Sponsorship: Mentorship's More Powerful "Cousin"
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August 2013
Hello Friends,

I hope you are having a vibrant summer!

Last Friday Vibrant Pittsburgh and Allegheny County held our first Global Diversity Festival at South Park Amphitheatre. The festival celebrates the “vibrancy” and diversity of the Pittsburgh region through music, food and entertainment. We had a great turnout. Vendors from an array of backgrounds showcased their work and crafts. Adriana Dobrzcyka, Vibrant Pittsburgh’s Community Outreach and Inclusion Manager, greeted people from across the region. The crowd networked, made connections, enjoyed good food and music and danced the night away. Thank you to everyone who came out and made a connection with a new person and celebrated diversity. We look forward to continuing to host our Global Diversity Festival as an annual event.

Next week we will be hosting a new Inclusion Best Practices Series event. The Inclusion Best Practices Series brings together businesses of all sizes to discuss best-in-class diversity and inclusion practices, enabling employers to share and learn from one another.  Join us on August 20th as we welcome Anthony Carter, Chief Diversity Officer at Johnson & Johnson Corporation, who will speak about maximizing diversity and inclusion ROI through your diversity talent strategy.

This month’s feature story is on the topic of mentoring and sponsorship. This topic is valuable for both new and seasoned employees. Send your personal story about mentoring or sponsorship as part of our Small Acts of Inclusion.  Each month in our newsletter we focus on a particular diversity and inclusion topic and offer tips and best practices to help employees at all levels. If there is a topic you are interested in and would like featured, please let us know.

At Vibrant Pittsburgh we are hard at work planning some innovative and exciting activities for the fall and winter, please stay tuned for announcements about these upcoming events.

MelanieHarrington 2
Melanie Harrington
CEO, Vibrant Pittsburgh

Sponsorship: Mentorship's More Powerful "Cousin"

Mentor vs SponsorSome of you may have served as a mentor to a newer employee, offering advice and support based on your experiences in a similar field or industry.  Others may have had the benefit of being mentored by a more experienced colleague who was able to help you work through your issues by act as a sounding board and pointing you in the right direction.

A mentor by definition is a tutor, coach, counselor and or guide.  There have been many studies that show that mentorship is a very valuable tool to help all employees and especially historically underrepresented groups navigate organizational culture and be more successful. Mentoring relationships can be beneficial for both the mentor and the mentee. The mentor is providing a valuable service but also may learn from the mentee. Research shows that employees who are mentored are more productive, engaged and are more likely to stay with the company.

However a mentor’s role usually stops short of advocating or lobbying for an employee’s advancement. A sponsor, on the other hand, is someone in a “power” position who is a champion often unbeknown to the employee. A sponsor has usually had positive experiences with the individual where there has been a mutually beneficial outcome. The employee has demonstrated extraordinary performance that benefited the company and in particular the sponsor.  As a result, the sponsor now believes in and trusts the individual and is willing to speak up on his/her behalf.

The differences between sponsors and mentors are highlighted below.

Sponsor   Mentor
Advocate Sponsor's "weaker cousin"
Goes to bat for you Sounding board
"Powerfully positioned" champion Provides guidance
"Leans in" with and for you Mentorship more often one-way, sponsorship is reciprocal
Trusts and believes in you  
"Got your back"     

A sponsorship relationship is often informal versus the more formal mentoring programs that many companies have developed. Sometimes, sponsors are not even aware that what they are doing is “sponsoring” and employees are unlikely aware that they are being sponsored.

The most recent research shows that while mentors are useful, sponsors are actually the key to advancing women, minorities and other historically underrepresented groups. However, it is less likely that these groups will have sponsors.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett, CEO of Center for Talent Innovation, conducted a two-year study, which sampled 12,000 men and women in white-collar occupations across the United States and Britain. The study showed that sponsorship and not mentorship, made a measurable difference in career progress.

It is more complex for multicultural talent to secure a sponsor because it is still true that those most likely to be powerfully positioned are white men. White men may unconsciously not see employees from different ethnic and racial backgrounds as “sponsorable”.  It is easier to sponsor someone who looks more like you. Therefore their first inclination might be to sponsor other white men, especially acknowledging that they may not even consider their supportive behavior as “sponsorship”.
Now that we have a clearer delineation between mentoring and sponsoring, we encourage leaders to think about who they may be “unconsciously” sponsoring and make sure that you are not excluding deserving employees from historically underrepresented groups. We also encourage those who want to be sponsored to conduct a serious self-assessment to determine if you are ready for a sponsor. Such an assessment should include what you have accomplished over a period of time, who in leadership positions are aware of your accomplishments and how you can better position yourself to secure a sponsor.

Do you have a personal story about mentoring or sponsorship? If so, submit it for our Small Acts of Inclusion.

Diversity and Inclusion Resources

Events Around The Region
(For more events, visit our website or follow us on facebook)

  • Working with Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc., Vibrant Pittsburgh is launching the third year of our NEW ARRIVALS BRIDGE program.  This program provides an accelerated introduction to the region’s unique history and culture, fosters networks and bonds among the new arrival cohort and facilitates connections to the region’s diverse array of leadership. Applicants may apply online.
  • On August 19th at 8:00am-9:00am WIB is hosting an in-person Orientation to QuickTrainforJobs.com, that provides organizations with an overview of the tool, its functions, and how it can be most useful to you and job seekers you serve. For more information contact cshields@trwib.org.
  • Vibrant Pittsburgh is introducing a new Inclusion Best Practices Series on August 20th at 7:30am-9:30am!  Join your fellow Pittsburgh Region employers in welcoming Anthony Carter, Chief Diversity Officer at Johnson & Johnson Corporation, who will speak about maximizing diversity and inclusion ROI through your diversity talent strategy. For more information and to register, click here.
  • Duquesne University will host it's August Leadership Breakfast Series on August 20th at Duquesne University Power Center Ballroom West, from 8:00am-10:00am. Deborah Holland will present on Navigating the Toxic Workplace. For more information visit here.
  • On August 24th CLASSIC EVENTS! will host the 2nd Annual YOUTHPRENEUR Business Networking Mixer. This event will focus on developing our "next generation" of talented entrepreneurs and business leaders that will have a profound effect on the overall quality of life within our region. This community event is free to the public beginning at 11:00 am will be held at Hosanna House. Parents of interested YOUTHPRENUR contact via e-mail: yourclassicevent@gmail.com.
  • National Talk Show Host Bev Smith is hosting a four day conference, "A Challenge to African American Women" in Pittsburgh on August 28th-31st. The purpose of this event is to challenge all black women to unite, become empowered, and focus on health, education, employment, and spirituality to make a difference and change direction in these challenging times. For more information and to register click here.
  • Duquesne University will host it's September Leadership Breakfast Series on September 10th at Duquesne University Power Center Ballroom West, from 8:00am-10:00am. Julie Ann Sullivan will present on How Leaders Can Inspire Others to Be Happier at Work. For more information visit here.

  • The 3rd Annual Energy and Innovation Conference will be held on September 17th at the Hilton Garden Inn, Southpointe in Cannonsburgh, PA.  For more information and to register, click here.
  • The 2013 Multicultural Health Marketing National Conference will take place October 17-18th in Washington, DC. For more information and to register click here.
  • The English Language Institute (ELI) at the University of Pittsburgh offers non-credit English as a second language community education courses for internationals in the Pittsburgh community and at the University of Pittsburgh. A variety of courses are available Summer, Fall and Spring. For more information, visit the website.
Vibrant Pittsburgh
425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 2880 | Pittsburgh, PA 15216

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