Women occupy less than 20% of sport’s boardrooms says report17 July 2014


The ‘Gender and Balance in Global Sport’ report examined the gender datasets of over 600 sporting bodies, including International and National Olympic Committees (NOCs), International and National Paralympic Committees, Paralympic Sports Federations, and the Commonwealth Games Federation and Country Associations, and revealed that among the organisations’ 3088 board members only 566 are women (18.3%).

Speaking at the launch, Executive Director of Women on Boards, Claire Braund said:

“Sport is big business and plays a huge role in the economies and culture of many countries. Fewer female voices at the top level in sport will result in female athletes remaining second class citizens in terms of salaries, sponsorship and media coverage”.

20% target in 2005
Prior to the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the International Olympic Committee set a target for NOCs to have at least 20% female board members by 2005.

Nevertheless, the new report shows that NOCs have still only reached 16.5% female board membership overall.

“This Report highlights the need for urgent action in the multi-billion dollar world of sport to address the twin issues of better governance and gender imbalance on governing boards. Increasing levels of participation and success by females in all sporting arenas is ‘raising the bar’ when it comes to acceptable numbers of women in key decision making roles on sports boards.” added the Claire Braund.

The Women on Boards’ Executive Director also stressed that improved governance, in particular in board election and selection processes, is a key element to address the poor number of women on most sports boards.

“In the majority of organisations board members are elected by members or via nomination from a club, regional or country sports body. This election process rewards those who have participated in elite sport or served time with the sports’ governing bodies rather than those with the skill sets for the job.”

The report, which aims to deliver a baseline dataset on the participation of women on sports governing bodies in the lead up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (23 July – 03 August), also outlines a series of recommendations for the Olympic and sports movement.

These include:

  • Mandate governance processes and tie compliance to funding outcomes where appropriate.
  • Pay particular attention to the composition and operation of the board, including:
    • mandated terms of office;
    • at least two independent board members; and
    • an independent chair of the audit committee
  • Require transparency in disclosing the gender balance on the boards of all National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and related member groups, and collect and publish the data.
  • Lead by example – the IOC, CGF, ANOC, IPC and other top level bodies should set voluntary gender targets for their boards and committees for others to follow.
  • Disclose the funding provided to male and female athletes.
  • Disclose the gender composition of teams at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.

FIFA women