A first-of-its kind mentoring scheme to accelerate the development of women working in tennis came to a successful close last week, with mentees and mentors saying the experience had been transformational.

The 30% Club sport and business mentoring scheme, managed by Women Ahead, carefully matched senior leaders at Ricoh with female leaders at the Lawn Tennis Association. This is the only mentoring programme in the UK which gives people working in sport the opportunity to be mentored by a top tier executive from the business world.

These 20 mentoring pairs have been guided through a year-long Women Ahead mentoring programme designed to help mentees to move past the mid-career ‘speed bump’ which prevents many high potential female leaders from reaching board level roles. In 2016, a Women on Boards review of 59 UK NGBs showed that UK sporting boards were heavily led by men, with just 29 per cent of board members being women. Two sports governing bodies had no female representation on their boards at all and just 22 per cent of NGBs had female CEOs.

Liz Dimmock, CEO and Founder of Women Ahead said: “We’re thrilled to hear that mentors and mentees on our programme have learned and grown by being matched with people from outside their normal sphere. The feedback during the programme has been excellent. We’re hearing that mentees are putting themselves forwards for roles they wouldn’t have considered without the guidance of their mentor. Mentors are saying they have changed their leadership styles to reflect the goals and styles of their diverse teams. The scheme has been a great success, and we are proud of the results.”

Vicky Williams, LTA People Director said: “We are very fortunate to have worked with Ricoh and Women Ahead to offer such a fantastic opportunity to grow and develop our workforce. The feedback has been incredibly positive, with each mentee taking away a broad range of learnings and skills from the last year. We are excited to see how the mentoring scheme will now positively impact the mentees in the future and we look forward to supporting them in becoming leaders in our business.”


Anna Birkinshaw, Regional Tennis Participation Manager said: “The mentoring scheme has been an invaluable experience for me, I thoroughly enjoyed it and can genuinely say that it has changed the way in which I work in a both a professional and personal capacity. The skills, knowledge and growth in confidence have been some of the main learnings I will take away with me and I hope that I can have the opportunity in the future to be a mentor myself. I recommend anyone who wants to learn and grow in their career, take part in a mentor scheme as it is hugely beneficial.”


Rebekah Wallis, Director of People and Corporate Responsibility at Ricoh UK & Ireland said: “This programme has helped our people at Ricoh to get exposure to different networks and new ways of thinking. It helps them implement the growth mindset athletes use to be innovative and achieve great things. I urge everyone to seek out a mentor or mentors who will truly encourage you to broaden your thinking. Believe in the feedback you get as mentors or mentees and push yourself to be your best.”

This scheme runs in parallel to the broader sport and business cross-company mentoring scheme that Women Ahead manage for the 30% Club. This year, a team of mentoring experts at Women Ahead matched 82 mentoring pairs of across 11 sports including England Hockey, BBC Sport, England Netball and UK Sport to be mentored by corporate leaders from a range of organisations including Deloitte, HSBC, KPMG, Belron International and PwC.  The team is now inviting organisations from sport and businesses to join the third year of this successful programme. Organisations such as the British Paralympic Association and British Olympic Association are new additions – with continued support from PwC, BElron, HSBC and Deloitte for example.

This scheme represents Women Ahead’s mission to create practical change and not merely add to the diversity debate.

Companies and sports organisations that would like to find out more about the scheme can contact Liz Dimmock at Women Ahead on 01491 579726 or


Notes to Editors

1.     The scheme is delivered by Women Ahead, a social enterprise that supports the development of women in sport and business. Women Ahead designs and manages mentoring schemes, workshops and learning materials, offers leading female speakers for events, and carries out research and consultancy.

2.     See for a two-minute video about Women Ahead.

3.     In the broader scheme there are 84 pairs, and 29 organisations taking part, including England Hockey, England Table Tennis, BBC Sport, England Volleyball, HSBC, PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, John Lewis Partnership and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

4.     The 30% Club launched in the UK in 2010 with a goal of achieving a minimum of 30% women on FTSE-100 boards - currently the figure stands at 26% up from 12.5%. As of 2016, the scope of this target has been extended to FTSE-350 boards. In tandem with this, the 30% Club is now also looking to reach a minimum of 30% women on Executive Committees of FTSE-100 companies by 2020. 

5.     Ricoh is a global technology company specialising in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in about 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ending March 2015, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,231 billion yen (approx. 18.5 billion USD).
The majority of the company's revenue comes from products, solutions and services that improve the interaction between people and information. Ricoh also produces award-winning digital cameras and specialized industrial products. It is known for the quality of its technology, the exceptional standard of its customer service and sustainability initiatives.
Under its corporate tagline, imagine. change. Ricoh helps companies transform the way they work and harness the collective imagination of their employees. For further information, please visit

6.     The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is the National Governing Body for tennis in Great Britain, responsible for developing and promoting the sport with a mission to get more people playing tennis more often.   It does this under the consumer brand of British Tennis, by working with a broad range of partners and over 25,000 volunteers, to grow the game in communities, clubs and schools.  The LTA represents the interests of over 350,000 British Tennis Members, men and women, girls and boys across the country, playing on more than 23,000 courts.  The LTA runs and supports a network of 11,500 approved tournaments for players of all ages, the corner-stones of which are five grass court pro events leading up to Wimbledon, held in Nottingham (ATP & WTA), Birmingham (WTA), Queen’s Club-London (ATP) and Eastbourne (WTA), all of which are title sponsored by Aegon, our lead Partner who is helping transform the sport in this country.  The LTA works in partnership with its charitable entity, the Tennis Foundation, to provide a tennis provision for more than 20,000 schools, disadvantaged youth as well as promoting tennis as an inclusive sport for anyone with a disability.  For further information about the LTA and British Tennis, and to review the British Tennis strategy for 2015 – 2018 visit or follow us on Twitter @BritishTennis.

Press enquiries to:-

1.     Women Ahead: Timma Marett at or on 01189 406828 / 07901 682219.

2.     Lawn Tennis Association: Lauren Best at or 07931 253 355.