As part of Women’s History Month, I want to celebrate the progress we’ve made, while acknowledging we have not achieved equity yet. This month, I’ll be sharing stories of the challenges women face in the workplace. Check out Challenge #1, Challenge #2, and Challenge #3.
Women’s Workplace Challenges: Challenge #4: Sporadic Sponsorship
I worked at one company where they offered a year-long leadership development course that was intended for high potential people ready to move to the next level. It was not only an honor to be part of the training, it was also the fast track that made you more likely to be promoted sooner.
Or so I hear. I can’t say for sure since I wasn’t ever selected for it.
You see, there were limits on how many people could be a part of the program. So for multiple years, my name was on the short list, but never in the top spot.
When I asked why not, I was told I didn’t “need” as much training as some of the others on the list. On the face, it was a compliment. I was growing my leadership skills on my own without a fancy class.
However, it was one of many ways that women like myself struggle when they hit middle management.
I didn’t have the implicit and explicit endorsement of senior leadership that comes from being selected for an emerging leader group. And without that endorsement, there wasn’t a lot of room for growth, since the first place they looked for new manager candidates was the leadership development class.
Sure seems like I DID need it.
I ended up leaving so I could try to win over a new group of people in the hopes of finally receiving that endorsement to get to a senior leadership role someday.
My clients share lots of similar stories with me on not having support at a high enough level to continue to progress in their careers. As one who has been there, I can assure you, the view from the plateau is not great!
If you want to be part of the solution, consider how you can use the various leadership development programs and opportunities as means to support and sponsor more women.
Image by me.