Session Transcripts

Live transcripts from all the talks and several of the sessions at SRCCON:WORK.

A mentor will get you coffee. A sponsor will get you a promotion

Session facilitator(s): Erin Grau, Cindy Taibi

Day & Time: Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, at 12:15pm

Room: Franklin

ERIN: We’re going to start, right?

CINDY: Stan here is the transcriber here. So we’re transcribing which is great. We’ll have a transcript but just say “off the record” if you’re going to say something that you don’t want to be in the transcript.

ERIN: So we are from the New York Times, I’m Erin Grau, the Vice President of Transformation, which is a whole nother talk I can give another time of what that is. But it’s really making sure that the organization is working in greater concert to produce high-quality products faster. There’s people from my team here which is really exciting. And also I founded Women in Tech two and a half years ago so I’m the diversity and digital, more broadly across our digital teams, which is now a whole other part of my job when I’ll talk about another time. But we created this mentorship program about a year and a half ago, and we realize that it’s really helping women and people of color in the more junior and middle management but the top of the company has really largely remained the same.

So we’ve been focusing now on sponsorship. We’re about to pilot a sponsorship program. And so we have some answers, we have a lot of questions and so we’re hoping to tap into this collective brain trust to help us figure some of that stuff out and hopefully you’ll be able to leave with some ideas for your companies, too.

CINDY: Hi, everybody. I’m also from the New York Times. My name is Cindy Taibi and I’m the Vice President in the Technology Department at the Times. So just to add to Erin’s introduction, I would say that the mentorship program that she spoke about, and the sponsorship program that we’re here to talk about today kind of grew out of the Women in Tech Initiative. And, oh, by the way, I’m one of the co-leads of our Women in Tech Committee.

So, like, I want to say that these programs grew out of Women in Tech because we happen to have a strong passionate group leading our Women in Tech Initiative but we firmly believe that these things are really important for our workforce and we want to make them inclusive. So it’s not like they’re just for women, they’re just for people of color, we believe — and luckily we have support from our management that they’re really good for the whole workforce. So that’s sort of the background of what we’re doing.

Our goal for this session today, what we want to talk about is: what are the benefits of a sponsorship program, and what distinguishes sponsorship from mentorship? We, in our minds, have a clear idea of that for our company. But we’re from a fairly big company and you may have different ideas from a mid-sized or a small company so I think we should talk about that. What makes a good sponsor, what makes a good protégé, you know, the counterpart of the mentee, the protégé, and then the effort of this session is to really spend the last part of it breaking into groups and we’re going to try to build a framework for a sponsorship program so that you guys can actually take that away and have something to talk about when you get back to your offices. So it’s kind of a lot for a little under an hour. So we should jump in, right?

ERIN: Yeah, so why sponsorship? We have a lot of articles and videos that we’ll share with you.

CINDY: We’ve done a ton of research.

ERIN: Ton of research. And we’ll also share with you the mentorship program which Jess presented at SRCCON this summer. So we have some documents that we can share with you. But today we’re going to really focus on sponsorship and why it’s important. We know it impacts pay. People with sponsors are more likely to ask for and get a raise. It impacts retention. You’re more likely to stay at a company where you feel more supported and have opportunities.

CINDY: Other things, it impacts ambition, and what I mean about that is if you have a sponsor, you’re more likely to sustain your goals. You’re less likely to simplify what you’re aiming for. You’re going to aim higher if you feel like you’re supported. You won’t downsize your dreams, so to speak.

Sponsorship also impacts advancement for employees in under-represented groups. Like I said, women, people of color, any sort of under-represented groups. Why is that? Because people who are sort of in the mainstream are more likely to already have developed spontaneous sponsorship relationships.

So if you have an actual program, it makes it available. So here’s a couple of statistics that just sort of support that from our research, the data says that men are 46% more likely than women to have a sponsor, and Caucasians are 63% more likely than people of color to have a sponsor. So when we look at that, that tells us that it’s really important to sort of have a program. And so can I just sort of share today’s news, which I think is so interesting at this point? Can I? Off the record.

