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The corporate sponsor as hero - advancing women into leadership roles - The sponsorship shortage - EY - United States

The corporate sponsor as hero: advancing women into leadership roles

The sponsorship shortage

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"Sponsorship is high stakes for the sponsor, the protégé and the organization." - Sponsoring women to success

Although the business case for women's advancement has been proven time and time again, women currently make up 34% of senior management and comprise only 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs, according to The Sponsor Effect, a research report published by the Center for Work-Life Policy (CWLP).

The obstacle to senior management, as identified in that study and other research, is an absence of proactive support from senior leaders. In other words, there is a shortage of sponsorship.

Senior leaders — both male and female — should take concrete steps to minimize gender disparities and help advance women into leadership positions in their organizations.

Some of the leaders you'll meet in this paper are succeeding in the face of unusual cultural and social obstacles. Their methods and examples show that sponsorship is vital to women's promotions and career opportunities.

Why does sponsorship matter?

Sponsorship is a long-term, hands-on commitment to encouraging, fighting for and creating advancement opportunities for high-potential individuals.

The CWLP study notes that men are more likely than women to have sponsors — and, as a result, more promotions and career opportunities. By contrast, women often fail to recognize the importance of sponsorship and often don't know how to proactively pursue such relationships.

The fact that women may not seek out such support puts greater responsibility on the prospective sponsor.


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