Page title

Intro

Introduction and background

Why are we focused on improving gender balance in sport and recreation?

Focusing on diversity and inclusion means Australians from all walks of life can participate in, and benefit from, an active lifestyle and connection to their communities.

All kinds of diversity make our communities rich and vibrant places, including diversity of background, culture, language, age, ability, and gender.

The department is focusing on increasing the gender balance in leadership roles in the sport and recreation sector due to:

  1. the potential impact of increasing gender balance is significant because women make up approximately 50% of the population;
  2. the high levels of female participation which are not yet reflected in leadership positions; and
  3. the belief that efforts SSAs/IROs take to make their organisations more inclusive of women will also make them more inclusive to other diverse groups.

Why is the Gender Diversity Case for Change needed?

The recently completed DLGSC Gender Diversity Project identified that a significant barrier to increased gender balance is the fact many people are unaware of, or don’t fully understand, the benefits and opportunities that increased gender balance can bring to their organisations.

Therefore DLGSC has developed the Gender Diversity ‘Case for Change’.

What is the purpose of the Gender Diversity Case for Change?

The purpose of the Gender Diversity Case for Change is to help sport and recreation organisations understand the business case for gender diversity, in order to motivate them to address gender inequality in their organisations.

The Case for Change is a key enabler of the cultural change required to improve gender balance within the sport and recreation sector.

For change to occur, sport and recreation organisations and other key stakeholders must “understand the effects of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as the underlying reasons for these dynamics. This understanding will allow for effective teams and workplaces, inclusive of all persons”. 1

Attract and retain top talent

  • Women make up almost half of the Australian workforce. Sport and recreation organisations need to consider how their organisation appeals to women in order to access a larger talent pool.
  • Organisations with a positive and inclusive culture, that offer gender equality policies and practices and flexible working arrangements, will attract a broader pool of talent.
  • Increased gender balance in leadership will encourage increased gender diversity in the organisation as a whole.
  • Gender balance lifts employee retention. Both men and women are more likely to remain with an organisation with an inclusive environment.

Enhance organisational performance

  • By increasing the gender diversity of Board members and leaders, sport and recreation organisations can:
    • enhance overall organisational and financial performance;
    • increase employee motivation and enhance the work environment;
    • reduce the risk of group think and improve decision making;
    • enable greater innovation, creativity and ability to adapt to change;
    • improve the effectiveness of Boards; and
    • enhance governance.

Platform for growth

  • Increasing gender diversity within sport and recreation organisations can lead to greater club capacity, sustainability, membership and volunteers.
  • Increased gender diversity in marketing and promotion teams is likely to improve marketing performance.
  • An active focus on creating an environment that is inclusive of women is also likely to be more attractive to female participants.

Meet community expectations

  • Sport and recreation organisations that meet community expectations around gender balance are likely to benefit from enhanced reputation and brand.
  • Boards and leadership teams that reflect the gender diversity of the sport and recreation sector will benefit from having women's views represented in the organisations’ values and strategy
  • Achieving gender balance in sport and recreation organisations will help to break down traditional gender stereotypes associated with sport
  • Greater gender diversity on sport and recreation Boards and in leadership can lead to increased transparency, improved ethical orientation, and enhanced corporate social responsibility.

Attract and retain top talent

Inclusive organisations are better able to attract top talent, and provide an environment where everyone is set up to succeed.

ThemeBenefit to sport and recreation organisationsResearch evidence
Access to talentWomen make up almost half of the Australian workforce, therefore it is important for sport and recreation organisations to consider how their organisation appeals to women in order to access a larger talent pool.Women now make up 46% of the workforce3 ; therefore, if organisations with low female representation do not prioritise or have strategies for increasing gender diversity in their workforce, they are less likely to attract 50% of the talent pool.
Attract talentSport and recreation organisations with a positive and inclusive culture that offer gender equality policies and practices and flexible working arrangements will be more appealing to both men and women, and thus will attract a broader pool of talent to the organisation.When workplaces are equally appealing to women and men, organisations have access to a larger talent pool. Employees value positive and inclusive workplace  cultures and environments that offer gender equality policies and practices, and flexible working arrangements. 4 Thus, by creating a more gender balanced, inclusive environment, with supporting policies and processes, organisations will be more appealing to both men and women.
Encourage women to fill management and leadership rolesIncreased gender diversity in leadership and governance roles within sport and recreation organisations will likely encourage increased female representation in other management and leadership roles across the organisation.An increase in the number of women in management positions within sporting organisations is shown to correspond with greater gender diversity of the department as a whole. 5 A US study provided statistical evidence of this, whereby the proportion of women coaching women’s teams increased when the athletic director was a woman. 6
Retention of talentGender balance lifts employee retention; both men and women are more likely to remain with a sport and recreation organisation with an  inclusive environment.

