Press release:

Sponsorship And Mentoring Crucial To Increasing Gender Diversity At Executive Level

Tuesday 26 November 2019
  • Only 3% of female managers are sponsored and just 19% are mentored
  • Whilst 86% of senior leaders report formal mentoring programmes in firms they work with, just 21% report the existence of formal sponsorship schemes.
  • Three quarters of senior leaders agree sponsorship supports the promotion of talent, whilst two thirds agree it supports gender diversity.
    The Chartered Management Institute (CMI), the 30% Club and Russell Reynolds Associates, have today released a report calling on UK business leaders to take more proactive steps to address the gender imbalance in the executive leadership pipeline, following the release of the 2019 Hampton-Alexander Review report.

The report includes five key recommendations for businesses:

  • Sponsorship and mentoring must be part of a commitment to diversity driven from the top.
  • Formal sponsorship programmes must form part of talent management programmes.
  • Businesses must ensure sponsorship is embedded throughout the leadership layers.
  • Sponsorship efforts should be combined with a culture of mentoring, so women are supported all the way to executive roles.
  • Senior women and men should act as agents of change to back formal sponsorship.

Sponsorship, the practice of championing and advocating to support an individuals’ career progression, is only received by just 3% of female managers, meaning the overwhelming majority (97%) are not sponsored. Mentoring, a practice designed to guide and support across the course of a career, whilst better known, is still received by under 1 in 5 female managers (19%). The report also reveals that despite the clear benefits of sponsorship, only a fifth (21%) of senior leaders report formal sponsorship programmes in the organisations they work with.

Ann Francke, the CEO of CMI welcomed the progress which has led to more women in the boardrooms of FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies, however, underlined that more work is needed below board level roles:

We are making progress and the results of Hampton Alexander are welcomed; however, we still have too many women at the bottom of organisations and too few at the top.

Business must fix the "broken windows" of gender bias that impede women’s careers and mar their day-to-day experiences in the workplace. There are huge benefits to ensuring companies promote workplace equality – with McKinsey estimating that the ‘diversity dividend’ could add £150bn to the UK economy by 2025.

Heather Melville Chairwoman of CMI Women for the Chartered Management Institute said:

We know that there is great talent out there, you only have to look at today’s young graduates and entrepreneurs. To realise and benefit from that talent, companies have to put the formal mentoring structures in place that will develop and enrich the employees using them.

The sponsorship piece is really the difference between someone staying in your organisation or going somewhere else. Businesses need to realise that this is how they retain their talented staff in a competitive world.

Brenda Trenowden CBE, Global Co-Chair, 30% Club said:

We have had great traction in getting women mentored, but getting them sponsored has not been as straightforward. There are many things that companies need to do to create a level playing field for all in terms of opportunities to progress, and sponsorship is near the top of the list.

David Mills, Head of Commercial Strategy and Sector Operations at Russell Reynolds Associates, said:

There is no quick fix to creating diverse and inclusive organisations, in which all employees, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or socio-economic background can truly thrive at work. In a world that is changing at a faster rate than ever before, diversity and diverse perspectives are critical to future-proof businesses, ensuring that they are prepared to deal with the rapid disruption and transformation we see today. The tone that leadership teams set is critical. They must have clear, defined and measurable values to embed an inclusive culture throughout all layers of an organisation. We must continue to find ways to push for progress.

The Hampton Alexander Review Report 2019 shows that in November 2019, there were just 28.2% women at executive committee and direct report levels of FTSE 350 companies, so there is still much work to do to achieve better gender balance at the top of businesses.

- Ends -

Media contacts:

John Kaponi Head of Media Relations, CMI
30% Club

Notes to editors

Sponsoring Women’s Success: Executive leaders’ views on sponsoring and mentoring

  • CMI, the 30% Club and Russell Reynolds Associates have undertaken new research on sponsorship and mentoring in the executive management pipeline.
  • The research includes interviews and insight from 16 senior executive and non-executive leaders of UK businesses, a survey with 58 CMI Companions and a survey with 940 responding practising managers.
  • The full research report can be accessed here on from the CMI research team:

Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

  • The Chartered Management Institute is the chartered professional body for management and leadership, counting more than 132,000 managers and leaders in its membership community.
  • There are 6,856 Chartered Managers.
  • Backed by a unique Royal Charter, CMI is the only organisation able to award Chartered Manager status - the ultimate management accolade, which is proven to boost individuals’ career prospects, management capability and impact in the workplace.

The 30% Club

  • The 30% Club believes that gender balance on boards and in senior management not only encourages better leadership and governance, but diversity further contributes to better all-round board performance, and ultimately increased corporate performance for both companies and their shareholders.
  • It was founded in 2010 and has since evolved into a global mission with chapters in 14 countries and regions.
  • The 30% Club collaborates with businesses, governments and other campaigns to improve gender diversity and accelerate the pace of change throughout organisations. Campaign targets include a minimum 30% women at senior management level of FTSE-100 companies by 2020.

Russell Reynolds Associates

  • Russell Reynolds Associates (RRA) is a global leadership advisory and search firm. RRA has 470+ consultants in 46 offices work with public, private and nonprofit organizations across all industries and regions.
  • RRA help clients build teams of transformational leaders who can meet today’s challenges and anticipate the digital, economic and political trends that are reshaping the global business environment.
  • From helping boards with their structure, culture and effectiveness to identifying, assessing and defining the best leadership for organizations, RRA’s teams bring their decades of expertise to help clients address their most complex leadership issues. RRA exist to improve the way the world is led.