We might romanticise successful people as lone visionaries who, through sheer hard work and sparks of genius, navigated this cutthroat world to come out on top.
The truth is that few have achieved success alone; at some point, professors, colleagues, advisers and managers have had a significant impact on their career journeys. These diverse external influences can be extremely valuable in helping to steer an employee’s career trajectory towards greater heights.
Similarly, sponsorship is one proven way of helping employees achieve the breakthroughs they need to further their skills and careers within an organisation.
Sponsorship: What’s it all about?
Sponsors are active advocates who create opportunities for employees that would otherwise be inaccessible. These people will help them navigate their career advancement differently.
Instead of simply advising and supporting them, they will prime them for promotion within their organisation by delegating them “stretch assignments” — challenging tests designed to expand their skill sets — to help them grow strategically in their roles. They might also nominate them for important projects and contracts.
A sponsor’s ability to provide visibility and nurture talent means they are valuable allies in an employee’s quest for career advancement.
Those who have a sponsor are paid 11.6% more than those who do not, according to findings from PayScale Inc. Since remuneration is one of the biggest drivers for retention, sponsors can help you keep your best staff.
An organisation can benefit immensely from a successful sponsorship program as well. Identifying high-potential staff who are suited to be leaders can help improve retention and organisational productivity, which in turn boosts profits — not to mention employer branding and attractiveness to prospective hires.
Sponsorships to promote gender equality
Sponsorships are also key to alleviating the gender-equality crisis faced by many professions today, where women are more likely to be overlooked for career advancement than men. The financial consequence of this bias — whether conscious or not — can be significant.
According to a report entitled The Pipeline’s Women Count 2020, companies with no women on their executive committees have a net profit margin of 1.5%, whereas those with more than 33% of women at this level reached an impressive 15.2% net profit margin.
Companies that use sponsorships to propel women into leadership positions have also achieved even greater gender diversity at senior levels. In the FTSE 350, companies led by women have an average male/female ratio of 2:1 on their executive committees, as opposed to an average of 4:1 for companies led by men.
A more diversified and gender-equal workplace has proven to be a major part of employer branding, and an attractive quality that today’s in-demand talent will take into consideration.
Effectively engaging, developing, and retaining employees will help position companies more competitively in the industry. This image boost can make all the difference between attracting substandard candidates and stellar talent who will contribute significantly to business success and push the organisation further up the profitability ladder.
This article is contributed by Michael Page.