Race Matters is module two of five in the Sponsor Toolkit.
This module tackles challenging issues related to race and explains how a failure to address such issues, perhaps out of fear or discomfort (either on the part of the sponsors or their protégé) can adversely affect their relationship and possibly the protégé’s career goals. Equally, an understanding and acknowledgement of the specific issues early career BME leaders can face, along with a willingness to ‘talk about race’ can strengthen the relationship, making for a more mutually rewarding experience and increasing the chances for career success.
An overview of all five modules can be found here.
Sponsor/protégé relationships that arise spontaneously often do so because the sponsor spots someone who reminds them of themselves when they were younger. These relationships are characterised by mutual interest and liking in addition to respect for each other’s careers. Given that the majority of senior managers are both white and male, there is less likelihood of an aspiring BME leader igniting that ‘spark’ of recognition. Adding gender further complicates matters because of the risk of misattributed motives of an approach made by a senior male manager to a more junior female colleague. Formal sponsoring schemes are needed therefore to ensure that the benefits of sponsoring can be accessed by a diverse range of talent.
However, sponsor/protégé relationships that arise naturally tend to be of a higher quality and result in more positive outcomes than formal relationships. One solution is to set up formal sponsoring relationships  in a way that they develop the characteristics of high quality informal ones. In this section of the toolkit we explore how to put this solution in to practice, and in particular the extra dimensions posed by cross-race/ethnicity sponsoring relationships.
. Guardian news January 2017
. Raggins, B.R. and Cotton, J.L. (1999). Mentor functions and outcomes: A comparison of men and women in formal and informal mentoring relationships, Journal of Applied Psychology 84 (4); 529-550
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