EDI Strategies: The Pros and Cons of Advocacy and Sponsorship

EDI Strategies: The Pros and Cons of Advocacy and Sponsorship

07 Mar 2023

This informal CPD article, ‘EDI Strategies: The Pros and Cons of Advocacy and Sponsorship’, was provided by Chiedza Ikpeh, Director of RARA Education Project. RARA is a Black and Female-led organisation that is committed to facilitating safe learning and working environments where Black and Indigenous People of Colour (BIPOC) can advance, connect, and thrive in UK society.

In recent years, employers and equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) specialists have implemented various strategies to promote inclusion in their organizations, recognizing that diverse and inclusive workplaces have been linked to numerous benefits such as increased creativity, better decision-making, and improved financial performance.

Advocacy and sponsorship are two approaches used in the workplace to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Advocacy involves endorsing an employee who is otherwise marginalized or underrepresented, while sponsorship involves actively promoting and advocating for someone's career advancement. While these approaches can have benefits, they also come with potential drawbacks. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of advocacy and sponsorship in the workplace.

Pros of Advocacy and Sponsorship

Increases diversity

Advocacy and sponsorship can help increase diversity in the workplace by promoting the advancement of underrepresented groups. Research has shown that diversity can lead to better decision-making, improved innovation, and increased profitability. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity are 36% more likely to have above-average financial returns than those in the bottom quartile.

Builds strong relationships

Advocacy and sponsorship can help build strong relationships between mentors and mentees. A study published in the Academy of Management Journal found that mentorship relationships can increase job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and career success.

Encourages professional development

Advocacy and sponsorship can encourage professional development by providing guidance, feedback, and resources to help employees advance their careers. This can lead to increased job satisfaction, motivation, and engagement.

Create a workplace that is inclusive for all

Cons of Advocacy and Sponsorship

Unintended consequences

Advocacy and sponsorship can have unintended consequences, such as perpetuating bias and discrimination. Research has shown that when individuals from underrepresented groups receive advocacy or sponsorship, they may be perceived as having received special treatment, leading to resentment and negative perceptions from others in the workplace.

Potential for favouritism

Advocacy and sponsorship can also lead to favouritism if employees are chosen based on personal connections rather than merit. This can result in decreased morale and motivation among other employees who may feel that they are not receiving equal opportunities for advancement.

Can be time-consuming

Advocacy and sponsorship can be time-consuming for both mentors and mentees, potentially taking time away from other important work-related tasks. Additionally, some individuals may be reluctant to participate in advocacy or sponsorship programs due to concerns about the time commitment involved.

How should we utilise Sponsorship?

We can conclude that advocacy and sponsorship can have both benefits and drawbacks in the workplace. While these approaches can help increase diversity, build strong relationships, and encourage professional development, they can also have unintended consequences, lead to favouritism, and be time-consuming. Therefore, it is important for organizations to carefully consider the potential risks and benefits of these approaches and develop programs that are tailored to their specific needs and goals. By doing so, organizations can create a workplace that is equitable, inclusive, and supportive of all employees.

We hope you found this article helpful. For more information from RARA Education Project, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.


  • McKinsey & Company. (2015). Diversity Matters. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters
  • Ragins, B. R., & Verbos, A. K. (2007). Positive relationships in action: Relational mentoring and mentoring schemas in the workplace. Academy of Management Journal, 50(2), 377-393. doi: 10.5465/amj.2007.24634438
  • Ely, R. J., Ibarra, H., & Kolb, D. M. (2011). Taking gender into account: Theory and design for women’s leadership development programs. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 10(3), 474-493. doi: 10.5465/amle.2010.0057
  • Dobbin, F., Kalev, A., & Kelly, E. (2013). Diversity management and the social construction of “race” in the US workplace. Social Science & Medicine, 98, 126-133. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.09.003
  • Dobbin, F., & Kalev, A. (2016). Why doesn’t diversity training work?: The challenge for industry and academia. Anthropology Now, 8(2), 48-55. doi: 10.1080/19428200.2016.1208763

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