According to research conducted by global nonprofit Catalyst, women comprise almost half of North America’s workforce, yet hold less than one-third of all senior management positions and fewer than 5 percent of CEO positions. Yet, as discovered by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity outperformed by 21 percent in EBIT (earnings before interest and tax).
A confusing disparity to say the least.
“Creating #GoSponsorHer was not about disrupting a meritocracy, but confronting unconscious bias so that men and women have equal opportunities to prove themselves,” says Laura McGee, co-sponsor of the ceiling-shattering social media campaign.
McGee, along with her colleague Megan Anderson and in collaboration with global management consulting firm Deloitte and the aforementioned McKinsey and Catalyst, launched #GoSponsorHer on Twitter, 17 January 2017, and have been raising awareness about workplace gender disparity ever since.
The campaign highlights the critical differences between mentoring and sponsorship, urging leaders to go beyond offering advice and support to women about their careers and instead, embracing sponsorship, which requires a more active effort to encourage advancement.
“I see mentors as teachers or coaches,” explains YPO member Debby Carreau who together with fellow member Sunir Chandaria has activated YPO’s Canada Region for #GoSponsorHer. “A sponsor on the other hand, is more of an advocate; someone willing to put their reputation on the line by opening up their network and recommending their sponsoree.”
For Chandaria, supporting the initiative was a no-brainer.
“The single most important factor for business leaders — men and women alike — is having a sponsor championing their professional journey,” he says. “If YPO leaders today can identify high talent women, sponsor their journey, and activate behind them, five to 10 years from now, there will be a much richer number of qualified women leaders breaking through the glass ceiling, meaningfully improving corporate performance.”
Participation couldn’t be simpler and all YPO members and business leaders can participate:
- Find someone to sponsor
- Meet for lunch, coffee, a walk in the park …
- Snap a pic and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Challenge two-three of your peers to do the same
“It’s important for prospective sponsors to know this doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment,” says Carreau. “It can be as simple as making a couple of phone calls or facilitating an introduction — little things that can be life changing for someone looking to grow their career or get a business off the ground.”
“This is one activation YPO members can easily get behind and support,” says Chandaria. “As a network of leaders committed to growing their businesses and attracting and leveraging top talent, actively supporting women is not only good for business, it’s also the right thing to do. Many YPO members and other business leaders likely have a daughter — chances are they want the same opportunities for professional success afforded to them as to anyone else of comparable potential and ambition.”
“Most people agree that women shouldn’t be denied opportunities because of their gender,” adds McGee. “Having female family members can bring this into sharp repute; it’s natural to want your female family members to have the same chances to succeed as everyone else.”