8 March 2017

Women in Sport Launches Beyond 30% Campaign

Women in Sport today released its Beyond 30% report and launched a campaign to get the National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs) in the UK to broaden their focus from simply improving the gender diversity of their boards, to addressing diversity across their entire organisations and making wholescale cultural change.

The charity released the results of its seventh annual audit into the numbers and experiences of women on the board and in senior leadership roles in NGBs in England and Wales. The research shows that while the average number of women on NGB boards is 30%, in line with the new Code of Governance for Sport requirement, this masks wide-ranging variances in gender diversity in leadership across NGBs.

Women in Sport is calling on the NGBs to move beyond the 30% target for gender diversity on boards and to implement broader change to encourage women into the business of sport and to support their development. This, the charity believes, will be for the benefit of the NGBs’ bottom line, the whole workforce and sports participants.

Read and download the full report HERE.

Ruth Holdaway, CEO of Women in Sport, said: “The sport sector now clearly understands its responsibility to the public that funds it; its responsibility to be representative of that public. The sector also understands that gender diversity at leadership level is good for business.

“Yet even with this understanding women are still significantly underrepresented across the sector. This is why we believe it’s no longer about a target. It’s about how we make gender diversity in sports leadership sustainable. It’s time to move Beyond 30%.

“Women in Sport is committed to ensuring sport develops, and benefits from, female leadership. We’ll work with the whole sector; agitating, cajoling and supporting. It’s time to look beyond targets and at the working practices and culture of our organisations. And the time is coming for those who are blocking progress to move on. It’s time to go Beyond 30% – and to truly transform sport.”

Checklist for Change

In order to support the industry and enable progress to be made, Women in Sport has issued an updated Checklist for Change which identifies recommendations for NGBs across England and Wales, to help them address gender inequality:

1. Develop an effective recruitment and retention strategy which focuses on attracting diverse talent and nurturing it.

2. Promote a wide range of flexible working practices with the primary goal of attracting and retaining more women in the organisation, but which will, in fact, benefit everyone.

3. Involve both women and men in achieving the shared goal of gender equality.

4. Avoid gender stereotypes. They limit women to certain roles and exclude them from others, e.g. that of Performance Director.

5. Modernise organisational structures and practices to enable more women to rise through the organisation. This includes reconsidering rigid elections by male-dominated membership bodies which, in practice, have the effect of excluding some women from the board.

UK Sport CEO Liz Nicholl said: “As the nation’s high performance sports agency, UK Sport fully supports the Beyond 30% campaign from Women in Sport.

“Our new Code of Governance for Sport calls for increased skills and diversity in decision making, with a target of at least 30 per cent gender diversity on boards. We are pleased to see this is starting to be met across our sector and encouraged that sports are engaging with us on the issue but we know that more could and should be done in this area.

“There is no doubt that better skilled and better balanced boards will be better placed to make better decisions. This diversity of thought at Board level will also support good governance and help create the right conditions for sporting success.

“As we move on from the great successes of Rio 2016 and consider how the high performance system can become even stronger and more sustainable, we can see an exciting opportunity to draw in more diverse talent into leadership roles right across the sporting system.”

Sarah Powell, Chief Executive of Sport Wales, said: “We whole-heartedly support going beyond 30%. Diversity at leadership level needs to be intrinsic, part of an organisations DNA, and not an add-on or a retro-fitted concept.

“In Wales we hit the 30% average but within that are some quite profound variances. There are some forward-thinking NGBs in Wales who have realised the benefits of diversity and reflect this in their leadership roles. However, some sports are historically single-gender and struggle to break that mould and others struggle to attract and recruit the right candidates.

“Along with our partners, we need to be supporting our NGBs to see the benefits of diversity at leadership level and help them to identify the right people for the roles available. Not only does it bring a mix of experience and skill but it makes for a more sustainable future. If sport in Wales is to continue to thrive, our sports need to better mirror the communities they are a part of.”

Read and download the full Beyond 30% report HERE.