Why Women's Leadership Needs Championing More Than Mentoring

When it comes to advancing women in leadership positions, mentoring has long been seen as a crucial tool for helping them navigate the obstacles they may face in their careers. However, a growing number of experts are arguing that mentoring alone may not be enough – what women need are champions.

While mentoring can provide guidance and support, it often focuses on the individual. It can reinforce existing power structures by connecting women with people already established in their field. Conversely, championing involves actively advocating for and promoting women, both within and outside of an organization. It’s a more active, strategic approach to supporting women’s leadership that can greatly impact their career trajectories.

Here are a few reasons why championing may be the key to unlocking women’s leadership potential:

  1. Champions can help women build their networks. Champions can help women make connections and build relationships with influential people in their field, which can be crucial for advancing their careers. One of the biggest challenges women face in leadership is breaking into the “old boys’ club” – the tight-knit network of powerful men who dominate many industries.
  2. Champions can help women get noticed. In many organizations, women’s contributions can go unnoticed or underappreciated. Champions can help ensure that women get the recognition they deserve for their hard work and achievements. They can also speak up on women’s behalf when opportunities arise, such as promotions or speaking engagements.
  3. Champions can help women overcome bias. Unfortunately, unconscious bias is still a significant barrier for many women in leadership. Champions can help counteract bias by advocating for women, promoting their strengths, and challenging negative perceptions.
  4. Champions can help women break through the glass ceiling. Ultimately, the goal of championing is to help women break through the glass ceiling and reach the highest levels of leadership. By actively promoting women and advocating for their advancement, champions can help level the playing field and create a more equitable workplace for everyone.

Of course, championing is not a magic solution – there are still many systemic barriers that need to be addressed to truly advance women’s leadership. However, by shifting the focus from individual mentorship to strategic, active support, we may be able to make a real difference in the lives and careers of women across industries.