Mentorship and sponsorship play vital roles in advancing diverse talent in the workplace. By understanding their distinct contributions and the positive impact they have on creating an inclusive environment, employers and team members can take practical steps to support colleagues from diverse backgrounds. As we commemorate Juneteenth, it is crucial to reflect on the importance of diversity and the ongoing journey toward equality and inclusion.

As a partner at GHJ and sponsor of the Firm’s BIPOC Cohort, I have always been a strong advocate for supporting colleagues from diverse backgrounds. In over 20 years in Corporate America, I have found myself being the only Black man in the room many times. I experienced firsthand the importance of having mentors and sponsors who helped me navigate the challenges and opportunities that came my way — and those mentors and sponsors often did not look like me or share my experiences.

Having mentors and sponsors from different backgrounds has been instrumental in my career development. They have provided me with guidance, advice and opportunities that I may not have had access to otherwise and championed me in rooms where I was not present to ensure my talents and potential were recognized and valued. These individuals have not only believed in my potential but have also opened doors for me and helped me grow professionally.

By embracing the spirit of Juneteenth and fostering mentorship and sponsorship, we can continue to support and uplift diverse talent, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to excel in their careers.


Mentorship is essential for career growth as it provides a supportive and encouraging environment for individuals to learn and develop their skills. Mentors offer valuable insights, share their experiences and provide constructive feedback that can help mentees navigate their career paths more effectively. Harvard Business Review found that mentorship programs boost the representation of Black, Hispanic and Asian American women and Hispanic and Asian American men by 9 to 24 percent.

Sponsorship, on the other hand, is about actively advocating for someone's career advancement and creating opportunities for them to showcase their talents and skills. Sponsors use their influence and networks to support and promote their protégés and help them to reach their full potential and advance in their careers. Payscale found that Black women with a sponsor earn 5.1 percent more than Black women without one.

These two roles can go hand in hand, and both can help a person in their personal development.


When it comes to diversity and inclusion, having mentors and sponsors from different backgrounds is crucial. They bring unique perspectives, experiences and insights that can help individuals from underrepresented groups navigate any workplace challenges. This support fosters a more inclusive and equitable work environment.

As the BIPOC Cohort sponsor at GHJ, I am committed to championing and supporting my colleagues from diverse backgrounds. In my role as GHJ Search and Staffing Practice Leader, I collaborate with business leaders who share this commitment.

Embracing diversity and inclusion through mentorship and sponsorship is essential to building a more equitable workplace. Supporting colleagues from different backgrounds helps them feel valued, supported and empowered to reach their full potential. Let us continue to champion and uplift one another and creates a workplace where everyone has the opportunity to excel.


Mentorship and sponsorship are powerful tools in advancing career development, especially for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds. Fostering these relationships can create a more inclusive and equitable work environment. In your own workplace, be sure to:

  • Recognize the Distinction: Understand that mentorship provides guidance and support, while sponsorship involves actively advocating for someone's career advancement. Both roles are essential and can work together to promote growth and success.
  • Seek and Offer Diverse Mentorship: Encourage a culture where employees seek mentors from diverse backgrounds to gain different perspectives and insights. Similarly, offer mentorship to colleagues who may not share your experiences to foster mutual growth.
  • Be an Active Sponsor: Use your influence and network to advocate for the advancement of your protégés. Ensure their talents and potential are recognized in rooms where they may not be present.
  • Implement Structured Programs: Develop formal mentorship and sponsorship programs within your organization. Provide training for mentors and sponsors to maximize the effectiveness of these relationships.
  • Promote an Inclusive Culture: Create an environment where all employees feel valued and supported. Address discrimination, subtle exclusion and microaggressions to promote well-being.
  • Champion Diversity and Inclusion: Continuously advocate for and support diversity and inclusion initiatives. Encourage your colleagues to join you in these efforts to build a workplace where everyone can excel.

By embracing these principles, you can help create a workplace that not only values diversity but actively supports the growth and development of all employees. By working together to champion and uplift one another, professional environments can be more inclusive and equitable.

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Derrick Coleman

Derrick Coleman has more than 20 years business experience and is the Practice Leader of GHJ Search and Staffing, GHJ’s recruiting division. Search and Staffing specializes in the placement of accounting and finance professionals into temporary and permanent positions across a broad range of…Learn More