The Importance of Mentoring and Sponsoring

Barbary Brunner, CEO

Barbary Brunner, CEO

I had the pleasure of being asked by the Austin Business Journal to be part of the mentor team at their Bizwomen Mentoring Monday this month. It’s an event done in partnership with 42 other American City Business Journals featuring more than 1,720 women business leader mentors and almost 10,000 women in business seeking advice.

I was honored to be part of a group of 40 amazing and brilliant women, many of them members of the ATC community, including April Downing (WP Engine), Mini Kahlon (Dell Medical School), Abby Payne (SailPoint), Lisa Pearson (Umbel), Jennifer Poppe (Vinson & Elkins), Jan Ryan, Michele Skelding, and Ellen Wood (VCFO). It’s an opportunity for each of us to help other women move forward in their careers, something we are all deeply invested in. By now, we have all read the statistics that show that increasing the number of women on your product and brand teams increases employee and customer satisfaction, that more women in the C-Suite and on the Board increase financial performance. But tech still suffers from an astonishing amount of gender imbalance and overt chauvinism. We are all shocked by what we’ve read about the treatment of female engineers at Uber, but almost every woman in tech has a story of her own.

The only way to make sure that tech is a welcoming place for women is to ensure that leaders are involved in looking out for and correcting behavior that undermines female employees, creating a culture where women know that they are free to bring issues forward, where they are rewarded for having the same drive and passion that we value in our rock-star male employees. Human Resources plays an important role, but the Senior Leadership Team must talk the talk and walk the walk.

Mentoring is critical, sponsorship is even better. If you are a tech executive, I challenge you to find a talented and promising woman in your company to sponsor. Make it your mission to ensure that she gets a seat at the right tables, gets introduced to people who can advise her and inspire her, that you help her strategize a way through the roadblocks in the way of her success. I guarantee that the impact of your doing this will be exponential and reach far beyond just the one woman you sponsor.