[ Off-the-Record Discussion ]

ERIN: So we use data kind of as an art and science and when we’ve created these programs we’ve used quantitative and qualitative research and so we think it’s important to tell the story, especially when we come to places like this, and try to, like, share expertise to have the data to share. I can’t yet share the data internally about our mentorship program but like I said we know it’s working. Okay. So let’s talk about sponsorship. How many people feel like they know what sponsorship is versus mentorship.

CINDY: Great. In shout it out.

ERIN: What do you think it is? Sponsorship, versus mentorship, maybe.

CINDY: Anyone.

SISI: Being somebody’s advocate in a moment in which you can elevate that person.

ERIN: Okay.

CINDY: Who else?

KIM: A mentor offers advice, whereas an advocate makes things happen.

CINDY: Makes things happen, right? That sort of goes in line with our title for this session, right? Who else?

ERIN: Yeah?

AUDIENCE: I would say they’re not only invested but again, like Sisi was saying, have the power to elevate your career. So if they’re invested in your career and, like, helping you achieve whatever career goals you have.

ERIN: Yeah, it’s like a big investment and it’s…

CINDY: Right. So we should hang on to that because later on when we talk about what makes a good sponsor, right, you want to have a sponsor who is going to be able to make that happen, right? And be successful at that.

ERIN: What else? What else is, like, different than a mentorship? Sponsorship? Okay? Level of commitment.

AUDIENCE: They have the know-how to navigate the system and have a game plan to get from A to B. Even though it takes steps A1, A2, A3 to get to B.

ERIN: So they have a game plan. The sponsors are more integrated into the company.

AUDIENCE: They’re more integrated into the politics and they know who wields the power. And certain classes to get —

CINDY: So I’ll throw something out there that I think is related to what you just said and maybe will spark something else but one of the things that I have is a sponsor can sort of cover the protégé, so that the protégé is safe taking risks, right? What about the level of commitment, the difference do you think between a mentor — being a mentor and being a sponsor?

JESSICA: More of a commitment?

TYLER: I think there’s a different work relationship I guess, in the sense that a mentor is more hands off in terms of, like, your actual job duties whereas the sponsor is more committed. More of, like, a direct colleague.

CINDY: Yeah, what I wrote down is it’s a two-way street. You both have skin in the game. To me, that’s sort of what you’re saying, right? But I do have a question for the room: how many of you have ever been a mentor? And how many of you have ever been a sponsor? Oh, that’s really great.

ERIN: Like officially, unofficially?

AUDIENCE: Unofficially.

AUDIENCE: Unofficially.

CINDY: Great. Do any of your employers have official sponsorship programs today? It could go by other names. It could be, like, leadership training or something like that.

AUDIENCE: I’m hoping we can get into this later, ours has put its toe into a formal one, many of us do informally sponsor and then there’s the organization — the upper tiers of the organization seem to be afraid of that in some capacity but it’s not completely clear to me but we can talk about that.

CINDY: About why they’re afraid.

AUDIENCE: What distinguishes a formal mentorship program with a sponsorship program.

CINDY: And by the way, we’re just dipping our toes into it, too. The class we’re launching in January is the first one, and it’s a pilot. So… same.

ERIN: I think so. And yeah, the culture of sponsorship, we wanted to get within an hour. So we wanted to think through some of the big problems and how it can inform a more formal program but whether your companies do that or not, I think there’s benefit thinking about what makes a great sponsor, or what do you have to do in order to be a protégé in a sponsor kind of relationship. So yeah, I think we’ll hopefully get into that stuff, too. Anything else?

JESSICA: One thing that I’m noticing recently, is that sponsors volley up opportunities to you. Sponsorship is active, and mentorship is passive.

CINDY: That’s kind of our vision for it and you know this better than anyone. When we did our mentorship program, the guideline was it’s mentee — sponsor guided but mentee led. So we really felt that in mentoring, it’s on the mentee to know what their goals are. And sponsorship, it is more active. And another way we think about a distinction is that mentorship is about development of the mentee, and sponsorship is about advancement. So there’s a subtle difference between development and advancement, right? A subtle but important difference, I think.

ERIN: Anything else before we move on?

