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Advancing Women of Color: A Sponsorship Issue. An Equity Issue.

Hospital C-suites and boards struggle with increasing diversity and representing our communities from gender and race perspectives.


Part of the issue is that people of color tend to be over-mentored and under-sponsored. Having a sponsor at work can be transformational in your career, especially for women of color like myself. Research from the Center for Talent Innovation indicates that professionals of color with a sponsor were 57% less likely to have plans to quit their job within a year in comparison to professionals of color without a sponsor.


However, issues continue to exist with access to sponsorship. McKinsey and’s 2019 Women in the Workplace study states that black women and women with disabilities face more barriers to advancement, get less support from managers, and receive less sponsorship than other groups of women. In talks within my sister circles and with peers from underrepresented groups, many have shared struggles in successfully finding and securing a sponsor.


As an executive in healthcare, I want to do my part in changing this paradigm. I believe it is my fundamental responsibility to advocate for women of color to gain the same access to sponsors as white women and men, and I wholeheartedly believe that there are other executives like me and allies that are willing to do the same.


My big, hairy, audacious goal is to sponsor 100 women of color in healthcare by 2030.


When I say sponsor, I mean advancing the careers of the women I sponsor. This includes nominating women of color for industry awards to gain visibility, serving as an advocate for the next executive role to strengthen the talent pipeline, and celebrating the achievements of women of color in public and in private. It means utilizing my network to make warm introductions to women of color that are making an impact in healthcare.


I believe that advancing women of color is not a pipeline issue, but a sponsorship issue. It is an equity issue. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, black women will not receive full pay equity compared to white men until 2130 at the current pace.


It takes bold leadership combined with grit to do our part and change these outcomes.


If you are willing to take this pledge or a version of it, follow these simple actions:

  • Become an inclusive leader and educate yourself about the lived experiences of women of color in the workplace.
  • Challenge yourself and check your biases, both conscious and unconscious.
  • Share your stories of sponsoring women of color on social media using #100×2030.
  • Take a personal pledge to sponsor women of color and post on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram).


The time is now, and we have much work to accomplish, but the future is bright for women of color in healthcare. Let’s change the dialogue and accelerate diverse leadership through active sponsorship.


Excerpted from “Why I’m Sponsoring 100 Women of Color in Healthcare by 2030“)