Sports governing bodies need more womenSubscribe
WSFF 08 March 2012
Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation say that progress is being made to recruit more women to sports governing bodies – but more needs to be done
New figures released by the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) show that just one in five of the top positions on sports boards are taken by women. The figures, released on International Women’s Day, show that while the number of women on sports governing bodies has increased slightly in the past year, only 22% of positions are held by women (up from 20% in 2010).
The statistics show that:
- 104 of the 478 total board members of the 47 sports governing bodies in the UK are women
- The number of boards without any women represented has fallen from 10 to six
The number of sports boards with no female members has fallen from 10 to six, meaning that more sporting boards contain female members than ever before. However, there has been a drop in the number of women holding top positions on boards. Just seven of the 47 sports governing bodies have female chairs – down from eight last year. Only ten have women CEOs - one less than in 2011.
The WSFF has long argued that increasing the representation of women at a senior level allows sports bodies to better understand and engage with women as well as to grow interest in grass-roots participation and enjoy greater elite success. In 2009, the WSFF established the Commission on the Future of Women’s Sport (chaired by Baroness Grey-Thompson) to address inequalities in the leadership, investment and profile of women’s sport. Later that year, the Commission set out the business case for increasing the number of women in top jobs alongside the first audit of the sector in its report Trophy Women?
Subsequently the UK has seen an improvement in the number of women represented in sports leadership. This includes the high-profile appointment of Heather Rabbatts as non-executive director at The FA in January 2012 and the news that 54% of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games is female.
WSFF is calling for sports governing bodies to be encouraged and supported to take concerted action to improve the profile of their boards and to be offered more help to find the best female talent.
Today’s figures were released at a summit of top business women convened by Deloitte to discuss the opportunities for women presented by the 2012 Olympics.
The Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation CEO Sue Tibballs said: “We know that organisations with a balanced board are more effective and better at decision-making and so there can be no doubt that a lack of diversity at the top of British sport has consequences for its performance from the elite to grass roots.
“The under-representation of women not only harms sport’s delivery and profile, but means sport is missing out on the massive potential for growth from the women’s market.
“These figures give us hope that governing bodies are starting to recognise the benefits of having more women involved. However, with the eyes of the world on the UK as the host of the 2012 Olympics, we need to do a lot more to help women into senior sports leadership roles.”
Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson said: “Today’s figures from WSFF are a small step in the right direction but indicate that we still have more to do to ensure all NGBs have modern, effective governance structures. I am keen to do what I can to ensure progress on this issue. Having a better gender balance on boards can help sports focus on increasing female participation, which in many cases, lag behind men. It also makes commercial sense so that sports can better target a wider market for raising investment from the private sector.”
Seb Coe, Chair of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) said: "The London Olympic and Paralympic Games will provide a legacy of talented and experienced women for the UK sports sector. Over half of LOCOG’s workforce is female including five members of the Senior Management Team and the first female Director of Sport for an organising committee in Debbie Jevans. It is absolutely essential that an organisation reflects the real world so including women at all levels of sports governance isn’t a nice to have, it is a priority.”
Jennie Price, CEO of Sport England said: “We believe that sporting opportunities should be open to all and are committed to creating an environment in which we all have equal opportunities to engage in sport, whether as participants; competitors; volunteers; officials or administrators. We look forward to working with WSFF to help inspire more women to seek top positions in sport.”
Baroness Sue Campbell, Chair of UK Sport said: “UK Sport has always advocated balanced representation on National Governing Body (NGB) boards and, through our Women and Leadership Development Programme, we know there is a wealth of female talent available to fulfil leadership roles within sports.
“Reviewing the figures released by WSFF, it is clear that more needs to be done to ensure NGB boards source the best possible skills and talent available to them, including women already working within sport and those from other sectors. UK Sport will continue to work with sports to enable improvements in governance and the effectiveness of NGB boards, and to ensure skilled women have the opportunity to contribute to sport at the highest level.”