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Governance code expected to address lack of gender diversity on sports boards

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Improving gender diversity on the boards of sport governing bodies is likely to be addressed prominently in the government’s sport governance code, according to the chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

Talking at at an event co-hosted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance and equality body Women in Sport, Emma Boggis said that while she couldn’t be 100 per cent certain about the content of the UK Sports Governance Code she was “pretty sure it will be very strong on gender diversity”.

“I think we can be absolutely confident [the document] will say something about gender representation,” Boggis added.

Due to be published in September 2016, the UK Sports Governance Code is expected to lay out best practice for the governing bodies which operate with the aid of government grants distributed by UK Sport and Sport England.

First referenced in the government sport strategy – Sporting Future – which was published last December, the code will build on the requirement of all sports board to have 25 per cent female board representation by 2017.

Ruth Holdaway, chief executive of Women in Sport, told delegates at Race to the top: Raising the bar for gender equality on sports boards that the aim should be at least 30 per cent and that there was still a “significant way to go” as half of public funded sport governing bodies had not hit the 25 per cent target with just a year to go.

A set of recommendations published by Women in Sport last year (Checklist for Change) was referenced in the government sport strategy as a tool to increase representation.

Recommendations – including appointing non-executive directors from outside the world of sport – had been taken on board by British Wrestling, which sent representatives to the event to tell its own story of change. The body went from having only 11 per cent female representation on the board to almost 50-50 in less than a year.

Jem Lawson, the chair of British Wrestling, said that he encountered the positive “impact and contribution” women made to the board during his time at British Triathlon and so he cast his net wider to find diverse board members with the help of Women in Sport.

“We’ve done the easy bit, we’ve made three very good [female] appointment but none of the people we have appointed has non-exec experience,” he said. “We have to make sure they’re on-boarded properly.”

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Improving gender diversity on the boards of sport governing bodies is likely to be addressed prominently in the government’s sport governance code, according to the chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
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Boggis said she was 'absolutely confident' that gender diversity would be addressed prominently in the code
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