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Beyond 30 – Women in Sport meet Ruth Daniels, Chair of Rounders England

Ruth Daniels, Chair of Rounders England  discusses why she stands in support of our Beyond 30% campaign and how she thinks its has impacted the sports industry, her personal experience in a leadership role in sport, as well as giving advice to anyone looking to develop into a leadership role within the sector.

Q. Why is it important for us to see women better represented in all areas of sport, including leadership positions?

All organisations perform better when they have a diverse and inclusive representation; it leads to better and balanced decision making, improves an organisations ability to engage and appeal with current and potential members as well as creating inspirational leaders to attract and retain employees, athletes and volunteers

Q. What tips do you have for women looking to progress to leadership roles in sport?

Build your networks and seek out informal mentors and champions. Educate yourself on key issues and drivers within the sector and form your own views and opinions on these. Look at your existing skills set that you may have acquired from outside the Sports sector and see how you can use them to add value / bring additional skills to sports. Be confident and don’t be afraid to be rejected; don’t limit your ambitions

Q. What role do you think male colleagues and leaders have to play in order to help address gender diversity in sport?

It is important that they receive training and support on what can be complex issues, and provide visible, measured and consistent support. It is equally important that women engage men in the discussion in the area to avoid alienation); Its about he4she but also she4he.

Q. How far do you think progress towards boardroom gender diversity is having a positive impact on organisations in the sport sector?

Progress towards boardroom gender diversity is helping to drive change in the Sports sector as female leaders are able to transfer skills and experience across into the sport sector as they take up non-executive and executive positions. They are able to challenge the status quo around the Board table and in recruitment practices as well as language, culture and behaviours.

Q. Is there space for collaboration between sports in advancing and developing the next generation of female board members?

Yes; as in the corporate sector where there is cross-company / cross-industry collaboration – it is important that a pipeline of talent is identified and supported. Collaboration will lead to better learnings and outcomes.

Q. Do you think quotas have any role to play in this debate? Do you have a strong feeing on either voluntary or mandatory quotas?

The sports sector has a number of challenges and to impose mandatory quotas would I think be detrimental at this stage. The Governance Code’s guidance on diversity and required compliance for funding from Sport England are resulting in a wholesale review of Board composition across NGBs, which in turn is and will continue to drive change. Transformational, behavioural and cultural change is not effective when imposed.

Q. How well do you think sport is progressing in terms of gender diversity in governance and the workforce compared to other sectors?

On the whole great progress is being made in gender diversity in governance & the workforce, with some sports leading the way e.g Triathlon, Rounders, Cricket, Golf to name but a few.

While our elite athletes and successes at Olympics have raised the profile of female sports stars, the media still underrepresents women’s sport and this needs to change