On the eve of the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open teeing off at Dundonald Links, Aberdeen Asset Management hosted the inaugural Ladies Scottish Open Forum: Female Leadership in Business and Sport.

Introduced by Martin Gilbert, Chief Executive, Aberdeen Asset Management, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, addressed a packed audience at The Gailes Hotel in North Ayrshire before taking part in an audience Q&A session.

In her address to the audience, Sturgeon said: “We’ve seen some good progress in recent years, and it’s encouraging that activity levels amongst teenage girls are increasing. However, there is still a gender gap in sports participation and physical activity levels. There’s also a shortage of women involved in sport from grassroots right up to elite level.

My government is committed to doing more to support women and girls to be more active and to promote their participation in all aspects of the sporting sector and in being active more generally.”



Speaking alongside Martin Gilbert on the business panel were Rain Newton-Smith, Director of Economics, CBI; Krystyna Nowak, Managing Director of UK Board Practice, Norman Broadbent; and Justine Lutterodt, Director of the Centre for Synchronous Leadership.

The panellists debated a range of topics including the possible impact of Brexit on gender equality, equality targets and supporting female entrepreneurship.

Martin Gilbert commented: “The inaugural Aberdeen Asset Management Forum on female leadership in business and sport has been a huge success and the quality of discussion from our panellists kept a large and influential audience engaged and enthralled. Female representation in business is still a big issue, which we at Aberdeen take very seriously. Today’s forum reflected on the work that still needs to be done but also on the progress already made. There is no doubt that diversity makes for better decision making and should be seen as a competitive advantage.

“I am particularly indebted to the First Minster for launching the forum, and for being so supportive with our sponsorship of Aberdeen Asset Management’s Ladies Scottish Open.”

Lively debate followed in the sport panel, which was moderated by broadcaster Georgie Bingham. Panellists included Alison Kervin, Sports Editor, Mail on Sunday; Steve Martin, CEO, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment; and professional golfers and Aberdeen Asset Management ambassadors Cheyenne Woods and Catriona Matthew, who was earlier named as a vice-captain to Annika Sorenstam for the 2017 Solheim Cup matches in Iowa.

Following the news that a Sporting Equality Fund is to be set up in Scotland, with the aim of increasing women’s engagement in sport, Matthew commented: “As a mother to two young girls, I am delighted to hear about the Sporting Equality Fund which aims to get more women and girls actively participating in sport. Keeping fit and healthy is so important in terms of health, wellbeing, mental strength and social mobility. I choose to follow an active lifestyle and I would encourage others to do the same as there is a sport for everyone, regardless of your age, ability, shape or size.”