(BPT) - Developing the women entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow is all about showing the way — and increasingly, the sweat of sports competition is a key training ground for women’s career and business success.
Research conducted by Ernst and Young and ESPNW shows the important role sports play at every stage of professional women’s lives: 74% of executive women say that experience in sports can help accelerate a woman’s career.
Involvement in team sports can help women gain a sense of personal accomplishment and self-confidence. They can also learn key skills that make for strong leaders in the workplace or as entrepreneurs, including the ability to think quickly, thrive under pressure, learn and grow from defeat and collaborate with teammates to reach a common goal.
The huge opportunity for sports to empower women and girls is the driving force behind Visa’s major investment in women’s soccer and its signature role at the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019, with a five-year sponsorship of the U.S. Soccer Federation in support of the U.S. Women’s National Team, partnership with UEFA Women’s Football and ongoing support of FIFA Women’s competitions.
"Visa has long been committed to fostering an environment that enables women to thrive and challenge the status quo. That commitment comes to life in many ways, both on and off the field," said Mary Ann Reilly, senior vice president, North America Marketing, Visa. "There is no better way to show that commitment than to make a substantial investment in the future of women’s soccer and move the needle on gender equality.”
When the best women’s soccer players in the world compete in France, they will dominate the world stage amid a global cultural movement centered on gender equality and women's empowerment. It’s a great opportunity to remind ourselves of the many ways to support the success of women on and off the field.
Here are four simple ways you can, too:
1) Support participation in athletics. Encourage sisters, nieces, daughters and granddaughters to participate in team sports, and be sure to go to games or matches and cheer them on when they do.
2) Show them their teams matter! Be a sponsor, mentor, coach or an unofficial cheerleader for girls’ teams — even if you don’t have a family member participating. Go to games and support the players even if you don’t know anyone on the team.
3) Show your team spirit. Be a season ticket holder, or go to as many games as you can, when your local women’s teams — high school, college and professional — are playing, in whatever sports most interest you. Wear their jerseys and show them you’re a fan!
4) Encourage women entrepreneurs. Shop at or invest in women-owned businesses and show them you applaud their efforts.
Companies like Visa are helping women overcome barriers to success through their global initiative She's Next, Empowered by Visa, which helps to support women small-business owners as they build, sustain and advance their businesses. Visa is also listening to and learning from women, with a multi-million-dollar campaign in the U.S. called Money is Changing, which builds on the experience of millennial women to highlight practical steps women business owners have taken to change the game and challenge existing money taboos.
Inspiring girls and young women means equipping them with the tools, resources and experiences they’ll need to succeed. Supporting and encouraging women's athletics provides a positive way to make that happen.