Why Sponsoring rather than Mentoring Women is the Key to Career Advancement

Karen Jones, in her new column in the October issue of Canary Wharf magazine, advocates women's sponsorship rather than mentorship.

What is the difference?

She argues that  while mentors simply advise, sponsors act. Sponsors will often be picked for their business achievements and deliver by making employees under their charge visible to leaders within the company and to top people outside.  Sponsors connect people to career opportunities and provide cover when they encounter internal trouble. When it comes to opening doors, sponsors don't stop with one promotion, they see through the threshold of power. Successful sponsorship programmes will usually have a performance timeline very much like annual HR initiatives or departmental goals.

On the other hand mounting evidence suggests that mentoring programmes help women by stopping them feeling isolated in business, but fail to help women get promoted. This is because mentors are often picked for their caring and people skills rather than business successes. This means women may be coached by the wrong type of person if career development is the key driver.