Report on Women in Sport

Despite a palpable change in attitude towards women in prominent roles in UK industry, a worrying report claims that over the past the past three years the number of women getting top roles within UK sporting bodies has nose-dived by 6%.

Women in Sport, the group formed to empower and promote women and girls in sport, understandably declared the findings “extremely concerning”.

The Women in Sport survey found around half of the 68 Sport England and UK Sport-funded national governing bodies have fewer than 30% of non-executive director roles filled by women.

Under government guidelines, which came into effect in April, those organisations must have at least 30% women on their board, or risk losing funding.

The findings ahead of this deadline showed nine of the 68 organisations had no women in senior leadership roles below chief executive level with the overall the number of women on the boards of governing bodies is 30% on average, with 18% of chairs female and 23% of chief executive officers are women.

At England Netball, 80% of senior leaders are female.

Recently the Football Association announced that it would reduce its Board from 12 to 10 members, with women accounting for at least three of those positions by the close of 2018. Soon after, Danielle Carter, who plays for Arsenal and England, joined the council representing BAME football communities whilst Kate Tinsley, CEO of Buildbase Group, recently came on board as the new Independent Non-Executive Director.

“Women in Sport is also extremely concerned by the decrease in the number of women in senior leadership roles,” the report concluded. “While organisations should continue to tackle the diversity of their boards, they also need to broaden their focus, addressing diversity within their organisations more generally.”

Ruth Holdaway, Women in Sport chief executive said: “There is positivity in the fact that in the seven years we have been doing this audit, we have seen an increase in the number of women at every level of leadership in sport.

“But now we are seeing the figures plateau and for non-executive directors on boards, the figure has sat at around 30% for the last couple of years.

“That is an average across all of the governing bodies, that masks a disparity, some do better than that and some do worse than that. Half of the national bodies are hitting the 30% target, the other half have work to do.”

Leading sport recruitment agency part of Sporting Group International (SGI) champions Women in Sport’s stance with 40% of their leadership roles within the group currently filled by women.

Out in India, where the country is ranked as having the third lowest percentage of women in leadership roles in the world, SGI’s youth football academy is run by Joan Listle who is their Operations Director.

“We employ Joan to run our Academy, not because she is woman, but during the recruitment process she was the stand out candidate and is proving to be excellent at her role, ” Adrian Wright, CEO of Sporting Group admits.

“However, it will be remiss not to admit that she probably has to work harder to prove herself with the Indian culture. Hopefully that attitude will change sooner rather than later.”