Men Who Open Doors 2020 Reunion


FountainBlue’s 2020 Men-Who-Open-Doors reunion meeting included three panels of male sponsors as well as the nominating women! Below are notes from the conversation.

Whether you were one of the honored men opening doors, or one of the women who nominated them, your efforts in creating and growing a community of sponsoring male leaders are critical to perpetuating this great cause.

We are in agreement that championing more diverse leaders and innovators can do everything from helping us all be more creative and more innovative to helping us ALL be more human and more sensitive; from helping us ALL be more communicative to helping us ALL be better decision-makers and problem solvers.

Indeed, our sponsoring executives agreed that having teams of people with diverse backgrounds make for better shorter term and longer term results, as proven not only qualitatively and quantitatively by volumes of industry data, but also from their direct personal and professional experience.

Each sponsoring executive has a different driver for perpetuating the cause. They have each had role models which showed them the ‘why’ and helped them find the ‘how’, while communicating the benefits in a way which made sense to others.

And each sponsoring executive developed strategies and plans which addressed the immediate and longer-term personal and business challenges. 

They each also remarked on how the most successful sponsored leaders were the ones who were most engaged, the ones with the most initiative, the ones with the most openness, and the ones who were most appreciative – regardless of gender or background.

Below is a compilation of best practices they shared for driving more sponsorship within and throughout an organization.

  • It is a journey, not a destination. Celebrate your progress and keep building on your successes.
  • Create communities, model the way and share your best practices.
  • Speak openly about your successes, your challenges and your strategies. 
  • Companies who are consistently aligned in thoughts, words and actions from the top-down, from the bottom-up will make more progress more quickly. 
  • It’s easy to get tired of initiatives which take a long time to change – like moving the needle in terms of gender equity and diverse workforce representation. But focusing on the positive progress and managing things like Gender fatigue will lead to improved results.
  • Leaky pipes are an issue – help women and men with diverse background stay the course, be confident, and make forward strides, especially when they are discouraged by inequities.
  • When you embrace women into teams at all levels, you may find that they may be more empathetic about the personal needs of the team, while also addressing the technical, business and operational challenges.
  • Regardless of gender, background and other inclinations, help your people be more confident that they can succeed even with reach-goals. It’s good for them, good for their teams and good for the organization.

We closed with an interesting perspective – one that we hope will give everyone a reason to embrace Sponsorship of women and others with diverse backgrounds in 2021:

  • A more diverse team will be more creative, more persistent, and more resourceful in dealing with a future that we can’t predict – our next normal.

See the light. Be the light. Spread the light.


Harvard Business Review, Dec 2020: Why Aren’t We Making More Progress Toward Gender Equity


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