Mentors vs. Sponsors: How Both Can Help You Level Up Your Career

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Sponsorship and mentoring are both so important for professional advancement. By encouraging mentorship programmes, employees feel valued. Many corporations have pledged to increase Black leadership representation in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. According to one study, only 17 of the country’s 1,099 most powerful positions are held by Black men and women. 

At the same time, it’s true that Black representation matters; it’s also essential to know that there are support systems and mentorship programmes to guide these professionals. The absence of representation and mentorship can impede the growth of those who are successful in breaking into elite industries with a predominance of white people. Do Black employees have the necessary support to level up their careers? 

Although they make up roughly 3% of the population of England and Wales, Black people only make up 1.5% of senior management positions in the private sector. The lack of top Black leaders often stems from companies doing little to help talented junior Black employees thrive. At the start of their careers, these professionals face numerous challenges and, thus, need the right mentor and sponsor. 

Mentors vs. sponsors – How different are they?

Sponsorship and mentoring are crucial. However, the inability to distinguish between the two makes it more likely that managers will think they are supporting their staff in all possible ways when they only provide one type of support. Whereas mentorship focuses on assistance that a mentor can directly provide, such as guidance, advice, skill feedback, and coaching, sponsorship entails externally facing aid, such as advocacy, visibility, promotion, and connections.

Black professionals who have just started new roles frequently lack exposure, which can impede their advancement chances. Sponsorship and mentoring, however, can support this. Workplace mentoring programmes are critical for the overall experience of Black and minority employees. They promote workplace diversity, a safe place to learn and grow, a sense of community, and increased productivity by developing shared knowledge and skills. 

By encouraging mentorship programmes, employees feel valued. A workplace mentoring programme is a great way to invest in your employees’ unrealised potential while ensuring they feel heard and motivated. In addition, mentorship and sponsorship help retain employees by preventing them from feeling their potential is wasted. They enhance everyone’s perspectives while increasing engagement, confidence, well-being, skill development and networking.

Leveraging your professional relationship

It can be challenging to navigate your professional connections at work, particularly given how quickly the workplace evolves. Both sponsorship and mentorship are built on relationships; you can’t have one without the other. Your success in the office is largely dependent on building strong and positive relationships. Having strong connections with your mentor and sponsor can have a significant impact on your professional development. These relationships are built on trust.

Mentoring and internship programmes give practical methods to assist Black adolescents and entrepreneurs in developing their talents and finding jobs. At the same time, there are few indicators of rising Black participation in British boardrooms.

As an employer, you must invest in these programmes as they go a long way toward promoting diversity and inclusion. Whether through sponsorship or mentorship, leveraging positive relationships in the workplace can really help you to level up your career. 

Get involved

Get in touch with us to discover how to become a mentor in BYP’s established mentoring programme. Or, if you’re a Black professional yourself, apply now for a mentor.

If you’re looking to widen your network of strong and positive relationships that can boost you in your career, you can also attend our New Year New Network event on 19 January 2023.  The dynamic evening is sponsored by Gartner and will have hundreds of Black professionals in attendance. The venue is the stylish Sway Bar in Central London. By registering, you’ll also receive a free networking toolkit, to help ensure you start the year equipped with the right tools for success.

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