Sponsors Play Key Role in Advancing Women to CEO Level

By Kathy Gurchiek, originally posted on SHRM.org (Society for Human Resource Management) on November 29, 2017. 

Women who are chief executive officers typically did not see themselves in that role until a supervisor, mentor or sponsor urged them to seek the position.

That is among the key findings of Women CEOs Speak, a new report from the Korn Ferry Institute based on extensive interviews with 57 current and former female chief executives in the U.S. and psychometric assessments with two-thirds of the study participants.

Korn Ferry conducted the study to learn what qualities drive the women who make up 6.4 percent of U.S. CEOs. It conducted its research from February to July 2017 with 38 current and 19 former CEOs. Among participants, 23 are or were at Fortune 500 companies, 18 are or were at Fortune 1000 companies, and 16 are or were at privately held companies.

The findings point to the importance of sponsors and mentors in preparing women for leadership positions.