KPMG reveal research on the impact of sport on female careers

KPMG reveal research on the impact of sport on female careers KPMG reveal research on the impact of sport on female careers
Neasa Kennedy

KPMG in collaboration with the 30% Club, a movement of Chairs and CEOs who are committed to better gender balance at all levels of organisations in Ireland, have released unique research documenting Irish businesswomen's attitudes toward the role that sport has played in their professional development.

The research, commissioned by KPMG and conducted by iReach, emphasises the importance of sport in the daily lives of Irish businesswomen with 88% of those surveyed believing that the skills they have learned through sport are transferable to the workplace.

The research uncovered interesting insights. 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. Seven in ten (69%) of those surveyed meanwhile believe that they perform these skills better in the workplace due to their participation in sport.

Additional findings included:

  • 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

The publication of this research is an extension of KPMG's ongoing commitment to the development, advancement, and empowerment of women's sport in Ireland. Having previously supported the 20x20 campaign, KPMG has strived to create a #LevelGround between women’s and men’s sport through its continued support of the Dublin Ladies Gaelic Football Team, KPMG Women’s Irish Open, Leona Maguire and Rachael Blackmore.


The participation in sport spans across not only participation through playing, but also through volunteering, administration, coaching and other non-playing roles.

The research was discussed at an in-person event hosted by RTE’s Sarah O' Connor with panellists including Vera Pauw, Manager of the Irish Women’s National Football Team, Mary O’Connor, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, Sinead Aherne of KPMG and All-Ireland winning captain of the Dublin Ladies Football team and club side St Sylvesters.

Speaking as part of a panel discussion at the event, Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw expressed that everyone is different. Everyone has their own skills, ambitions and talents. Working with everyone's best qualities brings out the best in a team and brings high performance. This creates a bond of trust that everyone is doing their job and this can be brought to the business world.

On why you should play sport and it's benefits, Mary O'Connor said sport is social and fun. Young girls build up an understanding of who they are, they develop connections and commitment.


We spoke to Sinéad Aherne, former Dublin LGFA player and Director at KPMG after the event and she echoed that the transfer of skills from sport to business is invaluable.

"Particularly in regards to confidence, you know we see in girls around 13-17 age bracket, there is a huge dropout rate in terms of sport but those who do stay involved, the friendships in particular and that kind of confidence is key to people sticking in sport and bring those skills into their professional life going into college and going beyond into professional jobs"

The increase in availability of this type of research is undoubtedly linked to the increase in investment and visibility of women in sport. Having played at an elite level for years, Aherne has first-hand experience of the changes that have occurred.

"2010 was the first year I won an All-Ireland with Dublin and I started my career in KPMG a week later and I'd say very few people knew I had been involved in winning an All-Ireland a week before, compared to 2017 when we won our second All-Ireland and so many people in the firm reached out and I think that change in visibility, in people recognising the value of  the achievement"

"I've always felt you know women's sport is underfunded in terms of people seeing the commercial benefits there are to investing in women's sport, for me I think there is a massive return on investment to be had investing in women's sport"

KPMG's sponsorship and investment in women's sport through events such as The KPMG Women's Irish Open and through athletes like Rachael Blackmore and the Dublin Ladies Football team, is an example of the increased funding and investment in recent years by large companies.

Aherne is now a Director in KPMG and is passionate about the impact sport has had on her career.

"It allows you to reach your potential and have the best chance of maximising your talents and your skills and I think that is what we really want"

You can find out more about the research here.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Processing your request...

You are subscribed now!

Follow us for more

Copyright © 2023. Developed & Designed by Square1 and powered by