AUDIENCE: I have a quick question. Is it possible to have a sponsor who’s not in your organization the way that you guys are thinking about it?

ERIN: Based on our research and our experience — so in our research, we obviously write a lot. We obviously talk to a lot of companies and people who’ve created programs. And spent the better part of six months thinking through, but none of the models that we looked at have sponsors outside of the organization because that person would have to advocate for you. So it would be possible if they were on a board, because if they can’t advocate for you to get stretch projects or advancement opportunities, it’s more of a mentorship if they’re giving you advice but if they’re behind the scenes, and advocating for you, and getting you in front of people, that’s the value. But I would be interested. I mean, that’s one of the things that one of the groups will talk about so I’m interested in what you think a great sponsor would be, and what makes a successful sponsor-protégé relationship.

NICOLE: I think sponsors maybe, also this goes with making things happen, but push I guess protégés to take risks that they wouldn’t have ever considered because I think with mentorship, it’s, again, often mentee driven whereas I think sponsor, A, like, knows the mentee, or their protégé better and, therefore, is able to kind of, again, like, navigate them in the right direction even if they don’t know that that should really be going.

ERIN: There’s so many things there. The pushing, and then getting them to cover or take risks, that close relationship. Yeah, that’s all great. Anything else? But we can build on that, right? Stan. Did you type that? This is our first time at SRCCON and also presenting at SRCCON and also talking about sponsorship publicly so… a lot of new things for us.

CINDY: We’re actually hoping to learn as much to you as we’re going to say to you.

ERIN: So we thought the bulk of our day today will be spent breaking up into groups and talking about the framework for a sponsorship program or relationship. We were — we were thinking four groups. So maybe you’re a group…

CINDY: Yeah, and can you guys just cluster somewhere? Okay. So what we’re going to do… it ends at 15 or 20 minutes.

ERIN: So we’re going to spend 15 minutes in groups and we have some thought starters for you, and themes for your group and then we’ll do a read-out and hear about what each group is thinking. And ideally at the end we’ll have some structured framework for you to take back.

CINDY: So the idea is for each group we’re going to take a prompt, and each prompt is going to say, you’re going to focus on one section on how you put together a program, and, you know, when we do the read-outs and put it all together, we’ll have everything.

ERIN: So group one is going to be — this is going to be you, the benefits of a sponsorship program. So things that you need to think about or, like, who benefits from it, or who has access to a program like this in the context of your company, how do you address the senior leadership. The company’s needs now, what your future leadership team looks like, what you want it to look like, if you’re building a diverse pipeline, what does that look like for a sponsorship program, what success looks like. These are some of the things that you’re going to be thinking about over the next 15 minutes. You’re going to be thinking about the protégés, so people who are trying to get into leadership. You’re going to think about who has access to the program, what’s the commitment, is it a one-on-one relationship, is there a benefit of a cohort? What does it mean to have a cohort, the selection process, criteria, messaging, particularly to people who are not in such a program.

Okay. Group three. You’re going to think about sponsors! So, um, who are the sponsors, how do you get them to participate, what is their commitment, what makes a good sponsor, how do you incentivize sponsors, how do you evaluate them, and maybe the pairing process. How do you make a match with somebody, what’s important. How do you run it? How is it involved. Is it a type of whisper network type thing — strike that — actually it’s not a whisper network especially now. But you know, behind the scenes that’s not public. The benefits of the programming and costs. We’re going to think about all that in 15 minutes.

CINDY: Any questions about this? Good to go?

ERIN: Okay.

CINDY: Great.

[ Group Work ]

ERIN: Okay. We’re going to come back together and so each group is going to get, like, five minutes to talk. So we’re going to start with group one. So tell us what you heard and people can feel free to jump in and we’ll, like, double click on things that might be interested to this group. So the benefits of the sponsorship program. So what were some of the things that you thought about, agreed on, disagreed on?

SARAH: So we were thinking, obviously, promotion. Someone who can — knows an institution and can help someone navigate. Can speak on that person’s behalf in order to sort of increase visibility across the organization. Provide encouragement. An accountability buddy. Like, holding people, you know, to their goals, and help them get through. Providing actionable feedback. And setting reasonable timelines within the organization, and for the protégé.

