For women to continue to advance on the path to parity in corporate culture, supporting each other is key. False narratives and deficit framing are always out there, but as Paradigm for Parity CEO Sandra Quince puts it, “There’s room for all of us in this space.” This has to be a mantra. Equity means limitless opportunity for everyone — based not on appearances or assumptions but on true character and presence, and on real contribution and performance. We should be lifting each other up. Together we are the tide that raises all boats.
One of the most direct and impactful ways women can create mutuality of support is through sponsorship. Sponsorship is an important part of Paradigm for Parity’s 5-Point Action Plan: to identify women of potential and give them sponsors, as well as mentors.
The impact of sponsorship and representation
Research from CoQual found that 71% of sponsors are the same race or gender as their protégés. What is the impact of that? The 2022 Women in the Workplace report found that although 33% of entry-level positions are occupied by White men, by the time they get to the C-suite, that number has almost doubled to 61%. Seramount research reported that 78% of corporate leaders tap their inner professional networks to fill vacant roles, networks that do not include a single person of color for 91% of White executives.
For women, particularly women of color, to advance into senior leadership, sponsorship by White males can be key. This is underscored by research by PayScale which found that employees who have a White male sponsor end up with higher pay. Black women with a Black sponsor made 11.3% less than Black women with a White sponsor, and Hispanic women with a Hispanic sponsor made 15.5% less than Hispanic women with a White sponsor.
Sponsorship delivers tremendous impact at the level of corporate performance and culture, but it’s also powerful for individuals on their career path — including Paradigm for Parity’s own CEO, Sandra Quince. When Sandra first entered the corporate workforce, she thought she’d be rewarded and promoted on merit. Instead, she was consistently passed over by mostly white and male peers. Hard work and high performance weren’t enough.
“I knew that I was better than some talent getting promoted,” Sandra recalled. “But I wasn’t getting the same opportunities. I didn’t fully understand the power of sponsorship.”
She needed a champion — and she was lucky enough to find one as she entered the mid-career stage of her professional journey, a former banking executive who believed in her and “changed the way I saw myself and what I needed to do,” Sandra said. Her sponsor helped empower her to tap more deeply into her confidence and her leadership qualities — qualities that had always been there. She just needed to be supported in letting them shine.
The Center for Action: Collaborative Impact
When Paradigm for Parity developed the Center for Action, a resource hub to help companies put our 5-Point Action Plan to work, we made it a priority to partner with an organization committed to sponsorship. And we couldn’t have found a more perfect fit than Linkage.
Linkage, a SHRM company, drives inclusive change within organizations through a comprehensive, expert-led sponsorship initiative. Linkage provides executives with the skills and mindset to sponsor underrepresented leaders to enhance the leadership pipeline. Linkage serves up a variety of ways to engage, educate and empower executive sponsors and sponsored leaders, including a success guide, consultant-led sessions, coaching engagements and support for internal program managers.
With its commitment to sponsoring and lifting up underrepresented leaders, Linkage is also a powerful contributor to two other elements of Paradigm for Parity’s Five-Point Action Plan. By ensuring that diverse leaders are truly operating at the peak of their profession, becoming the best they can be in their fields, Linkage can help companies base career progress on business results and performance, not on presence. And when that happens, it leads to a significant increase in the number of women in senior operational roles.
Kristen Howe, Chief Product Officer of Linkage, shared:
“Linkage’s partnership with Paradigm for Parity is critical to spreading the impact that sponsorship programs have within organizations to advance women leaders. Linkage aims to change the face of leadership — literally, by getting more women and other underrepresented populations into leadership, and figuratively, by helping all leaders become more purposeful inclusive leaders. Our partnership will help accelerate that mission.”
About the Center for Action
The Center for Action is Paradigm for Parity’s new resource hub for companies to accelerate their progress on the 5-Point Action Plan to advance women across all levels of business leadership. The Center for Action is a one-stop location that joins Paradigm for Parity together with four curated launch partners who share and pursue essential goals and strategies in corporate culture: strong Diversity, Equity & Inclusion programs and practices, gender parity, and equitable leadership development and support. (If your company isn’t a coalition member, click here to find out how you can become one!)
The Center for Action brings relevant, powerful new partnerships to extend and support Paradigm for Parity’s Five-Point Action Plan:
- Minimize or eliminate unconscious bias
- Significantly increase the number of women in senior operational roles
- Measure targets at every level and communicate progress and results regularly
- Base career progress on business results and performance, not presence
- Identify women of potential and give them sponsors, as well as mentors
Through the Center for Action, coalition members of Paradigm for Parity will have access to unique opportunities or cost savings with a powerful consortium of partners. Launch partners include LiveGirl, TONE Networks, AceUp, Linkage, an SHRM company. Additional, highly curated and vetted partners will be added to speed and sustain progress to parity for Coalition members.
For more information about the Center for Action visit https://paradigm4parity.org/center-for-action/