Businesswomen confirm sports skills boost career success

New research by KPMG into women in business in Ireland provides insights on participation in sport and its impact on skills and careers.

An overwhelming 88% of women in business in Ireland believe the skills they learned through sports have transferred into career success.

KPMG, a long-time supporter of women’s sport, has partnered with the 30% Club Ireland, a global campaign supported by chairs and CEOs who are committed to better gender balance at all levels of organisations in Ireland, to release unique research documenting Irish businesswomen’s attitudes toward the role that sport has played in their professional development.

“We are thrilled to see how sport has influenced the careers of so many women in business, and we hope that those who see these results will be encouraged to participate in sport ”

The research, commissioned by KPMG and conducted by iReach, emphasises the importance of sport in the daily lives of Irish businesswomen. The study was conducted entirely with key female decision makers in businesses nationwide, with 75% of respondents citing that they have participated in sport at some level. This state increases to 90% participation in sport for CEOs.

From the field to the boardroom

Woman with horse.

KPMG last year forged a partnership with jockey Rachael Blackmore

The research uncovered some interesting insights, with 88% of those surveyed believing that the skills they have learned through sport are transferable to the workplace. Teamwork (90%), confidence (86%), and self-belief (63%) were all cited by those surveyed as some of the top skills they had developed through their participation in sport that are transferable to a career. 69% of those surveyed meanwhile believe that they perform these skills better in the workplace due to their participation in sport.

Additional findings from the research include.

  • 58% believe that participating in sport has positively impacted their professional career.
  • 94% of women in business would encourage a female relative to participate in sport, with 87% stating it builds confidence, 86% stating it is a great way to meet new people, 69% believing it builds communication skills, and 64% believing it builds leadership skills.
  • 45% of those surveyed stated that they look to see if participation in sport is included on a CV when hiring a new staff member.
  • 3 in 4 women surveyed say sport is useful for networking or business development, while
  • 56% of women believe sport is important when trying to achieve a good work-life balance

“We have seen first-hand the impact that sport has on the lives of women in this country through our sponsorship of the KPMG Women’s Irish Open in 2022 and previous Women in Sport initiatives like the 20×20 campaign,” Rio Howley, partner in KPMG said.

“We are thrilled to see how sport has influenced the careers of so many women in business, and we hope that those who see these results will be encouraged to participate in sport – regardless of standard or level – so that they, too, can advance their careers and reach their full potential.”

Meliosa O’Caoimh, Country Chair of the 30% Club added: “We welcome this new and interesting research which supports the importance of broader competency development for senior leadership, and which reinforces once again the value of inclusion and equal participation for boys and girls – in education, in sport and ultimately into leadership roles.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.