Sponsoring Women's Success

Executive leaders views on sponsoring and mentoring

Workplace gender diversity and inclusion remains a critical business issue that still needs to be fully addressed. Although women make up nearly half of the workforce in the UK, they still predominantly find themselves relegated to entry-level roles rather than management positions and face significant challenges working their way up the management pipeline.

Our report, produced by CMI in partnership with the 30% Club and Russell Reynolds Associates, provides an overview of the extent of sponsorship and mentoring in UK businesses among managers and senior leaders. It drills down to focus on the perspective of senior decision makers in UK firms about the role sponsoring in particular should play in the workplace, alongside mentoring, to support gender diversity at an executive level. The research presents insight from 16 UK Business Leaders, and a survey of CMI Companions and practising managers.


  • 1

    Sponsorship and mentoring must be part of a commitment to diversity driven from the top.

  • 2

    Formal sponsorship programmes must form part of talent management programmes.

  • 3

    Businesses must ensure sponsorship is embedded throughout the leadership layers.

  • 4

    Sponsorship efforts should be combined with a culture of mentoring, so women are supported all the way to executive roles.

  • 5

    Senior women and men should act as agents of change to back formal sponsorship.

Sponsorship and mentoring crucial to increasing gender diversity at executive level

We are making progress 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.

Ann Francke, the CEO of CMI