Mentors and mentees in a pioneering scheme to level the playing field for sports professionals gathered to hear international rugby star Maggie Alphonsi talk about overcoming obstacles yesterday at Broadgate Tower in London.

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. Women’s aspirations and confidence to reach the top tier have been noted to plummet 60% in mid-career due to outside pressures and lack of support.[1]

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 by carefully matching high potential women and men in sport with male or female top tier executives.

The face of international female rugby, Maggie Alphonsi, talked to the group about overcoming obstacles.

She said: “When you hit a bump in the road of your career, having a mentor from outside your professional circle can be the different between success and giving up. Mentors see past your own self-limiting beliefs and value your potential while unlocking the growth mindset you need to excel in your field. I have enjoyed the help of many mentors in my career and wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

Liz Dimmock, founder and CEO of Women Ahead said: “Our mentoring scheme is unique because it offers sports professionals access to guidance and advice from top class mentors from the business world, not from sport. 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. “

Michael Downey, LTA Chief Executive said: “We’re very fortunate to be working with Ricoh and Women Ahead to offer such a fantastic opportunity to grow and develop our workforce and support them in becoming leaders in our business. At the mid-way point in the scheme we’re delighted to see the positive impact on our mentees and look forward to watching how they make even further strides in the coming months.”

Chas Moloney, marketing director, Ricoh UK & Ireland said: “Ricoh is committed to developing diversity and driving inclusion in its workplace and, through its sponsorships, to supporting and nurturing athletic talent.

“We are committed to making real positive change. Strengthening our partnership with Women Ahead allows us to further our work on gender diversity and we hope this will inspire positive change for women in the business and sports communities. Not only is the project helping raise the status of women who work at sporting institutions, it is also providing a channel though which Ricoh can better understand the challenges women face as they progress their careers, particularly those in male dominated environments. Ricoh will take these learnings back into its own organisation.”

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



Notes to Editors

1.     Picture caption: Maggie Alphonsi

2.     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.

3.     See for a two minute video about Women Ahead.

4.     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.

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

6.     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. 

7.     Ricoh is a global technology company that has been transforming the way people work for more than 80 years. Under its corporate tagline – imagine. change. – Ricoh continues to empower companies and individuals with services and technologies that inspire innovation, enhance sustainability and boost business growth. These include document management systems, IT services, production print solutions, visual communications systems, digital cameras, and industrial systems.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in approximately 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ending March 2016, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,209 billion yen (approx. 19.6 billion USD). For further information, please visit

8.     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.     Ricoh: Tiziana Ruberto – PR Manager,
3. Lawn Tennis Association: Hollie Rostock at or on 020 8487 7082. 




[1] Harvard Business Review: “At mid-career, women’s aspirations and confidence to reach the C-Suite plummets 60%”