PRESS RELEASE: Greg Rusedski launches breakthrough mentoring scheme for people working in sport

A pioneering scheme to level the playing field for sports professionals was launched yesterday at the Lawn Tennis Association.

The sport and business mentoring scheme, managed by Women Ahead in partnership with the 30% Club, matches senior managers at Ricoh with leaders at the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) as they reach the middle of their careers.

Former British number 1 tennis player Greg Rusedski helped launch the scheme at an event at the LTA in Roehampton yesterday, before hosting a knock-about with the participants.

He said: “Mentoring plays a key role for an individual’s development in all walks of life. In my journey as a tennis player, I had a number of different mentors, both on and off the court. It was those mentors who helped shape my career and allowed me to achieve the things I did. I now enjoy working with and mentoring the younger generation where I try to impart my knowledge and expertise to hopefully build success for British Tennis in the future.”

A cohort of 40 people have been matched in the Ricoh - LTA mentoring programme which will run until December. It is designed to develop the pipeline and parity of women and men in leadership roles in sport.

Liz Dimmock, founder and CEO of Women Ahead said: “We’re thrilled to have brought Ricoh and the LTA together. In the middle of their careers, women’s aspirations can plummet. Mentoring helps professionals get over this speed bump and raise their game back up to their true potential. Mentors tell us they learn about the issues being faced by high potential women and the issues likely being faced by women in their own organisation.

The scheme breaks new ground by offering sportswomen and men mentors from the business world, not from sport. Women Ahead believes that whatever your career, you will always benefit greatly from meeting people who have different ways of seeing the world and tackling problems.”

In 2014, only 0.4% of commercial sports sponsorship went to women. Female sports received just 5% of media coverage. UK sporting boards were heavily led by men, with just 22% of roles taken by women. There were six governing sports bodies with no female representation at all.

The 30% Club, a group of chairs and CEOs committed to better gender balance through voluntary action, is extending its business mentoring scheme into the world of sport. This is delivered on their behalf by Women Ahead.

The scheme carefully matches high potential women and men in sport with male or female top tier executives. The pairs meet in person or by telephone every four to six weeks, and they attend a series of learning and networking events to support the nine-month long process.

Michael Downey, LTA Chief Executive said: “Investing in our workforce is a key priority for the future of the LTA and we are very fortunate to be working with Ricoh and Women Ahead, who are as passionate about the importance of mentoring as we are. It's great to see our sponsorship with Ricoh, which has been in place since 2012 broaden, to see them assist us through what is already a successful mentoring programme. Being able to offer this special opportunity to hone, grow and develop our talent and support them in becoming leaders in our business is a great opportunity for all involved.”

Chas Moloney, marketing director, Ricoh UK & Ireland said: “Ricoh is an organisation that is committed to making positive change, and we value partnerships that drive inclusion in the workplace. Through our collaboration with Women Ahead and the 30% Club, we hope to empower more women to achieve their full potential in sport by inspiring new perspectives and ways of working. It is our firm belief that greater parity between men and women in the workplace is not only essential for individual growth, but also wider industry and society as a whole.”

In 2014, only 0.4% of commercial sports sponsorship went to women. Female sports received just 5% of media coverage. UK sporting boards were heavily led by men, with just 22% of roles taken by women. There were six governing sports bodies with no female representation at all.

The 30% Club, a group of chairs and CEOs committed to better gender balance through voluntary action, is extending its business mentoring scheme into the world of sport. This is delivered on their behalf by Women Ahead.

The scheme carefully matches high potential women and men in sport with male or female top tier executives. The pairs meet in person or by telephone every four to six weeks, and they attend a series of learning and networking events to support the nine-month long process.

Tracey Crouch MP, Minister for Sport said about the scheme: “I want to see more women leading our sports organisations, providing vision and shaping the sporting landscape. Mentoring is a key tool in achieving this goal and benefits both mentors and mentees in developing their confidence and capabilities. That’s why Women Ahead is such a fantastic organisation. We need more intelligent, capable, passionate women leading sport in this country.”

Companies and sports organisations that would like to find out more about the scheme can contact Liz Dimmock at Women Ahead on 01189 406828 or liz@women-ahead.org.