Diverse Professionals Sponsorship Initiative (DPSI)
Goldman Sachs recognised that whilst there had been significant progress on gender balanced graduate recruitment and an increase in absolute numbers of women at senior levels, there needed to be more focus on proportionate representation of female managing directors and partners. Research shows that sponsorship serves as an effective intervention to accelerate career trajectory; however men are 46% more likely to have a sponsor than women and are more likely to cultivate informal sponsor-like relationships. DPSI was launched in 2012 to establish sponsor relationships to support the development and career progression of high-performing female, black and LGBT vice presidents (VPs) in EMEA.
High-performing diverse VPs with near to mid-term progression potential are nominated by divisional leaders for inclusion in DPSI. Following nomination, HR partners work with managers to identify a suitable sponsor. The intention is to build on existing business relationships and assign a sponsor who can be an ally to the manager, influence key stakeholders and advocate for the participant.
Sponsor relationships are initiated with 1:1 meetings to introduce the concept and discuss the participant’s role, performance, platform for promotion and stretch opportunities, providing the sponsor with an understanding of how they can leverage their network and support the participant. A comprehensive toolkit also provides resources such as definition of roles, talking points for the sponsor and participant, guidance for the manager on communicating with the participant and an action planning framework.
Managers proactively check in with participants and sponsors to discuss progress and share feedback, and HR provides ongoing guidance to managers and sponsors. Further accountability is driven through ongoing senior leadership engagement, including regular dialogue between managers and sponsors in respect of participants’ performance and sponsor contributions to promotion discussions.
Since the DPSI programme began, 97% of participants have been female, supported by 123 senior leaders and 12 HR business partners and talent development professionals.Between 2012-2015, 100% of women promoted to managing director participated in DPSI. Representation of women at managing director level has increased, and female promotes made up 27.5% of the 2015 managing director class, compared to 16% in 2013. Participant feedback highlights the benefits of visibility, broader networking opportunities, manager connectivity and career enhancement that DPSI offers, and many participants go on to become sponsors, creating a multiplier effect. Participants in Continental European offices also said DPSI gave them greater engagement, connectivity and visibility with senior stakeholders in London. Embedding a culture of sponsorship has resulted in greater engagement from divisional leadership and managers. Additional divisional efforts to complement DPSI include use of executive coaches, hi-potential talent reviews and accountability sessions.