talk to Julie about it. She responded with warmth, positivity, and enthusiasm. Julie expressed wanting to work with me more and clearly outlined what I needed to improve in order to earn my position as an associate. Then, three months later, she walked into the CEOs office and told the CEO that she should hire me to be her associate of business development. I spent the next eight months working closely with Julie and even received another promotion to the managerial level. Julie believed in me, mentoring me on business, executive presence, sales, and so much more. She went beyond mentorship though and championed me for a job I likely could not have gotten without her recommendation. This is the value of sponsorship: it is the boost that the less obvious, but still very capable employees need to get themselves to the next levels in their careers. 

A sponsor is someone who champions their protégé for a job, promotion, stretch assignment, or other professional opportunities. It is not to be confused with mentorship, as mentors focus more on guiding, teaching, or preparing their proteges. The Harvard Business Review defines mentoring as “offering ‘psychosocial’ support for personal and professional development, plus career help that includes advice and coaching.” In comparison, sponsors advocate for their protégé’s advancement and take an active role in their career progression. The HBR notes that while the majority of people find mentorship to be more enjoyable than sponsorship, sponsors are critical for increasing diversity in the upper ranks of businesses. We need both mentors and sponsors: the mentors help us excel in our jobs and give us the knowledge and support to be ready for the next promotion, while the sponsors help us get the promotion and move to the next level in our careers.

Across the board, research has shown that sponsorship is a game changer for recruiting and retaining more women and people of color in the workforce. The Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) published The Sponsor Dividend (again…just last January!) and found that employees in large companies who have been sponsored are happier with their rates of advancement than non-sponsored employees—across both gender and race. For example, 68% of women with sponsors are pleased with their rate of advancement as opposed to 57% of women without sponsors, and 56% for sponsored people of color are happy as opposed to 34% without sponsors.

Not only are women with sponsors being championed behind closed doors more, but they also push themselves forward more than women without sponsors. Women who have sponsors are 27% more likely than those without sponsors to ask for a raise, and 22% more likely to ask for ‘stretch assignments’. The same study also found that 85% of mothers who are employed full-time continue working, whereas only 58% of mothers without a sponsor will continue to work (a 27% differential!).

By the way, sponsorship is not only good for the protégé; it is also good for the company as sponsored employees become more well-rounded individuals and are more prepared to be leaders. The same research by the CTI found that employees who are sponsored are more aware of their junior colleagues’ concerns, a trait which is important for high-performing managers. 41% of employees who have been sponsored will pick up a task they do not enjoy doing, as opposed to 26% of employees without sponsors. Furthermore, 43% of sponsored employees have expanded knowledge of their customer bases, as opposed to only 26% of non-sponsored employees.

This is the good news: sponsorship works! So, what is the bad news? Women and minorities are not sponsored enough. The CTI also found that 71% of sponsors are the same gender or race as their primary proteges. Given the lack of diversity in the upper levels of corporations and STEM fields, women and people of color are missing out on sponsorship opportunities.

Research from Catalyst (published in a report by Bentley University) found similar results, noting “Men’s ‘mentors’ are actually more senior, more influential, and have access to a wider network than women’s mentors. In other words, men’s ‘mentors’often really sponsor and that is the critical difference. When women have sponsors, women are just as likely as men to be promoted.”

Another report by Lean In and McKinsey found that in entry-level positions, women and men have relatively similar levels of interaction with senior leaders, but by the time employees reach the senior management level, men have significantly more interaction with senior leaders on a weekly basis than women (62% of men interact with senior leaders at least one time per week as opposed to 51% of women).

The finding that women have less access to mentorship and sponsorship from senior leaders is echoed across studies. Herminia Ibarra, Nancy Cater and Christine Silva published in the Harvard Business Review that women and men have access to very different kinds of mentorship. Men were mentored by a CEO or senior executive 9% more often than women were, and women were more frequently mentored by nonmanagers or first-level managers.

Moving forward, women need more access and connection with senior executives. The progress will come from both sides: it will come from senior executives reaching out to mid-level women and minorities, getting to know them, and championing them into higher positions. It will also come from women reaching out, embracing sponsorship and actively seeking out sponsoring relationships.

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Mackenzie Moore is a Senior Associate at Twomentor LLC. In 2018 we build a Mentor 2.0 Training (Mentorship + Sponsorship) for leaders to sponsor and mentor more diversely. Contact: info@twomentor.com or 1800 5 MENTOR

Why Mentors Hate Workplace Gossip

Words have no wings but they can fly a thousand miles. 
Korean Proverb
We’ve all been there at work. A perceived injustice, a mean look, a discourteous or catty remark. The confusion, then the anger sets in. The poison as The Four Agreement’s author Don Miguel Ruiz discusses so eloquently in his toltec wisdom guide has now been drunk… by you. Given to you potentially by an unwitting accomplice who started the day off wr . Hurt, you find someone to share your pain with. Someone who can validate your view…  

I’ve been there many times in my life. In fact, the other day I slammed on my brakes when a woman in a convertible sky blue Mercedes whisked passed me in the parking lot and I almost hit her. Her eyes met my eyes with a dark glare. We both were driving too fast, but once the red and orange rage left my eyes and I parked, I realized it was 100% my fault as I was not fully present. “Own it, Julie,” I said to myself. Take responsibility, apologize if you can, do not create a validating story of victimhood. Do not ruin this glorious day.

“Can you believe Scott got a 20% raise,” Lenny* said to his co-worker Tomas* He lost the XYZ company account and was golfing all summer. Lenny looks at Tom with concern. “You’ve been here three years longer and didn’t lose one of our biggest clients,” adds Lenny. “You should be pissed!”

Tomas agreed. He knew that Scott had actually saved two contracts, was golfing with customers, and had far exceeded anyone else in customer service evaluations. He knew that Scott was coming in early and staying in late, but he couldn’t help feeling a bit steamed every time Scott spoke at the 2:30 Business Development meeting. He also didn’t like how Scott spoke to his direct report. Tom reflected on his 5% raise, about the bills piling up at home and had a fleeting thought, should he apply for a new job? 

Tomas had accepted a shot of poison and observed Lenny sharing Scott’s news with four other people the next day at lunch.

Gossip is the antithesis of Mentoring…  Think about it, a mentor is invested in the self-actualization of another human being. A mentor gets stronger and better from lifting others up. Mentoring brings down silos, it decreases isolation, it saves lives when we have stronger connections with others (a hallmark of any 12-Step program- called a sponsor). It is paramount to wellbeing. Malicious gossip is a teardown play.

Scotts, Lennys, Tomas, Shanas, and Marias. They are in all of us. We perpetuate a LOSE/LOSE proposition that sucks the joy out of life because the more poison one drinks when addressing a resentment, the more that’s handed out in the form of gossip. We are all are worse for it (an exception being when we need to share information that has crossed a clear ethical line with HR or the individual is of danger to themselves and others), 

“I pray that she gets everything she wants or dreams of,” a friend shared in context to how she manages a resentment. “I no longer let her live rent-free in my head,” she added.

As Kennedy said in his 1963 speech “A rising tide lifts all ships,” We rise when we help others. Protect yourself and by all means, don’t drink what’s in that shot glass even if someone you know well hands it to you.

Here are 35 valuable quotes on gossip to reflect on its role in your life.

Twomentor LLC – We Build Corporate Mentoring Initiatives
Contact Us at 1-833-5 MENTOR or info@twomentor.com