Sponsors Need to Stop Acting Like Mentors

by Julia Taylor Kennedy and Pooja Jain-Link

Sponsorship, or advocacy by senior leaders of rising talent, is a hot topic within corporate America. Deloitte’s board chair, Mike Fucci, talks about it openly; Cisco has run a sponsorship pledge campaign called the “Multiplier Effect”; dozens of other companies have implemented sponsorship programs; and many (if not most) diversity and inclusion practitioners cite sponsorship as a key intervention to diversify top leadership.

But something is keeping sponsorship from working. In our research at Coqual (formerly the Center for Talent Innovation), we found that sponsors themselves don’t really understand the role and how to do it well.1 This insight came ...

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