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Governing bodies with few female board members should make changes immediately, says Women in Sport

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Sports national governing bodies with low female representation on their boards should make changes immediately and not wait for vacancies to arise, according to Women in Sport.

The equality charity published its latest report, which highlighted a continual lack of powerful female voices in the sport sector, and said it was “no longer acceptable” for boards to wait for positions to become vacant to appoint qualified females, particularly if “gender levels consistently fall below or board the 30 per cent level”.

Overall, the percentage of women in leadership roles in sport was at around the 30 per cent mark.

While the number of chief executive had increased over the last seven years – up to 24 per cent from 15 per cent – with the likes of Sally Munday and Jenny Fromer heading up England Hockey and BaseballSoftballUK, the percentage of women in senior leadership roles had decreased from 42 per cent in 2014 to 36 per cent.

The report highlighted a major gap at middle-management level, which is reducing the pool of female talent for senior executives and board members at a later stage.

As a result, Women in Sport’s Beyond 30 Per Cent Report has laid out a number of recommendations around proactive and transparent recruiting, flexible working solutions and confidence training for women keen to move up the ladder in sport.

Of the latter, the body urged the Department of Culture, Media and Sport invest in “formal leadership development opportunities for women”, particularly smaller national governing bodies.

Ruth Holdaway, chief executive of Women in Sport, said the body would be “agitating, cajoling and supporting” sports bodies to “look beyond targets” and invest in their female workforce.

“The sport sector now clearly understands its responsibility to the public that funds it; its responsibility to be representative of the public,” she added.

“The sector also understands that gender diversity at leadership level is good for business.”

Last year, UK Sport and Sport England published A Code for Good Governance, which stipulated that governing bodies in receipt of public funds should have at least 30 per cent gender balance on their boards.

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Sports national governing bodies with low female representation on their boards should make changes immediately and not wait for vacancies to arise, according to Women in Sport.
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Holdaway said governing bodies needed to 'look beyond targets' to make sustainable change
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