Panel discussion celebrates International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day celebrates the incredible achievements and accomplishments, recognizes challenges, and provides a ground for international discourse on women’s rights and gender equality. This year’s theme is Breaking the Bias – a hope, call for, and fight for a diverse and equitable landscape. Sport’s internationally unifying nature has made it the foreground of peace and equality. However, adversity is no stranger, there are still a plethora of challenges that women face on the pitch and in the office.  

We were honored to be joined by some of the most influential women in the sporting industry, Megan Hughes Allison, Managing Director of Underdog Venture Team, Victoria Brumfield, Chief Business Development Officer & Chief of Staff of USA Triathlon, Kelly Hyne, Chief Sales Officer of Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), and Adrienne Barber, VP, Properties at Soccer United Marketing of Major League Soccer. Hosted by CSM Sport & Entertainment’s Vanessa Taveras, SVP of Properties, the group deconstructs gender biases in sports, breakdown some big statistics, and advises groups and individuals on how to pave the path forward for the next generation of women. If you would like to watch the webinar back in full, click here to sign up and receive it. 

The biggest metric for success is if the industry is coming along – are we creating change for the industry? We need to take a step back to wipe off that sticky floor, so we can break more parts of that glass ceiling.

Megan Hughes Allison

Megan Hughes Allison

The session started off with their stories to the top in male dominated industries, Kelly Hyne says “I am used to being the token female – it’s the counterparts in the industry that you do business with build you up so you can say yes. It’s on all of us to do that because that’s how things change.”

To that point, Victoria agrees that having supporters across all spectrums is key to enacting positive change, she remarks that typically “When companies hire for entry level roles, they hire from the industry circles. My CEO was adamant to look outside of the circle – coming into this role, I was an outsider and there is a freedom in that. When you’re hired to break the status quo makes you feel empowered to do more – I was there not to maintain the status quo.” 

The road to the top does not come without its own set of hurdles, especially when you change industries, Adrienne speaks on how to overcome the challenges in the job and yourself, “The opportunity to work on tough things teaches you a lot – it provides a lot of opportunity to learn and apply them to new project in the future. Most people don’t know how to pull these things off – make sure you raise your hand and volunteer. Not only does this give you experience but it gives you confidence to pull those things in the future.” 

On the subject of breaking barriers in male dominated sports, Kelly extends advice on the world of golf and sales, “there is no way I am going to be in sales to play golf. Trust me you don’t have to be good- all these guys think they’re great. Hold your own and hit your shot- I play with CEO’s, just say yes and be confident.” She goes onto say, “as women, we want to be overly prepared and confident- your authenticity comes through when you believe in what you sell. To be successful, you must be mission driven. I wake up every day and ask how I can help women live out their dreams. When you’re willing to take risks that are good for a sales perspective – it leads to success.” 

All of our panelists volunteer their time to be mentors in the CSM Mentoring Challenge, paving the path forward for the next generation was a key topic of conversation on the topic of corporate social responsibility and personal journeys. Megan advises us to change our mindsets “the biggest metric for success is if the industry is coming along – are we creating change for the industry? We need to take a step back to wipe off that sticky floor, so we can break more parts of that glass ceiling. We aren’t going to change people’s bias – but if we allow people to show up, it outweighs the bias.”  

Mentors are key factor of growth for all individuals, to have someone to help support and guide, but mentorship is a two-way street. Kelly says (on her CSM Mentoring Challenge mentee), “I learn from my mentee- I call her and ask her for her opinion. It’s not one that puts you in a role or supports you – but it’s how you bring each other up.”  

Victoria leaves us with this, “Our different perspective is our advantage -it’s our superpower. As a token woman, you bring a perspective and a voice that no one else has. It’s a significant value and embracing that is part of the process. I owe that all to my mentors.”  

If you would like to find out more information on our work in Women’s Sports and the CSM Mentoring Challenge, please get in touch by emailing