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Why Sponsorship is Key for Women in Construction

From International Women’s Day to Women in Construction Week to Women’s History Month, March is a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women in the construction industry and society at large. It is also an opportunity to call for the acceleration of gender equity around the world and break the biases that still prevail today.

In her article “A Slippery Path: College to Early Career Entry”, Dr. Adina Sterling, Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Business and Sociology at Stanford University, explains that women’s lack of representation and advancement is less a “pipeline” problem and more of a “career path” challenge. Research indicates that career and managerial support are the primary factors that contribute to women’s career development and retention.

Mentorship is seen as a relationship that provides knowledge and support to a junior-level employee to help further their careers. However, the mentorship relationship usually begins and ends with the mentor giving advice to their mentee. This falls short of the support that is needed to create career growth.

Sponsorship is a form of mentorship, where the “sponsor” moves beyond sharing advice to put their own reputation on the line. While mentorship can provide a base-level of support, sponsorship provides access to managers and leaders with social capital who can offer real access to opportunity.

Early in my career, I worked at a company where the CEO told me I was the smartest woman he had ever met. I knew he meant well by that comment in spite of the limiting aspect of my gender, so I simply responded with a thank you.

The intent of his compliment wasn’t malicious, rather he wanted to illustrate that he believed in me. He demonstrated this belief by giving me new projects to lead and inviting me to meetings that I would have otherwise been left out of. Many times, I was the only female in the room. Ultimately, the CEO became a sponsor to me and through his actions I was able to accelerate my career growth.

When organizations work towards fostering a culture where employees feel included and believe their company is committed to diversity, research shows companies can realize an 83% increase in the ability to innovate. Giving employees a shared voice is a key component of respect, core values, and engagement.

Procore’s upcoming Foundations for Progress webinar “Unlocking the Power of Sponsorship” is focused on how mentorship and sponsorship show up in the construction industry. What excites me about the webinar is the caliber of panelists that will be joining me to share their personal stories of how sponsorship has made a difference in their construction careers.

I will be moderating the panel with Judaline Cassidy, Chief Visionary Officer of Tools & Tiaras and Feminist Plumber, Christina Riley, Senior Planner at Quinn London Ltd., and Sara Cecchi, Global General Manager of Technology at DBM Vircon, who will speak to how we can all create mutually empowering sponsorship relationships.

Please join us on March 16th at 11 AM PDT for our webinar “Foundations for Progress: Unlock the Power of Sponsorship”. Register here.