WERKIN is a company I built with my co-founder to bring tech-enabled sponsorship to global organisations. We are an LGBT+, women founded tech company. Before launching WERKIN, I built my career in financial services, where I was conflicted about the opportunities and satisfaction a career in finance gave me, while also seeing the lack of role models like me, a lesbian woman, at the top.
I knew I had to shift gears to change the system, and this meant stepping out of it and building a company to help underrepresented groups feel visible and supported in their careers.
I was conflicted about the opportunities and satisfaction a career in finance gave me, while also seeing the lack of role models like me, a lesbian woman, at the top.
Quality mentorship programs support career development. However, research shows that underrepresented groups, including women, have less access to mentors or informal sponsors. At WERKIN, we’re looking to democratise mentoring and sponsorship. We want to help more people get that mentorship experience. I myself am an active mentor, but I’m still being actively mentored by technology veterans who have been there and done it.
Research shows that underrepresented groups, including women, have less access to mentors or informal sponsors.
Beyond mentorship, it’s also about encouraging active sponsorship and connecting the dots for busy leaders to bring employees – particularly those from underrepresented groups – into the mix. While mentorship remains an important component of career development, sponsorship goes beyond the coaching and advice provided by mentors. Sponsors use their authority to actively advocate for and foster the careers of those they sponsor.
So what was the missing piece in making mentorship more accessible to underrepresented groups? Arguably, it was technology (or the lack of) that was holding back mentorship and sponsorship programs.
How can we use everyday technology, the kind we have in our social networks, to open up access to sustainable mentoring partnerships?
- Using technology to connect employees at various stages in their career – based on professional interests and goals – has the power to reduce bias in the workplace and in professional networks.
- More inclusive mentorship and sponsorship at global companies has the power to fuel more diversity at the top, bringing fresh perspectives to decision-making. Diversity is crucial because research shows that more diverse companies are also the more successful and profitable companies.
- At the end of the day, it’s about getting leaders on-board to create an environment where people feel truly comfortable about bringing their whole selves to work.
Diversity is crucial because research shows that more diverse companies are also more successful and profitable companies.
It’s important to encourage everyone to embrace that. The way you work needs to be inclusive if you’re going to create a healthy environment for everyone.
Hayley Sudbury, founder and CEO of WERKIN.