Women thriving, on and off the pitch
The UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 marked an incredible milestone. March 2022 saw the largest attendance ever for a women’s football match, with a record crowd of 91,533 in Barcelona. The final at Wembley sold out three months before the tournament even kicked off.
But how is this passion and interest inspiring women in the world of work?
How team sport can impact business performance
Women are a driving force for small business and power economies around the world.
Mandy Lamb, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Visa, commented: “Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, and 2022 has seen a record number of women starting up on their own.
“We’re using our sponsorship of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 to shine a spotlight on how skills learned in sports are having a positive impact on the success of small businesses and the wider economy.”
The report found that team sport impacted business performance in four ways:
75% of women entrepreneurs surveyed who play sport say it’s had a positive impact on their business life
72% of women entrepreneurs surveyed who play team sports believe their business will succeed over the next five years
36% of women entrepreneurs surveyed who play team sports run businesses with international reach, compared to the average of 26%
Those surveyed who play team sports say they have developed key business skills – for example, 34% have developed stress management skills and 33% confidence skills. There are also several mental and physical health benefits. For many women entrepreneurs, sport helps them to be at the top of their game, on and off the pitch. Half (50%) of the women entrepreneurs surveyed that play team sports say it helps them deal with stress, tiredness or being overworked. One in three (33%) also say that they gain confidence from team sports, which they bring to their businesses.
Team sports require clear communication and organisational skills, often under pressure – just like the workplace. For many, this means learning how to lead a team. Three quarters (75%) of women entrepreneurs surveyed say that they believe they are a ‘good leader or businesswoman’, above the average (73%) and nearly one in five (19%) of team sports playing entrepreneurs cite leadership as a skill they bring from the playing field into the workplace.
Women entrepreneurs who play team sports also seem to bring that ‘team player’ mentality to the workplace. This can be seen through the insight that while nearly three quarters (73%) of women entrepreneurs say they set up their business because they wanted to work for themselves, this figure is much lower (57%) for women who play team sports. Women who play team sports are also nearly twice as likely to be motivated to give something back to their community (16% vs 9%).
Karen Carney MBE, Co-creator of The Second Half (Visa’s career development programme) and former England footballer, commented: “The biggest eye-opener for me … was how transferrable skills from sport can be. The ability to work in teams, to be adaptable, resilient, hard-working – the list could go on – but these are all things you learn in sport that don’t just get left behind when you stop playing. We want to help female players realise that these skills matter in the business world too, and they are highly desirable.”
Many of the barriers that hold women back in sport are many of the same as those holding back women economically. But the tournament has demonstrated how inclusive environments help everyone to thrive, and nearly a third (29%) of women surveyed aged 16-34 agree that the tournament has inspired them to take up team sport. In fact, three in ten (31%) said that it has even boosted their confidence.
Adrian Farina, Chief Marketing Officer, Europe, Visa, summarises: “With the right idea, support, and investment, women from any background can succeed in business. While playing team sports like football is not key to business success, it’s clear that many women entrepreneurs who partake in team sports feel the benefits beyond the pitch.”