As you bring your daughter to her sports clinics this weekend, to Tae Kwon Do or swimming or soccer, or wherever else her passion lies, celebrate.

She’s not just playing. She’s not just exercising. She’s actually building critical life skills, such as confidence, leadership, teamwork, perseverance and discipline, all of which will contribute to her future success and happiness.

Leveling the Playing Field

We can connect the dots between a girl’s participation in sports and her future achievements in education and employment. In fact, a 2013 EY global study of more than 800 male and female senior managers and directors found that 90% of those women surveyed had played sports. If we look to the C-suite, that number rose to 96%. When comparing C-level female respondents to other female managers, a far higher proportion had participated in sports at a higher level, especially at university or as a working adult. For example, nearly seven in ten (67%) women now occupying a C-level position had participated in sports as a working adult, compared with 55% of other female managers, while 55% of the C-suite women had played sports at a university level, compared with 39% of other female managers.1

I’ve experienced this correlation first hand, and have over the years applied the skills I learned on the basketball court to my own career’s trajectory. Confidence, leadership, decision-making skills – all rooted in my time spent playing sports. It is proof positive that sport helps our victories go well beyond the final buzzer.

The Power of Collaboration: Women Athletes Business Network

Organizations are increasingly relying on greater team collaboration to reach their goals and improve performance. Likewise, we believe that by uniting the power of sports with the power of women business leaders and entrepreneurs around the world, the economic impact can be increased exponentially. For example, a recent study by Peterson Institute for International Economics, supported by EY, shows that girls who play sports do better in school, suffer fewer health problems,achieve more in areas dominated by men, such as science, and hold better jobs as adults. 2

To establish a bridge between retiring elite women athletes and top women in business and expanding opportunities for athletes looking to take that next step, we have launched the Women Athletes Business Network. The network aims to inspire, open doors, and make connections for career-minded female athletes who aspire to be leaders outside of their sport. This includes a global mentoring program, an online community to network with other elite female athletes around the world and new research to explore the connection between sport and women’s leadership. The Women Athletes Business Network is EY’s latest investment in communities of women leaders, such as EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ and EY Worldwide Women Public Sector Leaders Network, designed to contribute to personal and professional success, inspire the next generation, enrich communities and spur economies around the world.

Help Us Make a Difference

Sound like a lofty goal? Tell that to an Olympian looking to take home the gold. Disrupting the status quo is where history begins. So join us in committing to a legacy of inclusion, excellence, integrity and respect.

I invite you to be a part of this journey:

• View our webcast, “Playing to Win: Elite women athletes, entrepreneurs and executives share lessons of success and failure.” Some of the world’s greatest female champions in sports and business share their lessons of success and failure — on the field and in the workplace

• Join the Women Athletes Business Network

• Join the conversation! Connect with us on LinkedIn & Twitter

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Beth Brooke-Marciniak is Global Vice Chair-Public Policy at EY and is a member of the firm’s Global Executive Board. She has public policy responsibility for the firm’s operations in 150 countries and also has global responsibility for the firm’s Diversity and Inclusiveness efforts.+