Organizational communities play a crucial role in fostering talent and cultivating employee potential. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through mentorship and sponsorship programs. These relationships not only improve the representation of women and racial/ethnic minority groups in management and leadership positions but also contribute to employees’ career development and overall success.

Mentorship vs. Sponsorship: Understanding the Difference

While both mentors and sponsors are essential for employee growth, they serve different purposes. Mentors share knowledge and provide guidance, helping employees navigate their career paths. Sponsors, on the other hand, actively promote growth by providing access to opportunities and advocating for their protégés. However, despite their importance, only 40% of employees report having a mentor in the workplace, and rates are even lower for sponsorship at 23%.

Enhancing Career Development and Employee Satisfaction

Employees with mentors or sponsors are more likely to strongly agree that their organization provides a clear plan for their career development. These relationships help employees chart a path to their future and ensure they are equipped to reach their goals. Formal mentoring and sponsoring relationships established through organizational programs have a greater impact than informal relationships, making it essential for companies to invest in structured mentorship programs.

Mentorship as a Protective Factor for Women in the Workplace

March is Women’s History Month, a time to reflect on progress in the workplace for women. Mentorship is an essential protective factor for women at work, with numerous benefits. A staggering 87% of mentees and mentors feel empowered by the relationship and more confident in the workplace. However, there are discrepancies in how many women are gaining access to mentorship. About 63% of women have never had a mentor, even though 56% of organizations have a formal mentorship program.

Real-Life Examples of the Power of Mentorship

Women leaders at TD Bank have seen the power of mentorship firsthand. Amber Lutz, Senior Corporate Communications Manager, Executive Communications, credits her mentor with helping her stay committed to her goals. Kajule Sutton, Senior Business Architect, Change Office Enablement, has had the same mentor for 20 years and gives back by mentoring others. Mentorship creates a two-way, mutually beneficial relationship that contributes to personal and professional growth.

Informal Mentorship Opportunities and Community Impact

Tawanna Myers, a talent management and HR operations professional with over 18 years of experience, believes in the power of mentorship and spreading it throughout the community. Myers creates informal mentorship opportunities while grocery shopping, demonstrating that mentorship can extend beyond the workplace and into everyday life, positively impacting the community as a whole.

Big Brothers Big Sisters: A Case Study in Mentorship and JEDI Principles

Big Brothers Big Sisters, an organization focused on the full employee lifecycle, has developed and formalized people practices, enhanced communication, and taken a new look at benefits. Their people strategy incorporates JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) principles and balances virtual and in-person opportunities for staff meetings and events. By prioritizing mentorship and JEDI principles, the organization has created a supportive and inclusive environment for employees to thrive.