Mentorship has long been a part of the DNA of A+E Networks. Programs like the Big Sisters program, the Executive Women’s Forum and the Multicultural Advisory Council have been committed to individual and group mentorship, personal coaching and diversity and inclusion efforts since their inception. But A+E’s commitment to mentoring was elevated even higher in the spring of 2018 when a number of female executives who had graduated from WICT’s Betsy Magness Leadership Institute program got together to discuss how they could pay it forward to rising leaders. They wanted to create a program to identify and retain high potential female employees. And so Spark! was born.
The mission of Spark! is to facilitate meaningful long-term relationships between a mentor and mentee with the goal of closely collaborating with the mentee to establish, work toward and achieve developmental goals. Diversity and inclusion were major priorities as was cross-company inclusion. The first year of the program culminated in a formal graduation for the 26 mentees, and nine of the 26 mentees in the first Spark! program were promoted within a year of participating in the program. After seeing the success of the first year, A+E decided to fully fund Spark! and now provides full resource support to the initiative.
After holding conversations and gathering feedback, Spark! began refining its plans to ensure that the program would be even more robust in the future. Mentors have been specifically assigned to each A+E department to help facilitate the selection process and expansion to all domestic A+E offices.