Rio 2016 sponsors are taking an extra step to prove their commitment to the Games and forever marry their brands to the Olympic rings: They’re hiring Olympians.

Audit and professional services firm EY plans to hire nine female Olympians at the end of the Games, their names to be disclosed at the time. 

Visa, the official payment card and system of the Games, is running an announcement on its website: “Help wanted: Hiring Olympians & Paralympians at Visa.”

The companies insist the initiatives are more than just publicity stunts, and they’re serving an important purpose. 

Beyond marquee athletes like Simone Biles and Michael Phelps, many Olympians struggle to save money during their sporting lives and see few paths toward traditional careers, save for coaching and broadcasting.

The hiring initiatives also make Visa and EY look good, according to Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing specialist at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco.

“It’s a great PR story,” Mr Dorfman said. “In addition to all the other marketing avenues that you’ve got I think it’s a great way to promote goodwill for your brand.”

Beth Brooke-Marciniak, EY’s global vice chair of public policy, said the career transition is even harder for women athletes, who rarely make as much as their male counterparts and come to the end of their professional sports lives with little built up in the way of a rainy-day fund. 

Stepping in to help them transition is generally a win-win, according to Ms Brooke-Marciniak, a former Purdue basketball player.

“Women aren’t going to earn any money in sports, it’s stunning,” she said. 

“Women have no choice but to pivot. They need a next chapter.”

The women it hires will go into the advisory business, similar to the entry-level jobs it recruits for from top colleges and universities, according to Ms Brooke-Marciniak.

If specifically targeting female Olympians is a novelty, companies from Wall Street and elsewhere have been taking notice for a while now that athletes make good employees. 

Carly Drum-O’Neill, who founded an athlete-focused unit at executive search firm Drum Associates, said success in sport often goes hand-in-hand with drive to succeed and the kind of confidence that allows great sales people to command a room.

“These Olympic athletes have proven they have those core skills that make you successful in the working world today,” said Ms Drum-O’Neill, a former Penn State University tennis player.

Efforts to hire Olympians have met with varying degrees of success. Home Depot, the US home-improvement retail chain, ran a programme for years to employ active Olympic athletes. The company ended the programme in 2009.


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