To mark National Mentoring Day (27th October), Emily Chow, Marketing Executive at LiveWire Sport and an alumni of the Diversity in Digital Mentoring Programme, explores how mentoring can improve opportunities for individuals and businesses, as well as actively support the growth of diversity in the workplace, and the industry.
Mentoring is an investment in people, and is key in empowering individuals to reach their full potential. It has long served as an activity to help the development of the next generation of professionals, but why nurture diverse talent in particular? And how does this benefit the digital and sport industry?
Workplace diversity is now one of the most talked-about topics in the business community, and there is a reason for this. The business case for diversity in the workplace is overwhelming, and there is a growing body of evidence to support that a more diverse working environment leads to better results, for both businesses and individuals.
Looking at the effect of increased diversity on businesses, the Boston Consulting Group carried out a study that found businesses with ‘above-average’ diversity in their management teams reported a 19% higher revenue than those with less-diverse leadership (Source). Furthermore, a study by Cornell University found that mentoring programmes of diverse talent boosted minority representation at management level from 9% to 24% (Source), whilst also dramatically improving promotion and retention rates for ethnic minorities and women (15% to 38%) as compared to non-mentored employees.
Diversity brings so many advantages to businesses: increased profitability, more creativity, stronger governance and better problem-solving abilities (Source). And on an individual basis, mentoring has proven to show a development of soft skills, from improved self-confidence, communication and networking skills, to learning how to self-reflect, and learn from others’ experience (Source).
The benefits of mentoring are significant, with research suggesting that mentees are five times more likely to achieve a promotion than those without a mentor (Source). And a good mentor can be that perfect bridge between an individual’s and business’ needs.
One of the most impressive things a mentoring programme can do is the positive ripple effect it can have, with 89% of people who have been mentored going on to mentor someone in the future (Source); contributing to a culture of consistent development, improvement and learning.
With all this evidence to support the benefits of a diverse workforce and why it should be nurtured, the sport industry is still slow in its progress to increase the diversity of the sector. The Sustainability Report has reported that in 2020 Britain, only 3% of board members of national governing bodies are black, while 64% of the governing bodies funded by government grants had no black or minority ethnic representation on their board.
As a result, athletes are beginning to take matters into their own hands and use their position of influence to create change. From the setup of The Hamilton Commission - Lewis Hamilton’s partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering to improve and engage young black people in motorsport and STEM subjects, to former England cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent launching the African-Caribbean Engagement (ACE) Programme to address the sharp decline in members of the black community playing cricket.
The Diversity in Digital Mentoring Programme
To build and support the growth of new opportunities for under-represented groups within the sport industry, LiveWire Sport launched the Diversity in Digital Mentoring Programme in December 2019, focusing on the support and growth of under-represented talent across the sport and digital industries.
As part of the programme, each participant is partnered with two mentors from the LiveWire Sport team, providing individually tailored support, training and advice. Most importantly, the programme creates a supportive network of other like-minded peers with the same ambition of improving diversity in the digital and sports industry.
I know this first-hand, as a former member of the Diversity in Digital Mentoring Programme, and now a mentor as part of the LiveWire Sport team, my mentoring experience has gone full circle. I joined the programme as a Sports Science university graduate under the watchful eye of my assigned mentor, Andy McKenzie, a Director & Co-Founder at the agency. With 12 months of mentoring, Andy helped me to explore both my writing and creative skills on various projects and I now sit under the new business branch of the agency. As a mentor, Andy encouraged me to go after opportunities and be bolder in my interests and consider specifically how they can help my career progression. One year on, I am a mentor myself to one of this year’s members of the Diversity in Digital Mentoring Programme, with similar aspirations to break into marketing in the sports sector.
The experience has also opened my eyes to other opportunities to learn and develop across the industry, becoming an active ambassador of the No Turning Back programme, set up by f1 Recruitment. The No Turning Back initiative has given me access to Schools and Universities across the country where I have given talks to guide the next generation of students wishing to explore a career in sport.
Sport should be, and will always be for all, which is why diversity is so important and something we should all be striving to achieve in every corner of the sports ecosystem.
For further information on the Diversity in Digital Mentoring Programme, visit our website page here.