PRESS RELEASE: Unique mentoring programme launched to advance and empower women in sport

London, 7th October 2014.

At an event hosted at Google’s UK headquarters, with a panel including Victoria Pendleton CBE and Helena Morrissey CBE, Women Ahead -a team of global experts in coaching, mentoring and leadership development- launch a flagship mentoring programme that offers businesses the unique opportunity to support and inspire a new generation of sportswomen by providing mentors for female professional athletes, and for women in leadership roles in the sporting world.

In connecting senior businesspeople with women in sport, Women Ahead’s mentoring programme is the first of its kind, and will enable sportswomen to benefit from the knowledge, experience and wisdom gained by leaders in the world of commerce. There are a wealth of perspectives and insights that can be shared between the world of business and sport, and structured, effective mentoring -particularly for women- generates two-way learning, improves career progression and increases confidence.

A senior cabinet member will kick off the event, and a panel of experts from the worlds of sport and business will share their views and thoughts on bringing the two fields together.  

The panel includes:

  • Victoria Pendleton CBE - Britain’s most successful female Olympian and 9x World Champion
  • Helena Morrissey CBE - CEO Newton Investment Management and Founder, The 30% Club
  • Professor David Clutterbuck -: Globally-recognised authority on mentoring
  • Ruth Holdaway - CEO, Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation

Despite significant progress in recent years, women seeking careers in sport still face hurdles that don’t exist for men. In 2012, just 0.4% of UK sports sponsorship was invested in women’s sport, and on the global stage some of the world’s largest sporting events, like the Tour de France, are still closed to female competitors. Women Ahead believe that in addition to lobbying and raising awareness of bias, real change will come from empowering women themselves. Liz Dimmock, founder and CEO of Women Ahead, says

“Business leaders have significant experience and skills that can be shared with women in sport, whether they’re working towards a leadership role or a podium position. In parallel, women in sport hold the power to inspire and challenge leaders in business. There has been a lot of talk in this space, but surprisingly little action, and by introducing structured mentoring we can effect genuine change at an individual, organisational and societal level. I also believe we can help elevate the profile of women in sport, to challenge unconscious bias within organisations, and to showcase inspirational role-models to girls and women with the goal of raising levels of participation around the world”.

This pioneering initiative will use the power of mentoring to connect business and sport, and to:

  • Facilitate the exchange of experience and wisdom to help women in sport develop and excel in their chosen field or organisation
  • Accelerate women’s advancement in sporting and business organisations
  • Bring about wider participation of women and girls in sport by raising the profile of positive female sporting role models
  • Act as a catalyst to change societal views about the role of women in business and sport.


Minister for Sport Helen Grant says,“If we are to increase the financial investment and sponsorship in Women’s sport then it is crucial that we engage the best in the business world to help mentor and develop the commercial know-how of our professional athletes and women working in sport. It is fantastic to see Women Ahead launch its new mentoring programme which will see business leaders and athletes alike sharing skills and inspiring each other in their careers.


Ruth Holdaway, Chief Executive of the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, says:

“The role of business in sport is a significant and multi-faceted one. Evidence demonstrates that women are vastly under-represented in the upper echelons of the sector. The fact that almost half of publicly funded National Governing Bodies of sport have less than a quarter of their Boards comprised of women is a clear indicator of the lack of gender diversity.


We are excited to see Women Ahead take a lead in building a bridge between the worlds of business and sport. We want to see more women emerging in leadership positions within sport and more sportswomen applying their successes to the professional sphere.


Ultimately, progress in these areas will help to create greater levels of equality for women throughout the infrastructure of sport, from the field of play to the Boardroom.”


The mentoring programme will be led by Women Ahead’s mentoring experts, who will match, train and develop mentors and mentees to ensure their partnership provides learning, challenge and development by using sound mentoring practice.  Professor Clutterbuck says, “When mentoring is effectively designed, managed and supported it has a proven and positive impact on mentors, mentees and their broader respective organisations”.




 About Women Ahead

Guided by the belief that equality between men and women in the worlds of sport and business will benefit individuals, organisations and society as a whole, Women Ahead is asocial enterprise that creates partnerships between and within the worlds of business and sport. Women Ahead are focused on driving a global dialogue about the advancement of women in sport and business and in doing so, influencing the reach and scale of commercial investment in women’s sport. They do this by establishing, developing and supporting one-to-one mentoring conversations, by showcasing inspirational female role models, and by capturing and carrying out the candid and rigorous research that underpins their work.


About Women Ahead’s Founder & CEO, Liz Dimmock

Liz Dimmock has specialised in the fields of consultancy, coaching and mentoring for more than 16 years, in businesses ranging from 30 employees to 330,000, and has held commercial, coaching and leadership roles at IMG, KPMG, HSBC (Global Head of Coaching), and GP Strategies (Managing Partner). As an athlete, Liz is a passionate cyclist and in 2012 cycled the entire Tour de France route, a week before the men’s professional field, and matching the pros stage-for-stage over 3,479km. This achievement highlighted the absence of a female Tour de France, and ignited Liz’s desire to bring about a level playing field for all women in sport. In 2015 she leads a team of four women setting out to cycle around the world in 90 days.



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