Research has shown that both men and women are more likely to remain with an organisation with a proactive ‘diversity’ climate as they perceive a concrete payoff to themselves by staying in an organisation they view as fair. 7

Turnover costs between 90 200% of the annual salary of the employee. 8 Gender balance  decreases turnover from both male and female employees, making it an effective retention strategy. 8 Gender balance is not a zero sum game, it lifts employee retention.

Enhance organisational performance

There is a demonstrated link between increased gender diversity on boards and improved organisational and financial performance, enhanced governance and benefits to culture and morale.

ThemeBenefit to sport and recreation organisationsResearch evidence
Organisational performanceGender balance is positively associated with overall enhanced organisational performance; increased gender diversity in Board members and leaders will likely improve the performance of sport and recreation organisations.Organisations with more women in senior management score more highly on organisational criteria such as leadership, direction, accountability, coordination and control, innovation, capability, motivation, work environment) than organisations with no women at the top. 9
Financial performanceSport and recreation organisations with greater gender balance in Board members and leaders will likely experience improved financial performance.

Companies within the top quartile for gender balance are 15% more likely to have higher financial returns than their national industry median. 10

Companies with a more even gender split have 14% higher revenue than others. 11

Improved decision makingA number of the WA SSA/IRO Boards and leadership teams are homogenous in make up, e.g. male dominated, all ex players. By increasing the diversity (e.g. gender diversity) of Board members and leaders, the SSAs/IROs can reduce the risk of group think and improve decision making.

“Diverse workforces tend to produce a more holistic analysis of the issues an organisation faces and spurs greater effort and motivation, leading to improved decision making”. 12

A lack of diversity within a boardroom results in a “manila mindset to solving corporate problems” 13 that can lead to group think issues. 14

Gender diversity can be beneficial in situations involving complex tasks, which require creative decision making. 15

Innovation, creativity and agilityIncreased gender balance has been shown to enable greater innovation, creativity and ability to adapt to change.

Gender balanced teams are associated with higher levels of innovation, 16 and are more agile and better able to adapt to change. 2

More gender balanced teams are better in promoting an environment where innovation can flourish compared to teams of one particular gender. 17

Board effectivenessSport and recreation Boards with greater gender balance will likely operate more effectively and have greater strategic control .

Overall, gender diverse boards have increased levels of meeting attendance, boardroom involvement and corporate oversight. 18

Improved gender balance is positively related to board effectiveness and strategic control. 19

Enhanced governanceIncreasing the number of women on sport and recreation Boards will likely improve governance due to the different skillsets they are likely to bring and through providing the representative view of a stakeholder group (women) that makes up a significant proportion of many sports.Governance is likely to improve when women are appointed to boards because they bring ‘value adding’ talents and represent stakeholders who have previously been excluded. 20

Platform for growth

Diversity of thought in organisational leadership provides a foundation for growth in membership, sponsorship and participation particularly if lessons from other sports and sectors are leveraged.

ThemeBenefit to sport and recreation organisationsResearch evidence
Increased growthIncreasing gender diversity within sport and recreation organisations can lead to greater club capacity, sustainability, membership and volunteers .A research project looking at how (dis)ability, gender and cultural diversity is managed in junior sport found that sporting clubs recognise multiple benefits of diversity, including club capacity, sustainability, increased membership and more volunteers. 21
Through increasing gender diversity in marketing and promotion teams within sporting organisations, the performance of these teams is likely to improve.The marketing and promotions divisions within sporting organisations have traditionally been male dominated. 1 There is growing evidence, however, that such homogeneity limits how well a group performs. 5
Sporting organisations could potentially improve their marketing performance by altering their current practices and increasing the gender diversity of their marketing and promotions staff. 5 Indeed, such gender diversity is seen at the University of California Davis, an institution that regularly receives awards for their marketing and promotion efforts. 1
An active focus on creating an environment that is inclusive of women is likely to benefit the organisation in terms of increasing participation.The Australian Football League (AFL) experienced a successful inaugural year of the 2017 NAB AFL Women's competition (AFLW), drawing strong attendance figures as well as achieving increased participation at a community level in all states. In 2017, overall participation increased 10.24% with a particular increase from female participation of 22%. 730 new female community club teams were formed and females now account for 30% of all participation 22

Meet community expectations

The leadership of sport and recreation bodies reflects the organisation and their players, coaches, umpires, families and communities, and meets community expectations around gender balance.

