Sponsor Effect: Canada
bci, in partnership with the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), has released a new research report that examines experiences with sponsorship in Canadian workplaces. The first research of its kind in Canada, Sponsor Effect: Canada1 explores the challenges faced by people of colour, Indigenous peoples, and women (including the intersections between these cultural identities) in attracting advocacy, and offers recommendations for leaders who wish to create cultures of inclusive sponsorship within their organizations.
What is sponsorship?
For years now CTI has spearheaded research on sponsorship globally. According to this research, sponsorship is a powerful relationship that occurs when a senior colleague, or “sponsor” does a minimum of three things for their “protégé”: goes out on a limb for them, advocates for their next promotion, and provides air cover when they make a mistake.2 This represents a higher bar of advocacy and support than does mentorship. Further, the support provided by sponsorship has been identified by CTI as a key tool for advancing the careers of people of colour and women. But our report finds that in Canada sponsorship is rare across the board, and that there is a strong need to leverage sponsorship more effectively in order to increase diversity and inclusion in our leadership ranks.
Key Findings of Our Study3
- Sponsorship is incredibly rare in Canada, especially compared to what CTI has seen in the US and UK
- Very few Canadian people of colour, Indigenous peoples, and women (and the intersections between these identities) have sponsors, despite being highly ambitious and willing to “go the extra mile” at work
- There is a sharp divide in the kinds of support white people, people of colour, and Indigenous peoples receive from senior colleagues:
- For white people, senior leaders are more likely to provide advocacy
- For people of colour and Indigenous peoples, senior colleagues are far more likely to give nurturing advice that focuses on how they can “fix” the way they are perceived, in areas like appearance and grooming, how to behave, and how to inspire others
- The majority of those in senior positions—white men—who self-identify as sponsors tend to sponsor people like themselves
- Many think leadership attributes are defined by white male standards, and people of colour and Indigenous peoples are more likely than white people to hold this perception
- Because of this common perception, people of colour, Indigenous peoples and women may not be seen as potential leaders, so sponsorship may not be offered to them
Why read the report?
Sponsor Effect: Canada provides data about the experiences of sponsorship in Canadian workplaces, including the barriers experienced by diverse and women professionals. But more importantly, it clearly outlines best practices and recommendations that senior leaders, potential protégés, human resource professionals, and diversity and inclusion professionals can employ to build cultures of advocacy and sponsorship within their organizations.
bci’s Inclusive Advocacy and Sponsorship Programming
bci provides targeted programming for key audiences (senior leaders, protégés, human resource professionals, and diversity and inclusion professionals) on supporting diverse and women professionals through concrete, actionable strategies for inclusive advocacy and sponsorship.
To learn more about our programming, contact Alyse Runyan at firstname.lastname@example.org or download our Inclusive Advocacy and Sponsorship Programming Guide here.