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Developing a Sponsorship and Mentoring Program

Sponsorship and mentoring programs in companies can lead to structured, personalized learning that often resonates with participants.


Developing a Sponsorship and Mentoring Program

Understanding the purpose of such programs as well as how to measure progress, clarify roles and decide on criteria for involvement can lead to more success with implementation. Liz Dimmock, founder & CEO of Moving Ahead/Women Ahead, describes the key steps to take when putting mentorship and sponsorship programs into action.

LIZ DIMMOCK: Moving ahead, we passionately believe in the power of one-to-one relationships to create and drive change. And actually, in what is quite a hyperconnected, digitally connected world, we're often quite disconnected as individuals. So mentoring and sponsorship is a really powerful way for individuals to really consider who they want to become and how they want to get there.

It's just-in-time learning. It's personal. It's structured. There's a formality to it. And we know that women, in particular, respond well to that structured, personal learning that is about them, where they are and where they want to get to, and how they overcome those hurdles along the way.

When thinking about how to implement a best-in-class sponsorship or mentoring program, it's really important to think of some key steps to get there. So first of all, it's about the purpose of that program. That might sound obvious. It might be around the advancement of women in a role. But actually, what do we mean by that? Is that promotion? Is that about networks? What is the purpose of that? So that's really key. And then we can measure against that. So the second step is around measurement criteria and measurement and monitoring.

It's also really key to equip and support and develop the sponsor, the sponsee, the mentor, the mentee around their role, and what that is and isn't. So they're not there to solve a spectrum of issues, so it's being really clear on roles.

Another part of that is also around how people step forward to be on the program. So whether that is by choice, by nomination, by a tap on the shoulder, it's really important to consider are people willingly becoming a mentor, mentee, sponsor, sponsee on that. So what is the criteria or process by which that you're going to step people into the program?

We'd also encourage you to think about the matching of the mentors and sponsors and their counterparts. It's really important to think beyond the obvious groups, the obvious high potentials or the obvious advocates of change in your sponsorship group. So really think about that, and think beyond the norm.

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