ERIN: So you focused on promotion specifically if you’re in a program like this you think it should be guaranteed?

SARAH: Not necessarily promotion. That was one of the things that we started with, but navigating the organization, and increasing visibility across the organization.

ERIN: Does anyone have thoughts about what you just heard? Benefits for the program, or what you thought for your company, or some of the challenges that you see at your company?

AUDIENCE: So we also did talk about challenges of smaller organizations versus larger organizations. I work for a ten-person place. Kim works for a 100-person place. These things might not exactly work in smaller organizations and we started talking about, could there been an option of sort of a peer sponsorship? Does that offer the same benefit that a true sponsorship program would apply or could a person who was a sponsor — maybe there’s only a few potential sponsors, could those people actually rotate through a couple of different protégés over a period of time to actually be able to get to the people who are sort of at the — even more middle or bottom of the pyramid sort of idea.

CINDY: What about the benefits of a sponsorship program from the point of view of the company? Why would the company want to have this?

SARAH: I think it would help with retention. If you help people achieve their career goals, and, like, show that — or if the company shows that it’s invested in seeing their employees succeed.

ERIN: It’s interesting. I know your group was tackling, like, the messaging around it. But did you talk about whether this is open to, like, a large group, or a small group, obviously, depending on the size of your company because there would be people who would be in it, or wouldn’t be it in it.

SARAH: We started talking, ideally, it would be everyone, but an application process. But we didn’t really come to any conclusions.

KIM: We were worried that there would be so much interest and then their applications would get turned down, so what would that do for people who were discouraged already, and it would disenfranchise people who already feel disenfranchised even more. So if I had a sponsor, it would have to be, like, the president of the company, and there’s one of them. You know, it’s only the correct sponsor for where we are would be one human being. There’s, like, one person in our company that can do that. So that means that anybody at any other level will get turned down. So we were finishing discussing, that maybe it would be only for a period of time, so that person could go to another one. But we weren’t sure how that would work.

ERIN: And did you think through what success could look like because that was something that we struggled with a lot. What does it mean, promotion, or expanded responsibilities in 12-18 months is what we were thinking. But then we did some analysis of our own data, the level of promotions to director or above, and the number of who were on the cusp of that to figure out what was possible because we wanted to be ambitious but not something that we couldn’t actually achieve. But anyway, I’d love your thoughts if you talked about that at all. Or anybody else, like what success looks like.

AUDIENCE: We talked about it.

ERIN: Okay. We can circle back.

CINDY: What about the whole thing of like this program, like, in our case is to build a pipeline for future leaders, right? We’re targeting at little bit more senior levels because we feel like, as Erin said earlier, we’ve been able to make a difference in staff levels in the organization. So we’re kind of focusing on senior levels and if you think about the notion that a program will make this kind of advancement opportunity more available to employees in under-represented groups, like, what would that mean to your company, right? So, like, in our case, we’re really looking to change what the senior leadership looks like, right? So any thoughts about how that benefits your companies or how would your senior leadership react to something like that?

AUDIENCE: I think it has the benefit potentially of making the workplace more inclusive in a way that it is not now. It really depends, though, on sort of the — you have to be able to be open to including people that you may not have before in the program itself. And sometimes that is — that doesn’t happen. The danger with some of these types of programs like leadership programs in general can just start to reinforce the same people who have already had those opportunities.

CINDY: Exactly, exactly.

ERIN: Defining —

AUDIENCE: So trying to focus around — I mean, like, for you all, or for anybody creating something, what is your goal, what is it that the company is going to get out of this? If that is the point of it, then that has to determine who’s part of it.

CINDY: Mm-hmm, exactly.

ERIN: Sounds like a change piece, culture change piece, what is a new leader, and how can the organization support that? You were going to say something.

AUDIENCE: So not only are your protégés being elevated but also with sponsors, it’s kind of management-with-training-wheels scenario, maybe? Maybe that’s not the best way to put it but if you’re considering someone to be a manager, it’s worth looking at who do they advocate for, and how respective are they at doing that, and that’s kind of a sign of at least one perspective of how they would be as a manager.

