The purpose of a Breakfast for Champions, which derives from my book, Sponsoring Women: What Men Need to Know, is to get more men engaged in sponsoring women for partnership, leadership and career advancement. Sponsorship is critical for advancement in firms and organizations. Most powerful people who are positioned to be sponsors are men, and most men sponsor other men. While most male leaders genuinely support policies and programs for women, they often overlook or avoid women for sponsorship. Women talk with each other about these issues through women’s initiatives and conferences but men do not have the same forums, nor is the issue of women’s advancement generally a top-of-mind topic for them. We need to bring men into the conversation, inform and encourage them, and get them involved on a personal level by sponsoring more women.
A Breakfast for Champions is designed to do this. Invitations are sent to men and women, and women are encouraged to invite men who are, should be or want to be sponsors for women. The objectives of the Breakfast are to:
Honor men who have successfully sponsored women
Highlight the importance of sponsorship for women
Distinguish sponsorship from mentorship
Make men comfortable discussing any concerns they may have about sponsoring women
Educate men about how to manage and overcome those concerns
Present examples and role models of successful male sponsors
Offer specific, concrete steps and strategies for sponsoring women
Here is a descriptive outline of a Breakfast for Champions:
Registration and breakfast
Introduction: What Sponsorship is and why it matters that men sponsor more women
Recognition of Champions – For 2-3 pairs of women and men:
A woman describes about how the man she wants to recognize helped advance her career
I ask the man a few questions based on what the woman said about him
I summarize a few key learning points based on what the woman and sponsor experienced together and said to the group
We move on to the next woman and her sponsor
Brainstorm at tables on ways to get more men personally engaged in sponsoring women
This outline is flexible and can be modified for particular audiences in any type of firm or organization.
If we have additional time, the program can also include a more structured presentation on sponsorship principles, best practices and pertinent topics such as unconscious bias.
A Breakfast for Champions is a fun, positive and energetic way to get across important points and encourage men to step up for women. In addition, we offer workshops, seminars and webinars on sponsorship that contain more substantive content, including some that are designed specifically for men.
If your firm or organization would like to host a Breakfast for Champions or another event about sponsorship, please contact me. And feel free to pass this information along to any groups or professional associations that might be interested.
Take a Little Action
Breakfast for Champions was featured in the 2015 Catalyst Grand Prize winning video "Take a Little Action" as a "little action" that has a big impact in getting men to be part of the solution to gender inequality.