Investing in Women’s Sport Creates Real Return For Shareholders

Women’s Sport Trust #BeAGameChanger Awards Drive Business Focus on Gender in Sport; Launch of Y Sport Announced

xDSC_7405 2Business and Sporting luminaries attended the inaugural ‘Be A Game Changer’ Awards this week (sponsored by Microsoft), celebrating the success of female role models in sport and highlighting the continued need for investment. Clare Balding, delivering a keynote speech, told the audience about the achievements of female athletes and the importance of increasing sponsorship monies in women’s sport.

The awards are designed to showcase the incredible talent from across women’s sport, and to highlight the need for media, sponsors and the public to invest at all levels. The awards are organised by The Women’s Sport Trust, a charity that raises the visibility and increases the impact of women’s sport through the promotion of role models, increasing media coverage and improving funding.

xDSC_7611 2Countless studies, from the boards of UK companies through to the classroom, show that organisations perform better when women and girls are able to fully play a role. Sport is one of the most public arenas society has to demonstrate this and has therefore the potential to drive social change. Continued funding from sponsors is key, and the audience of senior business leaders from companies such as Microsoft, Investec, Newton, Kia Motors, KPMG and Lloyds heard from iconic athletes including Lizzy Yarnold, Christine Ohuruogu and Nicole Cooke about how their input is helping drive this continued change.

Broadcaster Alice Arnold, the awards host, discussed the importance of commitment to making change happen:

“The #BeAGameChanger Awards acknowledge the significant commitment that individuals and organisations are making to women’s sport. But it needs more. More time, more effort, and more money. The increasing success and visibility of female athletes is proof, if we needed it, that support and investment from business and the media can make change happen. The awards are about recognising that success of course, but also about demonstrating that investing in women’s sport makes good business sense.”

Gender diversity is linked to corporate performance – according to data from Credit Suisse, companies with at least one female board member outperform all-male boards by 26% globally. Data from McKinsey suggests the most diverse companies have on average an operating profitability 14% higher than the least. Companies that choose to invest in women’s sport are sending a clear message about their brand and their people. Both business and government are committing huge resource to this area but there is an ever-increasing need for more – so that both girls’ and women’s sport can thrive.

YGroup_Presentation_Final_2In response to the growing influence and importance of women in sport, the launch of Y Sport was also announced at the event. Y Sport is the new sports management and sponsorship consultancy focused solely on the commercial development of women’s sport. Founded by Sally Horrox, an expert on women’s sport strategy, commercial and broadcast partnerships, Y Sport will partner with the Women’s Sport Trust to help realise the potential of investing in women’s sport. Jo Bostock, co-founder of the Women’s Sport Trust, will join Sally and provide consultancy expertise on the business benefits of inclusion.

“High performing organisations in business and sport set themselves apart by paying close attention to their talent, markets, brand, risk management and reputation,” said Sally Horrox. “These are business fundamentals, not fringe concerns, and each one is directly affected by gender diversity and inclusion – or the lack of it.

“Y Sport will connect forward-thinking and innovative businesses with women’s sport and individual sportswomen. With compelling role models, great events, positive media coverage and audience growth it’s an exciting time for women’s sport. We will help it fulfil its commercial potential.  Recent and direct involvement in the professional development of women’s football and netball – the two largest team sports – convinced us of the potential size of the opportunity and provided valuable insights that will benefit women’s sport across the board.”

Y Sport will work with business, media and sport to redefine the rationale for commercial investment, to create new broadcast and commercial opportunities and to demonstrate a tangible return for all parties.

Jo Bostock, Women’s Sport Trust co-founder, concluded: “It is increasingly clear that there is unstoppable momentum behind the development of women’s sport. The playing fields are starting to level, and the Women’s Sport Trust is committed to maximising the positive financial impact of this progress. Sponsors and the sponsored will both benefit from this change, and we look forward to continuing to make a difference, at all levels of sport.”

Sporting Role Model (sponsored by the Gym Group)
Nicola Adams MBE 

Ambassador of Women’s Sport (sponsored by Matrix Fitness)
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson

Inspiring Initiative
Wembley match – England v Germany

Inspiring Participation (sponsored by Inclusion@Lloyds)
This Girl Can

Imagery of the Year (sponsored by KPMG)
Jessica Fulford-Dobson

Media Organisation of the Year (sponsored by the 30% Club)
BBC Sport

Journalist of the Year (sponsored by Promote PR)
Jessica Creighton

Sponsorship of the Year (sponsored by activbod)
Newton Investment Management & Women’s Boat Race

Outstanding Contribution to Women’s Sport
Sue Mott