Patrons & Protégées

Program Objective: Enhance high-potential women’s opportunity for career growth, visibility, recognition, retention, engagement and promotion

Why Implement a Partnership Program

  • 34% of mid-level positions are held by women, yet only

7.6% of top corporate earners are women
14.4% of executive officer positions are held by women
3% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women
In the C-suite, women are outnumbered 4 to 1
7.6% of Fortune 500 top earner positions are held by women

  • Women with a sponsor/patron are more likely to ask for help in closing a business deal, landing a job or new role
  • Women do not naturally build their professional network with people who will help them advance their career – a sponsor or patron will help them change this dynamic within their network
  • Who you know is more important than what you know for multiple outcomes including innovation and career success
  • Networks and sponsors give access to special assignments, exposure opportunities, open doors and engage participants

(Sources: Development Dimensions International, Human Resource Executive,

Patron/Protégée Program Approach

Our program leverages the best of sponsorship programs, and removes any concerns participants have about asking for a sponsor, or being turned down when asking for support.

  • The HR/talent group selects Protégées and potential Patrons
  • A kick off session will cover the differences between mentoring relationships and the Patron/Protégée Program and the goals of the program – and answer any questions
  • Patrons (senior leaders) are assigned to support a woman Protégée who can be a person they know or someone who is assigned from the Protégée group
  • While the program is high touch, the time commitment from Patrons is 10- 12 hours per year and it can be done completely virtually if needed
  • Quarterly assignments and meetings with Patron/Protégée pairs follow a specific recommended agenda with development exercises provided in advance of meetings – maximizing everyone’s time and ensuring all pairs move through the program productively

Program Measures of Success

  • Increased engagement, retention, rotation and advancement of Protégés
  • Positive qualitative feedback from Patrons and Protégés
  • Mindset shift at the executive level regarding importance of being a Patron and understanding women’s issues
  • Increased women’s representation at top levels

Expected Outcomes Based on Similar Existing Programs

While every company culture is different, and buy-in is required from senior leadership and the talent organization or HR for this program to succeed, the results are well worth the effort.

Program results are tracked over an 18-month period and results begin happening as early as six months from the program start. 

For more information, please contact Kim Steppe.