CINDY: I totally agree with that because I think one of the requirements of a good leader is their ability to, you know, develop people. You know, attract good talent, develop their people and all of that, so I completely agree with that.

ERIN: Oh, yeah?

AUDIENCE: We were talking in our group and I brought this up, like, being in this conversation that I struggle with the idea of mentor/menteeship based on the hierarchy and the structure of power within those relationships. And I think within organizations that want to tout their diversity, programs like this are going to have to be required at some point because we often see people, women of color in lower levels and how do we get them to the top. And with people okay with giving up power. You’re teaching them how to be leaders and at a point, they’re going to know more than you. Or you need to give up your position and someone needs to take over for you and that is going to have to be the larger conversation because that’s where you hit roadblocks where you move someone up in the organization, and they are sponsored, and then all of a sudden, a VP is like, well, I’m staying here, or I’m not leaving, or I’m in charge and I’m the leader. And that’s can’t be the conversation anymore.

CINDY: But that’s like succession planning, right?

ERIN: Yeah, one of the benefits of something like this.

CINDY: I think that’s so right.

ERIN: Yeah, let’s move on to protégés. It was your group. So what did you — what did you all think about the last 15 minutes?

CINDY: What makes a good protégé?

NICOLE: We talked about trust a lot because oftentimes it involves someone more senior vouching for you. I don’t think we came up with super clear answers but I guess our biggest selection criteria would be a signal that the protégé is trustworthy, is a self-starter, is ambitious and follows through on things.

AUDIENCE: And is invested. I feel like we came up with more challenges to how to pick protégés. So something that we had talked about, right, is that if we’re thinking about protégés for people, for sponsors who have the ability to help them on, like, a more regular basis. So if it’s a direct-report kind of relationship, how will that affect the dynamics of the rest of the team, if it’s an exclusive team. So if one person on the team is part of their sponsorship program, and their boss, or maybe even one step above is their sponsor, like, how will everybody else on that team feel, and will it make everybody else, like, not enjoy their time on the team?

But is there a way to — like is there even a logistical way to make sure that if you’re going to have a smaller pool, that, like, everybody who, similar to, like, what Kim in the first group said, about what’s going to happen to the people who are rejected from the program when they see this happening and they see the benefits of sponsorship happening to one person, and how will that play out? And we didn’t really know how to quite figure that out.

ERIN: Yeah, it’s really interesting ‘cause we struggled, too, with a culture sponsorship. There’s people in this room, when we asked to raise your hand, I’m sure, there are people who didn’t raise their hand who are informally sponsoring people, and then there are people who are super protective, not necessarily in this room, and possibly, they don’t know how to be a good sponsor. There’s a concept of microsponsorship, and what that looks like at scale.

Yeah, and so I think maybe starting a program like this, you would have to be at some point on the adoption curve of a culture sponsorship so you’re not starting from nothing.

So there’s more of that. It’s not like if you’re in this program, you’re being sponsored, and if you’re not, you have, like, no chance. So I don’t know the right balance either. But those are really good points. What else did you think about with…?

CINDY: I’m curious. Did you guys talk about whether it would be better for the — would the protégés go through a program together and, like, form a cohort and almost become resources for each other? Or more sort of the one-on-one relationship is the thing?

AUDIENCE: Well, we talked about it being a cohort because in an ideal world, there would be one protégé and multiple sponsors depending on the case. So I feel like that can also help with the feeling of exclusiveness because in that way many more people can participate and you just make a request — like, what do you need in this case, depending on who you are and you have multiple sponsors. So it’s not like one-on-one. That really creates that weird feeling in some way, I guess.

ERIN: And you — I wanted to go back to the trust thing. So that’s an interesting model we haven’t explored that I would love to hear more about. Maybe it’s the culture of people are better at sponsoring. But the relationship — you said the word trust was really important to you. How do you build that, and is it something that you feel like is on the protégé, on the sponsor, or equally both? And how do you get the sponsor — like the protégé to a level where they’re like ready, their work is really high quality, they’re ambitious, invested. How do you prove that? Did you think through that at all?

