Happy International Women’s Day 2022! IWD is a day to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness and inspire actions to foster equality. This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. I’d like to propose a way of breaking bias that many of us may not have considered: sponsorship.
Sponsorship is all around us. We have been watching in action for years. We simply may not have known what to call it. I recently watched The Summer of Soul a powerful documentary that told the history of The Harlem Cultural Festival that took place in1969. One of the stories that stood out to me was that of the Great Mahalia Jackson, an icon in gospel music. In this story, Mavis Staples was asked to sing a song Mahalia was expected to deliver. Mavis talks of the honor and how she wanted to perform given her idol had asked her. What a moment! It was a passing of the baton in some respects. It was the intentional sharing of a platform. What it really offered was a glimpse into what it’s like when a person empowers someone else. This happens every day in business. It is not always in plain sight and not done enough for women, but perhaps it should be.
Studies have shown that not enough women – compared to male counterparts – have enough opportunities to develop and nurture professional relationships that would enable a senior leader to feel comfortable with using their platform to help them grow. Acknowledging and addressing this challenge is one way that we can #BreakTheBias.
We have to ask ourselves: When thinking about #BreakingTheBias, how do you share your platform? Who do you empower? With some intention, could you change someone’s trajectory and life? And if you can (and you can), when will you? What will it take? When will you do it?
To #BreaktheBias, we also need to empower ourselves and each other. It doesn’t mean that we don’t need men to help. We surely do. What I am saying is, let’s not make that our primary focus. We can build each other up with what we have. We can sponsor each other – share our access with someone else and #BreakTheBias by adding our voices and people to the stage. And when we get to the stage, we keep the momentum going by continuing to add voices and presence. Sponsorship is a game-changer. Let’s use it.