“Surround yourself with people who would mention you in a room full of opportunities.” It’s a quote we’ve seen often, and I can’t think of a better one to kick off my first blog of 2023 as I revisit and expand on the ABCs of Sponsorship concepts of Amplifying, Boosting, and Connecting, adding a “D” component, Defending.

Amplifying in the context of sponsorship involves being aware of and talking up the accomplishments of a protégée with others to create, or to increase, others’ positive impressions of them. This can be impactful whether or not the individual is already in the room. The amplification of another’s voice and/or idea lends power and impact to how, and whether, that individual is heard and recognized for their contributions.

Boosting involves nominating another for a specific opportunity and attesting to their potential. This increases the opportunities and expectations for advancement for someone who may not already be on the radar of decision-makers in the process. In an industry that has historically been underrepresented by women and minorities in leadership ranks, this is particularly important to move the needle on the diversity of candidates being considered for development and advancement.

Connecting is the introduction of a protégée to high-ranking and influential people via important meetings and events. This exposes the individual to new experiences, new ideas and new relationships that they may otherwise not have access to. Additionally, this gives credibility to the individual by nature of you as their sponsor being willing to personally stake your influence and impression with the invitation.

Defending is the act of standing up for someone who isn’t in the room to defend themselves. Defending is the sponsorship equivalent of justifying or making personal votes of confidence in an attempt to change others’ perceptions from negative to positive. Defending is particularly important for women who may be judged in biased ways in an organization that traditionally lacks diversity in leadership.

As sponsors we are in a position to use our social capital and influence to lift up those who might otherwise go unnoticed. Sponsorship is a personal action that all of us can take to help increase diversity, equity and inclusion in our profession.

What are some simple things that you can you do to be a sponsor to a woman in our profession?

  • Amplify a woman’s voice on professional social media channels.
  • Boost a woman by nominating her when a position she is qualified for opens up in your company or professional circles, or a board you serve on.
  • Connect a woman to decision-makers and influencers by inviting her to an important event that you are speaking at or attending.
  • Defend a woman and her accomplishments when she is not in the room to defend herself.

Toni Gonzales, MBA, LACP is a Divisional Vice President at Ameritas and the WIFS National President.