To provide the leadership qualities of elite sportswomen a new environment in which to flourish after their sporting careers end, EY, in partnership with the International Women’s Forum, has set up a mentoring programme. In the programme, 25 sportswomen will be paired with top business women with the aim of helping the ex-sports toppers become thought leaders.
One of the things the public doesn’t often consider is the lot of the myriad of elite sports women after their sporting careers have stumbled over the last hurdle. Whether world champion or coming in second, not every elite contender is able to or wants to live out their days on their track record. And, after their sports careers have reached the wall, another high flying purpose may be grasped – yet getting there is not often a clearly marked out track.
To help light the way between sport and elite work life, EY set up its “Women Athletes Business Network” whose aim is to guide elite post-career sports women into leadership roles. According to the consulting firm, elite sports women are “by nature, high achievers, influential leaders and team players — ones who can make an impact, not only on the next generation of women in sport, but also within their communities and the world around them.” This is backed by its research that shows that sport participation is elemental in building leadership skills as well as team-building skills and by the fact that 94% of women executives have a background in sports.
To further the programme, set up to unlock the pre- business potential in elite sports women, EY recently partnered with the International Women’s Forum (IWF) to give a select group of 25 former elite athletes the opportunity to be mentored by some of the world’s most illustrious business women. The mentors include CEOs, lawyers, entrepreneurs and other influential leaders across the International Women’s Forum’s membership, all well versed in transitioning into leadership roles, having themselves made the transition.
Explaining the reason for the mentor scheme, Beth Brooke-Marciniak, EY’s Global Vice Chair of Public Policy, says: “Women need to be able to visualise the path forward to pursue these top positions – not only in the corporate world, but as entrepreneurs, government and not-for-profit leaders. This is why EY’s Women Athletes Business Network mentoring program is so powerful. By helping athletes understand how they can translate their unique skills gained through sport into impactful positions outside of sport, our IWF mentors can light the way and help shape these inspiring women into influential future leaders.” Marilyn Johnson, CEO International Women’s Forum, adds: “The IWF is dedicated to building better global leadership and is proud to collaborate with EY to support and mentor the first-ever cohort of the Women Athletes Business Network (WABN). This strategic alliance will help guide and nurture these rising women leaders through an important professional transition.”
Besides mentorship, EY will continue taking an active role in supporting the leadership development of the women, by helping them connect with EY’s internal and external global business networks. EY’s commitment to support the transition of women into the upper echelons of business is highlighted with the launch of ‘Women. Fast forward’, project, which aims “to draw attention to the global gender gap issue and to call on others to accelerate change along with us.”
Other supporting schemes
Sports women are not the only group that EY is supporting into the business world, the firm also has an active military recruitment programme aimed at supporting ex-service personnel into the workplace.