On 8 April 2019, CMI and the Financial Research Council (FRC) launched an initiative to encourage more sponsorship of women in the Finance industry. Sponsorship is one of the tools being used by best practice organisations to address the under representation of women and minority groups in senior positions.
In our first blog last month, we looked at the difference between mentoring, coaching and sponsorship. This blog explores some of the ways to secure a sponsor.
Simply put, a leadership sponsor is someone who knows what you aspire to, who believes in you and is in a position to spot potential opportunities to help you achieve your goal. Most importantly they advocate for you when you are not in the room.
Where do I start?
So how do you secure a sponsor? Some organisations have sponsorship programmes to improve inclusion of underrepresented groups at senior levels. These programmes may match male and female senior leaders with aspiring leaders from underrepresented groups, or some schemes like the one at Sky invite everyone from an underrepresented group to be part of the programme.
Ask your organisation if they have a formal scheme and consider offering to set one up if they don’t. CMI Women Blueprint for Change contains examples and case studies of such schemes.
To be effective your sponsor needs to be ideally a couple of levels higher in the organisation than you are, and in a position where they hear about positions coming vacant, stretch assignments and invitation only development programmes. They need the relationships and credibility to influence the people you ultimately want to work for or with.
If your organisation has no formal scheme and shows little interest in improving the status quo, consider using voluntary work to further your career goals. There are many voluntary leadership opportunities in Public sector and the charitable sector where you can gain valuable experience and along the way gain sponsors who are often well connected into other organisations.
Demonstrate your skills and leadership commitment by taking on that project that one one else wants, providing thoughtful insights on important projects, and find out how you can help your sponsor be successful.
In the next article we will look at how to get the best from a sponsor-sponsee relationship.
You may need to login as a CMI member to access some of the resources below.
- CMI Management Direct case study: How Sky Does Diversity
- CMI Research – Sponsoring Women to Success
- CMI Women – Women In Finance Sponsoring & Mentoring Series
- CMI Women initiative
- CMI Blueprint for Balance resources to support Mentoring and Sponsorship
CMI Southern Lead for Inclusion