Sponsorship of Women Leaders Working Group | Hosted by McKesson | September 20, 2017 |San Francisco, CA

Wednesday | September 20, 2017

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LOCATION:  McKesson | 1 Post Street | San Francisco, CA  94104

Download the Working Group Notes

If your company is like most other large companies, it has probably been working hard to increase diversity in senior management for years. Although you may have had some success, you may also be looking for new solutions that can speed your progress. In recent years, companies have turned to sponsorship programs as a possible solution, and there is some emerging evidence about the potential effectiveness of these programs.  Research from the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), for example, shows that women who have sponsors make more requests for high-visibility projects, feel they are progressing in their careers, and are more likely to continue working after having children.  Additionally, a number of female executives have publicly attributed their success to opportunities created by their sponsors. Despite the critical role that sponsors could play in helping to counteract the negative effect of unconscious bias in promotion decisions for leadership positions, scholarly research evidence on the topic is lacking. Given this, it is not surprising that many companies continue to have questions about sponsorship.

Some of the topics we plan to cover include in this session include:
  • Sponsors versus mentors: How are you distinguishing between mentors and sponsors?  (Advocacy?  Taking risks?  Accountability for outcomes?)
  • Formal versus informal sponsorship: What have been your experiences with formal versus informal sponsorship?  Is a formal program necessary for ensuring that all high-potential protégés receive sponsorship?  Are formally assigned sponsors equally effective as informal ones?  If you use formal sponsorship, how do you identify potential sponsors and protégés, and what factors do you consider in the matching process?
  • Program design: What strategies have been particularly effective, and how do you know? What are some of the unanticipated challenges that you have faced? If executives are assigned as sponsors to high-potential protégés, what are the expectations for what they will do as sponsors? What mechanisms are in place to optimize the effectiveness of sponsorship relationships?

The ideal attendees at this meeting would be HR leaders with responsibility for Diversity & Inclusion and/or Talent Management.  In preparation for the meeting, please reflect on the questions above, and also bring other questions that you may have and want to explore with the group.

This working group will run from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM with a continental breakfast and working lunch.  The session is free of charge to CAHRS partner firms, but participation is limited to no more than twenty-five

If there are other specific issues you would like to discuss, please send them prior to the session to Lisa Nishii or Jo Hagin.  We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.

Cornell Discussion Leader:

Lisa Nishii, is Associate Professor of Human Resources Studies and Chair of ILR International Programs at the ILR School, Cornell University.

Hotel Recommendations:
Galleria Park Hotel
Palace Hotel

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