ThemeBenefit to sport and recreation organisationsResearch evidence
Organisation reputationSport and recreation organisations that meet community expectations around gender balance are likely to benefit from enhanced organisation reputation and brand.Gender balance has positive implications for organisation reputation and brand. 23
Reflects gender diversity in the sectorBoards and leadership teams that reflect the gender diversity of the sport and recreation sector will benefit from having women's views represented in the organisations’ values and strategy.

A significant number of girls and women play sport worldwide; nevertheless, they are represented minimally if at all at the highest level of the sports' governance. This means that their voice is excluded from the shaping of core organisational values and the creation of a strategic vision for the sport. 24

Gender equal representation at board level benefits sporting organisations as the interest of all stakeholders, men and women, can be better considered and enhanced. 24

To enable ‘good governance’, the Board of an organisation should reflect the diversity of the community that they wish to serve. As VicSport commented, “to be committed to including more women and girls; and represent the diversity of our community as a whole, the individuals charged with that responsibility also need to reflect the broader community.” 21

Breaking down cultural norms and gender stereotypes in sportAchieving gender balance in sporting organisations will help to break down the traditional gender stereotypes associated with sport , and will support the development of respectful relationships between men and women.

Sporting organisations play a significant role in helping to shape community values, attitudes and behaviour. 25 Through achieving gender balance on Boards and in leadership, sporting organisations will not only benefit from improved performance but contribute to broader social outcomes by breaking down cultural norms and challenging traditional gender stereotypes in sport. 26

There is a proven link between gender equality and building respectful relationships between men and women. 25 Creating a gender balanced, inclusive culture within the sport and recreation organisation will likely reduce harassment and social stereotyping, 25 which is likely to result in increased female participation rates.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethical OrientationGreater gender diversity on the boards of sport and recreation organisations can lead to greater transparency and improved ethical orientation.Many feel that the presence of women on boards adds a sense of moral obligation to an organisation’s decision making process, 27 which can in turn improve boardroom transparency and limit the likelihood of corporate scandal. 28
Sport and recreation organisations with female board representation are likely to benefit from improved Corporate Social Responsibility.

Boards that closely match the makeup of the general population provide improved corporate social performance. 29

Women's board representation is positively associated with corporate social responsibility and there is a clear correlation between increased levels of female directors and a company's involvement in corporate social responsibility activities. 30

Gender diversity: key benefits summary

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency provides that irrespective of sector or size of organisation, a diverse and inclusive workforce generates tangible benefits, such as increased efficiency, productivity, innovation and employee engagement. These can be broken down into four key areas. 2

