How To Sponsor your coworkers as their Ally

Secret Sponsor Program

We are kicking off a pilot of a “Secret Sponsor” program on September 24, 2021. This is a going-away gift from Nimisha to folx in her organization and anyone else interested. The operation of it (mapping people to each other) is akin to “Secret Santa” events that some people participate in during the holidays.

As a member of the program, you will have 2 secret sponsors assigned from within the program and 2 sponsorees of your own. In other words, each member will have 4 direct connections, know about only 2 of them, and with indirection connections to everyone else in the program.

A few details:

  • Timing: The expectation is to continue your sponsorship from the time you acknowledge receipt of your assignments until the end of December 2021.

  • Who: Each member will have 1 sponsor from their same timezone and 1 sponsor from their proximate team.

What are specific things you can do at edX as a secret sponsor?

  1. Respond to their slack posts so they feel heard and feel encouraged to post again in the future.

  2. Recognize them for their work, even when they are not in the room.

  3. Amplify their voice in a meeting by giving them credit for their thought and building upon it.

What does it mean to be a Sponsor for someone?

While typically the role of a “sponsor” has been requested of people of higher privilege in an organization, there are still many opportunities for each and every one of us, regardless of our level, to advocate for others and amplify their voices.

Unlike a mentor who is known to you and acts as a teacher and coach, a sponsor looks out for you, roots for you, and recognizes your efforts. A sponsor who has a higher responsibility in the organization with higher influence can be very influential in accelerating someone’s career. However, I also claim that a grassroots combined effort on sponsoring each other as allies can:

  • amplify others' voices

  • let others know what their strengths are

  • give others the confidence to go out of their comfort zone and make mistakes