Grow your talent with sponsorship

Cultivate is the only sponsorship program in Australia that is based on research to create cultural change


Build leadership readiness and gender equality


Designed to build and nuture sponsorship relationship


Attract and retain the best people

Cultivate is not like other programs

Cultivate provides support for up to twelve months, to ensure the changes to your business are enduring

  • Informal “sponsorship” of employees happens naturally in companies, but male leaders tend to take an interest in the career progression of younger men
  • Cultivate is a program that gives business leaders the tools to build strategic alliances with women
  • Guided by a carefully curated seven month program, Sponsors and sponsored employees form a genuine and trusting connection
  • In the long-term, businesses see cultural change – and improve their ability to attract and retain talented women.

What is sponsorship?

Sponsorship is a strategic alliance between a senior leader and an emerging leader.

Sponsors believe and invest in the careers of emerging leaders by giving them access to opportunity, supporting their skill development and advocating for them.

When emerging leaders are recognised and supported, they add value to the company.

As Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s longest serving Sex Discrimination Commissioner described it:

“When I look back on my own career, it was decent, beautiful men who informally sponsored me. They showed me the rules of the game. That’s what helped me build my career. It wasn’t the only thing, but it helped me.”

Why Sponsorship Works


We know that women aspire to be senior leaders, but often progression depends on sponsorship, which can be hard to access.
Informal sponsorship networks tend to favour men. 9 in 10 women do not feel confident to seek out a sponsor.


86% of women report that when they see more women in leadership, they believe they can get there too.

83% of women understand their own career progression will affect the next generation of women.

Why Cultivate gets results

Cultivate was built for organisations that want to make a difference on gender equality and understand that real change doesn’t happen overnight.

It’s built on research

Dr Natalie Galea, the gender equality expert:

“There has been decades of research into gender equality, but businesses are not necessarily seeing results from the programs and targets they are putting in place.

Cultivate is for businesses that are looking for a program backed by research that will help them attract talented women and see them progress into leadership.

Our program came about after my research into what had worked for men’s career progression but wasn’t talked about, and one of those things was informal networks of sponsorship.

Cultivate is not just another mentoring or women’s leadership program. It’s not an exercise in raising awareness of the problem, because we already know enough about that.

It’s not about fixing women – it’s about providing the tools to change behaviour and workplace culture and putting knowledge into action.”

It changes behaviour

Katriina Tahka, the human resources expert:

“If the leaders in your company do something different for seven months, then you have changed behaviour, and you’re on your way to changing culture.

Cultivate supports businesses until sponsorship becomes a natural part of their culture.

Our program creates possibilities, nurtures potential and builds empathy in leaders.

The research shows that women are attracted to companies where they can see women in positions ahead of them.

But businesses in male-dominated sectors are still having a hard time recruiting women, and we’ve all heard the expression “you can’t be what you can’t see”.

Too many women end up in the “lost lands” – unable to see the career path ahead of them.

Cultivate is laying the pavement for women’s progression, by giving business leaders an active role in their career development.

And because it involves leaders, and doesn’t leave them on the sidelines, Cultivate is about building a leadership legacy that strengthens the business in the long term.”

Supported by research

  • Research demonstrates that whilst men and women access professional development programs; progression to leadership roles often depends on sponsorship, which women have a hard time accessing.

    (Galea, N., et al. 2016. Demolishing gender structures. UNSW. Sydney, UNSW.)

  • Research tells us that a sponsorship program targeted at emerging women leaders and owned by senior management is a necessary strategy to overcome biases and systemic barriers to womens advancement.

    (Hewlett SA., et al. 2010. The Sponsor Effect: Breaking through the last glass ceiling. Centre for Work-Life Policy)

  • Progressive companies recognise that creating a transparent, more equitable system of sponsorship boosts the company's ability to utlilse the whole talent pool.

    (KPMG Women’s Leadership Study: Moving Women Forward in Leadership Roles, 2015)

What people say about Cultivate

Alison Mirams, CEO, Roberts Pizzarotti

“My career was built by a sponsor. I never had to ask for a promotion because my sponsor brought me along with him as his own career advanced. He pushed me to achieve more than I ever thought I could."

Nina Kilpinen, Managing Director, Seed Engineering

“I have seen a lot of initiatives that purport to help women, but don’t. Cultivate is a program that genuinely boosts women’s careers and makes a difference to businesses."

Phil Garling, ASX and Government Company Board Director

“What companies need to understand is that you can have gender targets and succession planning, but you also need to have a strategy behind them. Cultivate is a strategy to support targets and succession planning."

Are you ready to grow your talent with sponsorship?
Get in touch!