Sports Helps Develop Women Leaders, Ernst & Young Says

Playing sports can help boost leadership skills for female executives, according to accounting firm Ernst & Young.

A survey published today by the company said 55 percent of women in senior management and executive roles in the U.S. participated in sports at a university level, compared to 39 percent of other female managers. Almost three-quarters of the women surveyed said women who have competed in sports work more effectively in teams compared to those who haven’t.

The survey “underscores the fundamental role that participation in sports plays in developing women leaders,” Beth Brooke, global vice chairwoman, public policy at Ernst & Young, said in an e-mailed statement.

“Not only do the majority of senior women executives have sports in their background, they recognize that the behaviors and techniques learned through sports are critical to motivating teams and improving performance in a corporate environment,” she said.

The survey got the views of more than 800 executives at companies with annual revenue of more than $250 million. About 40 percent of those who responded in May were women, and 44 percent of those managers held board-level posts.

The Ernst & Young statement didn’t list comparable statistics for men or say if such figures were known.

The research forms part of a wider effort by Ernst & Young, introduced in March, to tap into the leadership potential of top women athletes once they retire from competition.

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