If we are to future-proof our leaders, business and personal success, active sponsorship becomes an imperative. The collaborative We space delivers learning experiences, the chance to grow, and the opportunity to promote and sponsor others. The business case for sponsoring others is there. Research conducted by the Center of Talent and Innovation found that those men and women that were sponsored felt that they were progressing through the ranks of business at a satisfactory pace — 70 per cent for men and 68 per cent for women — compared to 57 per cent of those individuals that did not have sponsors. The Catalyst study highlights businesses that have instituted formal programs charged with training a diverse group of high-performing employees in the benefits of sponsorship. According to the study, model programs can be found at McDonald’s, Deutsche Bank, CH2M HILL and Citi. The Harvard study also applauded several companies with active sponsorship programs, including American Express, Cisco, Deloitte and Time Warner. Procter & Gamble (P&G) has historically had a strong focus on diversity and inclusion. The company has a myriad strategies, programs and activities to support its employees and embrace inclusion across locations. P&G leaders have found that women in particular may have fewer role models, especially in areas such as technology or research and development. To address this issue, the company formed several core teams of senior women within business lines and aimed to support women on their career journey in these key fields. Many regional efforts, like those in China and across Asia, link to broader corporate activities. For those who are looking to sponsor, there needs to be an understanding: • of the time commitment involved; it’s about giving of oneself and sharing knowledge and resources • that they will have to advocate on their protégé’s behalf, connecting them to important players and assignments • that as a sponsor, they will not only give advice and listen; they will actively seek opportunities for advancement for their protégés. For those wishing to be sponsored, there are important points to bear in mind too: • this is a two-way street; stellar performance is expected because your sponsor is going to go the extra mile for you in terms of promoting you to influential people • your sponsor is, without being cynical, looking for some kind of return on their investment • you have to make them look good, because they are endorsing you to a very high degree. As Kerrie Peraino, global head of talent at American Express, says: Trust is at the heart of this relationship … when I put my faith in up-and-coming talent and become their spon sor, I need to know I can totally depend on them — because they are, after all, walking around with my brand on. And that is possibly the biggest benefit to both parties with sponsoring. The person being sponsored gets practical help, not just advice, in terms of their career advancement — and the person sponsoring has a talented individual at their fingertips, with the potential to become a valuable resource in their own arena, business or future collaborations.