NICOLE: We thought a lot about pure vouching. So someone who’s interested in becoming a protégé. I mean, it feels weird hitting people up on your team to speak highly of you. But those are the people who you work with day to day and those are the people who can speak to your work probably the best. So we were thinking the ways people can basically vouch for you at a more peer or junior level before you level up to that of a sponsor.

AUDIENCE: Yeah, because one thing that we were discussing was that if someone’s sponsoring someone else, they’re putting their reputation on the line so you have to deliver on what you’re going to do. And a lot of natural sponsorship might happen after people have already — a sponsor-minded person might have already approached a sponsor relationship. So if you’re starting a program where two people might not be as familiar with each other, then how do you prove that you are, like, a trustworthy person that’s going to follow through? That’s where like the peer recommendations or vouching came in to.

AUDIENCE: I feel like it could be a two-way selection thing because a lot of mentorship programs, you select mentors separately and you select mentees separately and somehow you match them randomly for the planners. But I don’t think that would work well for sponsorship because it’s much more personal and you’re vouching for them. So it should be more intimate than that. So maybe like one-on-one interviews and the protégés also get to pick the sponsors because if the sponsors are not the type of person they want, it won’t work either.

CINDY: We’ve talked about that, too. It’s a real connection.

ERIN: We have a couple thoughts that I’ll share really quickly.

CINDY: Ten minutes.

ERIN: We’ll — we’ve thought through, like, a series of coffee dates. So with, like, the leadership, that would be sponsors, for example. So try to manufacture those relationships a little bit. But also with, like, the selection criteria, things that are important to us. So we do inboxes. So performance is definitely important. But curiosity is definitely really important at our company, love of learning, humility is really important. Enthusiasm. That doesn’t mean someone who’s an extrovert. We’re thinking someone who’s a connector — and we actually put criteria together to say if you’re kind of rating people, we have the protégé’s answer questions, a series of questions, potentially, to get at those things, and then we have the selection committee would have some kind of rubric to say, like, this is what we think a positive answer is, or what we think a negative — or a positive characteristic, or a negative characteristic, to try to help guide to us figure out the kind of person that we think should be a great protégé but it’s definitely not all performance. More on that. Okay. Sponsors. What did you think through?

AUDIENCE: So going off of that, we were talking about the idea of some kind of speed dating or coffee chat because we were thinking about it being a two-way street and you want there to be a real connection, I guess and we were kind of struggling through who the sponsors would ideally be because you would want more importantly someone who can vouch for your work and be invested in your success but at the same time you don’t want there to be a conflict of interest, I guess, within your organization. And, like, you want a different perspective almost. So, like, someone from, like, up and lateral is kind of where we landed on that ideally would be best case scenario but that’s not always perfect.

CINDY: Wait, so are you saying the perfect sponsor for a particular protégé is someone who’s higher but lateral?


CINDY: That would be the direction?


TARA: Because sometimes if it is your manager, it could be a conflict or interest, or just like, I don’t know, a little bit too close to home, and someone on your team can give insight but it feels like it still needs to be within the same. Or if you’re in engineering, it should be another person who’s also in engineering because if it’s, like, a senior editor, they’re not gonna know the other stuff to kind of, like, help you with.

CINDY: How can they really help you?

TARA: — with the opportunities.

CINDY: And I think that gets back to a point someone else made, if it’s a direct manager, how does it affect the rest of the team? You have to think about that?

AUDIENCE: And up and lateral seemed to make sense because if it’s too high and they’re invested in your career success, they can tell your manager to promote. Do you know what I mean? And if you’re below, you need the respect of that person’s manager. So if you’re below that person, that makes it tough, as well.

AUDIENCE: How does that work if your organization is either small or very flat structured?

AUDIENCE: Yeah, I’m — I’m not sure of that department.

TARA: In an ideal situation… like, my team is not — the tech and product team I work on is, like, maybe 40 people. So there’s only maybe, like, one or two other people on my team who are above and over who are still on engineering team. And it’s like there’s other people, as well, who would want to be the — to be, like, the protégés of them, and they probably can’t take on that many people so it is a very lateral, like, company, and it is a challenge that we have to figure out.

