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Women in Sport calls for action to ensure progress towards gender diversity in leadership is maintained


Women in Sport calls for action to ensure progress towards gender diversity in leadership is maintained

Latest research shows that positive steps in gender diversity at board level are not supported by sustainable workforce development. Women in Sport calls for support of female executives to ensure progress is not lost.

The sixth annual Trophy Women? report, published by Women in Sport, shows that while overall female representation in sport’s boardrooms has reached an average threshold of 30%, progress made at the highest level masks continued barriers to women’s involvement at the highest echelons of sporting governance.

Funded by Comic Relief for three years and supported by Sport England and UK Sport in 2015, the report identifies issues – including challenging cultures, rigid and narrow governance structures and practical barriers – that must be rectified in order to create a long-term solution to boardroom gender inequality.

Women in Sport’s 2015 leadership audit found:

  • The boards of almost half of the 63 sport organisations surveyed don’t meet the 25% gender balance guideline
  • Although all publicly-funded sport NGBs have at least one woman on their board, 16% have no woman at executive leadership level (excluding CEO)
  • Clear barriers to a sustainable pipeline of women in leadership still remain, ranging from cultural factors to governance, process and practical considerations

While acknowledging that positive progress made to date should be celebrated, Women in Sport believes that more must be done to address underlying barriers that prevent many women from taking active roles in sport’s leadership tier.

Women in Sport is set to lead discussions based on its findings, building upon the established momentum in order to create sustainable progress. The research points towards developing the following areas:

  • Addressing cultural pre-conceptions
  • Better management of the pipeline of talent
  • Fair and transparent recruitment
  • Reviewing governance structures to ensure they promote diversity
  • Addressing practical challenges for women
  • Ensuring ongoing career success and satisfaction

Commenting on the research, Ruth Holdaway, chief executive of Women in Sport said:

“Now is the time for clear and decisive action to ensure that, in the future, sport’s boardrooms representative for women. It is simply not good enough that, six years on from our first Trophy Women? report, female executives are still reporting the same barriers in attaining senior roles in the sector".

This is a shortened version of a longer article.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


Article type



Women in Sport


Tuesday, November 10, 2015 - 23:00