Mentorship and sponsorship can play crucial roles in empowering women in the workplace. They are distinct but complementary forms of support that help women overcome barriers, advance their careers and achieve professional goals.

The combined impact of mentorship and sponsorship is particularly potent in empowering women leaders. Female business mentors provide the guidance needed to excel in leadership roles, while sponsors create pathways for career advancement and advocate for women’s success within organisations.

The importance of female business mentors

Female business mentors show women that leadership positions are attainable. Bringing unique perspectives to the table, they are essential for inspiring new generations of career-minded women and addressing the gender gap in career development. 

Here’s the importance of connecting women with female business mentors:

  • Role modelling: Female mentors serve as role models, sharing valuable guidance and experiences that resonate with women.
  • Skill development: Mentorship provides women with opportunities to learn and develop new skills, like leadership capabilities and industry-specific knowledge.
  • Career guidance: Female mentors help women set career goals and create a roadmap for their professional development so that they make informed decisions.
  • Confidence building: Female business mentors who have successfully broken barriers boost women’s confidence, encouraging them to embrace new challenges.
  • Networking: Mentors introduce mentees to valuable industry contacts, helping women expand their professional networks.
  • Work-life balance: Female business mentors provide guidance on achieving work-life balance, which is especially important for women facing the unique challenges of balancing career and family responsibilities.

Real-world effects of mentorship for women

The impact of mentoring women for leadership is shown in this case study. It focuses on the teaching sector, where male teachers are twice as likely to be promoted to a leadership role, despite teaching being a female-dominated profession. 

To see the effects mentorship has on the professional and personal lives of women, female teachers were paired with female business mentors. Of the nearly one hundred women who have taken part in this mentorship programme to date, 50% have achieved promotion and many more have spoken to the positive impacts of mentorship.

One of the participants had this to say:

“My school gave me lots of opportunities which were a testament to my own abilities and progression, but I was not always able to articulate my strategic abilities with ease. I put this down to being too modest.

“My mentor made me aware of myself as a leader, and also reaffirmed my strengths as an educator – I had skills, traits and abilities that any school would want. I had to become more astute at understanding how to compartmentalise these traits to target my skills directly to specific roles.”

The importance of sponsorship 

While mentorship focuses on personal and professional development, sponsorship involves advocating for women’s career advancement. Usually an established leader, a sponsor has a seat at the proverbial table. Unlike mentors, they play an active role in the career of their sponsee and use their influence to lobby for the women they are sponsoring.

Here’s the importance of offering sponsorship programmes to women:

  • Advancement opportunities: Sponsors advocate for a woman’s career advancement within the organisation. They provide visibility and support by recommending women for high-impact projects and promotions.
  • Breaking glass ceilings: Sponsors break down gender barriers by actively supporting women for positions that have traditionally been dominated by men.
  • Performance recognition: Sponsors have the power to ensure that a woman’s contributions are recognised and rewarded. This is important when you consider that 37% of women leaders had a coworker take credit for their idea.
  • Access to resources: Sponsors provide access to resources, such as training, funding and development opportunities, all of which have been severely lacking for women in the workplace and are essential for career growth.
  • Accountability: Sponsors hold themselves accountable for the success of their protégés. This motivates sponsors to advance the careers of the women they support.

Effects of sponsorships on promoting gender equality

It’s not news that men get a running start in the professional world. Even with mentoring, women are constantly struggling to catch up. This is where the power of sponsorships shines. 

One case study examined the results of two companies’ sponsorship initiatives and how they helped advance women into top-level positions. The success of these women is contributed to the following factors:

  • The sponsors’ ongoing commitment to encourage and build confidence
  • The sponsors’ continued advocacy for the sponsee within the company structure
  • The sponsees’ dedication to expand their experience and skills

Another case study followed a female sponsorship programme, where six mid-career women were paired with a sponsor at executive level for eight months. The results speak for themselves: over half the women who participated have since been promoted to senior leadership roles.

Helping you reach your full potential

The importance of female role models can’t be overstated. Programmes that connect experienced female professionals with aspiring women in business have a transformative impact on gender diversity, equality and overall business performance for the organisation.

Together, mentorships and sponsorships create a more equitable workplace where women can thrive and contribute to their fullest potential. 

At City CV, our mission is to help you take charge of your career. Whether you’re an individual looking to transform your career or an organisation wanting to bring more opportunities to your staff, we have the resources and coaches you need. Contact us today to find out more.