CINDY: You realize to put all this together, you realize that there’s so many things that you have to — maybe at a larger company, you start out small. We’re thinking between five and ten protégés in our first pilot for all the things that you guys have raised.

ERIN: And to understand the scale, there’s over 400 people in our engineering department. So that’s a little bit maybe different kind of challenge. But up and lateral is something we thought about. We thought about the things that they need to do. They need to know about the protégé. They need to care about them, they need to believe in them. So we went down the same path that you’ve gone down, so that feels good that there’s agreement there. Anything else that you want to talk about?

TARA: When we were talking about the incentivization, what Tyler brought up was that, like, it would be kind of like a manager-in-training type of thing, and sometimes, like, with incentivization, you can help the company culture, and help, like, if it’s someone that you really care about who is your protégé, like, to see them grow, but a lot of times, incentivization should be — like, you’re only going to incentivize people really if it’s only to help themselves, to help the sponsors themselves. So being like, oh, we can help you on the managerial track or something could be — can help bring in people who may not have wanted to be a sponsor to begin with.

ERIN: Yeah, it’s interesting. In our research, we found the two-way street is really the thing, the hook for us meaning, like, the other thing the sponsor would get out of it is they would kind of say, these are the things that are really important to me, and their protégé, or protégés would be working towards that in their groups. But the manager thing is a really interesting thing that we didn’t think about. Okay. Group four. Okay. We have five minutes. Group four. You guys are talking about managing the program.

AUDIENCE: Yeah, so we had a good conversation earlier to the point earlier of starting at the executive level, getting buy-in from them, but also this conversation around shared accountability with the program in the case that someone may leave the organization, and suddenly they no longer have the sponsor they were working with to ensure that protégés still have that level of sponsorship within the organization. And also having check-ins to ensure that what the protégé is doing aligns with who is sponsoring them, and how that may change as time goes on, as they continue to move up in the organization and ways to evaluate and reflect back on the work you’ve done. Looking at how people move up in the organization. You guys want to add anything because I feel like I’m going to forget it.

MELODY: There were some metrics that we were thinking about, like the velocity of people being promoted within the program as compared to the people outside of the program. And are there benchmarks that could be industrywide where it becomes almost like the HRC benchmarks for workplaces, and LGBT-friendly workplaces. Like, how do you set this up where the New York Times says, this is what we’re doing, and Vox says, this is what we’re doing, and maybe there’s some public accountability, as well.

AUDIENCE: Melody also brought up an interesting point which I think is worth thinking about is audience facing — ways to evaluate your space based on stories. So in your newsroom, if one of your goals is to change the demographic makeup of your newsroom, and this came up in the last session — and this actually came up on stage this morning — being able to note whether your stories are, for example, coming up with less criticism for the the way that they’re addressing sensitive subjects, or the topics that they’re covering, the way they’re covering the topics, that’s visible only once leadership looks different.

CINDY: Right, it would be evidenced by that. Yeah, that’s really interesting.

KRISTIN: To piggyback off that, we all work in media, and it’s in the interest of a media company to have a diverse leadership because that shows the type of readership that you want to attract.

CINDY: Bingo.

KRISTIN: So if you attract people of all colors of the rainbow, so I think it’s in the best interest of a business to show readers that, like, what you have in is also very diverse and very accepting of a culture like that.

CINDY: Yeah.

ERIN: That’s a good way to end it, with the moral imperative and the business imperative so summarize it, yeah. But thank you all. So I think we’re going to write a post. I don’t know, this is our first SRCCON. So I think the next step is we will write some kind of a post summarizing all the stuff. We’ll put everything into a shared folder.

CINDY: I guess we’ll add it to the etherpad, right?

ERIN: And we’re also going to send out a bunch of links — links and videos in case they’re helpful. And hopefully soon we’ll have our pilot program and we’ll share that with you, too. And, again, like I said we have tons of research with Dell, and LinkedIn, and Pivotal Labs, and we’ll share the findings from that program if it’s helpful to you.

CINDY: Thank you for coming. Oh, the stickers!

ERIN: Oh, we have stickers if anyone wants them for your laptop on the table.

CINDY: Thank you.

[ Applause ]