Defining the Building Blocks of Engagement Through Mentorship, Sponsorship, and Allyship

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

Helen Keller

“Together, we can do so much.” These words mean so much and apply to our families, classmates, teammates, colleagues, and more. 

Silhouette of people helping each other

Have you heard of the turnover tsunami or the great resignation? People are leaving their jobs faster now than ever – things are different in this post-covid world, and we have to adapt. 

Diversity and Belonging Lead to Increased Engagement

When working together to solve a problem, we care about the results, the outcome, and overall success. Employee engagement is key to success. The most successful teams are an amalgam of diverse individuals – background, culture, experiences, gender, race, physical abilities, and social awareness – who interact as a single unit to achieve a common goal.

There are various ways to categorize people for how they differ from one another, however, now more than ever, it’s essential to engage with others to find similarities, establish a common ground, and highlight overlapping interests to accelerate growth and expedite progress.

When team members don’t feel valued and lack a sense of belonging, they either look elsewhere for work, lose faith and motivation in their leaders & company, or both.

Any team that is building upon a foundation of trust and respect can collaborate effectively. When the aforementioned is a factual reality, it establishes a sense of belonging within the team. When leaders empower their teams, organizations can more easily align on the overall mission, to unlock increased productivity and performance –  there is little they cannot achieve. Add diversity of backgrounds to a team’s foundation, and the innovation will go through the roof.

If this is all so important and is the “key to success,” how do we make it happen?

 A recent Gallup study shared that “employee engagement is an even stronger predictor of performance during tough times such as economic recessions like we are in today.” Managers and senior leaders can establish a culture of cohesive collaboration with a few different engagement solutions.

Defining Mentorship, Sponsorship, and Allyship

Mentorship, sponsorship, and allyship are a few of the more popular solutions that have been evaluated for the last few years to better understand how to integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into our way of life. Talking about DEI is nice, but we all know that actions speak louder than words, and these tools help put DEI into practice, and it’s all part of the engagement puzzle (Forbes)! 


Mentorship is the process of sharing knowledge from a more experienced person to another individual looking to learn and grow in a specific area. Equally if not more critical, mentorship creates a bond of trust and well-being between individuals as both collectively navigate the future together.

Mentorship has changed since we migrated into this hybrid, “work-from-anywhere” world – it’s tough to find people willing to be mentors, and in-person networking practically evaporated for over a year. However, a May 2021 HBR article states that this is something every organization can benefit from; “mentorship helps individuals connect their deeper human motivations and values to their careers, and aligning these two will pay dividends to employers and employees alike.” 


Sponsorship takes the engagement process to the next level – leveraging social capital rather than only our time. This process can help organizations increase meaningful engagement to help break down diversity barriers and level the playing field to provide more equitable opportunities for all. Sponsorship is the process of making introductions and supporting individuals in a way that puts your name, brand, and reputation on the line. 


Allyship is the practice of bringing people together across differences and engaging across mixed borders. Pittsburgh, PA allyship expert Dr. Victoria Mattingly taught a Udemy course that explains allyship as a relationship between two people, “working together toward the shared goal of fairness, equity, and social justice.” We can think of this as a process that highlights what people do rather than who they are. “To be more specific, an ally is someone who uses their power and status to support and advocate for someone who doesn’t share a crucial part of their identity, for example, male allies for women, white allies for people of color, and straight allies for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Meaningful Engagement Comes from the Top

Mentorship, sponsorship, and allyship help bring diversity, equity, and inclusion to your group. We strive to build DEI into our lives. These efforts are innate in the ideal candidate, and it’s time to remind our folks about the “right way” to do things. Meaningful engagement has to be actively demonstrated by leaders as it acts as a catalyst from the top of the food chain and impacts all team members because teams follow their leaders. It helps when leadership requires 30 minutes of meaningful engagement weekly to allow time for cultivating growth and development when “business issues” aren’t the focus of the engagement. 

Paying it Forward

Given the nature of most companies in the United States where everything needed to be done “yesterday,” you may be asking why the ” busy leaders” take time to pay it forward and participate. Here are the core reasons:

  1. It’s the right thing to do 
  2. Helping others build self-worth which is at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy 
  3. People learn in each conversation, and reverse mentorship presents the opportunity for valid give and take for both people in each engagement. 
  4. Helping others and doing good deeds releases dopamine and oxytocin, which leads to a healthier lifestyle for all of us.  
  5. Establishing trust and respect and helping others on an ongoing basis releases oxytocin which takes the “feel-good feeling” to the next level – explained in the image below. 
Chart depicting the key features of Dopamine, Oxytocin, Endorphin and Seratonin related to increase employee engagement

When we make people feel good and help them feel accomplished, they receive a surge of dopamine. Coupling the reward chemical with increased oxytocin levels throughout ongoing relationships reduces stress. It can eliminate worry, which reduces the chance of mental illness, especially when about 80% of doctor visits each year are due to self-inflicted pressure. Engagement mitigates and actively addresses mental wellness issues. 

Ready for a Change?

Are you ready to take the next step? Reach out to the team at Lattus, PHRA or your local SHRM group to learn what people are doing in your area. We are all in this together, and it’s about us! Together we can achieve beyond our wildest expectations.

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