References

  1. Cunningham, G. B., 2015. Diversity and Inclusion in Sport Organizations . Scottsdale, AZ: Holcomb
  2. Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2016. The business case for gender equality. Workplace Gender Equality Agency, p.2.
  3. Workplace Gender Equality Agency, “Gender workplace statistics at a glance”, August 2016, https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/Stats_at_a_Glance.pdf
  4. Diversity Council Australia (2012), Employers take note: men want flexible working too! Viewed 15 September 2016. https://www.dca.org.au/News/News/Employers take note: men want flexible working too!/293
  5. Cunningham, G. B., 2008. Creating and Sustaining Gender Diversity in Sport Organisations, Sex Roles, 58: 136 145. DOI 10.1007/s11199 007 9312 3
  6. Acosta, R. V., & Carpenter, L. J. (2006). Women in intercollegiate sport: A longitudinal study twenty nine year update 1977 2006 . Unpublished manuscript, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn,
  7. Kaplan, D M, Wiley, J W, & Maertz, C P (2011), The role of calculative attachment in the relationship between diversity climate and retention, Human Resource Management, 50(2), 271 287 as cited in Workplace Gender Equality Agency, “The business case for gender equality”, September 2016, https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/d efa ult/files/wgea business case for gender equality.pdf
  8. Society for Human Resource Management (2008), Retaining talent. A guide to analysing employee turnover, viewed 6 September 2016, https://www.shrm.org/about/foundation/research/documents/retaining%20talent --%20final.pdf as cited in Workplace Gender Equality Agency, “The business case for gender equality”, September 2016, https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/wgea business case for gender equality.pdf
  9. McKinsey & Company (2010). Women at the top of corporations: Making it happen. Women Matter 2010. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Business%20Functions/Organization/Our%20Insights/Women%20at%20the%20top%20of%20corporations%20Making%20it%20happen/Women%20at
    %20the%20top%20of%20corporations%20Making%20it%20happen.ashx
  10. McKinsey (2015), Diversity Matters, http://www.mckinsey.com/business functions/organization/ourinsights/why diversity matters a s cited in Workplace Gender Equality Agency, “The business case for gender equality”, September 2016, https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/wgea business case for gender equality.pdf
  11. Badal, S., and Harter, J. 2013. Gender Diversity, Business Unit Engagement, and Performance. Journal of Leadership & Organisational Studies, 21 (4).
  12. Centre for Ethical Leadership (2013), Building a Business Case for Gender Diversity, viewed 11 July 2018, https://celedu.au/our research building a business case for gender diversity
  13. Burgess, Z., and Tharenou, P., (2002). Women board directors: Characteristics of the few. Journal of Business Ethics, 37 (1): 39 49.
  14. Larkin, M., Bernardi, B., & Bosco, S., ‘Board Gender Diversity, Corporate Reputation and Market Performance’, The International Journal of Banking and Finance, 2012.
  15. Kravitz, D. A., (2003). More women in the workplace: Is there a payoff in firm performance? The Academy of Management Executive, 17 (3): 148 149.
  16. Dezso, C L and Ross, D G (2012), ‘Does female representation in top management improve firm performance? A panel data investigation’, Strategic Management Journal, vol 33, pp1072 1089 as cited in Workplace Gender Equality Agency, “The business case for gender equality”, September 2016, https://www.wgea.gov.au/s ite s/default/files/wgea business case for gender equality.pdf
  17. Gratton, L, Kelan, E, Voigt, A, Walker, L and Wolfram H J (2007), Innovative Potential: Men and Women in Teams, Executive Summary; Credit Suisse (2012), Gender Diversity and Corporate Performance, Credit Suisse Research Institute.
  18. Adams, R. B., and Ferreira, D., (2009). Women in the boardroom and their impact on governance and performance. Journal of Financial Economics, 94 (2): 291 309.
  19. Nielsen, S., and Huse, M., (2010). The Contribution of Women on Boards of Directors: Going beyond the Surface. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 8 (2): 136 148.
  20. Terjesen, S., Sealy, R., and Singh, V., (2009). Women Directors on Corporate Boards: A Review and Research Agenda. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 17 (3), 320 327.
  21. VicSport, 2018. Benefits of Inclusion and Diversity. [online] Available at: https://vicsport.com.au/inclusion and diversity
  22. The Australian Football League. (2018) Australian Football League Annual Report 201 7. Available at: http://www.afl.com.au/afl hq/annual reports
  23. Bear, S., Rahman, N., and Post, C., (2010). The impact of board diversity and gender composition on corporate social responsibility and firm reputation. Journal of Business Ethics, 97 (2): 207 221.
  24. Adriaanse, J., and Schofield. 2014. The Impact of Gender Quotas on Gender Equality in Sport Governance. Journal of Sport Management, 28 (5 ): 485 497.
  25. Rechter, J., 2012. The Power of Sport and Importance of Gender Equality. [online] Available at: https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/media and resources/opinion pieces/the power of sport and importance of gender equality
  26. VicSport. 2018. Play Board: Sport, Culture and Gender Diversity . Available at: https://vicsport.com.au/blog/1250/play board sport culture and gender diversity#_ftnref7
  27. Arfken, D. E., Bellar, S. L., and Helms, M. M., (2004). The ultimate glass ceiling revisited: The presence of women on corporate boards. Journal of Business Ethics, 50 (2): 177 186.
  28. Larkin, M., Bernardi, B., & Bosco, S., ‘Board Gender Diversity, Corporate Reputation and Market Performance’, The International Journal of Banking and Finance, 2012.
  29. Bernardi, R. A., Bosco, S. M., and Vassill, K. M., (2006). Does female representation of boards of directors associate with Fortune's “100 best companies to work for” list? Business and Society, 45 (2): 235 248.
  30. Byron, K., and Post, C. 2016. Women on Boards of Directors and Corporate Social Performance: A Meta Analysis. Corporate Governance: An International Review, 24 (4) 4): 428 442.

Related pages

Page reviewed 25 June 2019