Essential Reading: CMI’s latest research on sponsoring and mentoring will help you to secure a diverse talent pipeline

Mixed race businesswoman giving a presentation at a meeting

Workplace gender diversity and inclusion is a critical business issue that still needs to be fully addressed.

Women make up nearly half the workforce in the UK but they are woefully underrepresented in senior management and there remains a persistent pay gap between men and women. This is both unfair and poor economics: we know that diverse workforces are more profitable with McKinsey estimating that eliminating the gender pay gap could boost UK GDP by £150 billion by 2025.

While there have been some high profile gains over recent years, overall progress remains much too slow: currently just four per cent of CEOs and seven per cent of board chairs are female in the FTSE 350. The main issue is the pipeline. The glass pyramid – where we see many more women in the bottom quartile of organisations than at the top – is still very much a feature of the corporate world, with male managers 40 per cent more likely to be promoted than women.

There is no silver bullet for tackling these structural inequalities but identifying and nurturing talent is an essential place to start. Sponsoring and mentoring are practical tools that managers and leaders can use to secure a diverse pipeline of talent. CMI has been advocating for companies to take responsibility for this since 2018 when we published our Blueprint for Balance report. It recommended that executive leadership teams ensure they sponsor at least one high-potential woman and track her progress, while leadership teams support senior and middle managers to sponsor more female middle managers and managers to mentor female team members.

However, our latest research finds that only three per cent of CMI’s female practising manager members report receiving sponsorship and mentoring, a more well known practice designed to guide and support women, is still only received by just under one in five CMI female managers.

This 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, highlights best practice for sponsorship and mentoring schemes, and details how sponsorship can support formal talent management programmes. We urge all businesses committed to the best businesses practices to use this resource to boost their diversity and inclusion initiatives. We know it will make a difference.

Ann Francke, the CEO of CMI said, “We know that diverse businesses are more productive businesses.”

“We need to see greater progress from organisations in fixing the ‘broken windows’ of gender bias that prevent women from achieving their potential and hold businesses back.”

“Our report provides important insights and tips to implement sponsorship and mentoring and capitalise on this talent.”

“We hope all businesses take note!”

You can read the full report here.

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