Farrer & Co Women in Sport - Report - Page 4
If you gave me a governmental
wand, I would place a PE instructor
in every primary school.
Another key milestone, in the UK
at least, was the introduction of the
UK Sports Governance Code in 2016.
This required sporting national
governing bodies (NGBs) in receipt of
central government funding to meet
a 30% target for both male and female
board members, or risk losing their
funding unless they were able to justify
why they were unable to do so.
Here at Farrer & Co, we aim to
provide thought leadership on a range
of issues, including Women in Sport.
We recognise that increasing the
influence of women in sport is not only
about doing ‘the right thing’, but it is the
savvy road to both commercial success
and building a legacy.
The research set out in this paper
shows that some 72% of NGBs have
reached the 30% target, with many of
the others not far off and all of them
working towards either 30% or parity.
At the same time, football, rugby and
cricket (ie the three major participation
ball sports in this country) have all seen
a surge of interest in their respective
women’s games, and not without
considerable on-field success.
In particular, women’s rugby is one of
the fastest growing sports, not just in
the UK but internationally, with World
Rugby reporting a 60% increase in
participation globally since 2013.
In this paper, both The FA and the
English Rugby Football Union have
very kindly contributed significantly in
explaining their thinking and strategies
to grow their respective women’s games,
with both placing their women’s game
at the heart of their organisation’s
The importance of this cannot
be ignored. As Baroness Campbell
elegantly explains, “it is about more
than just sporting interest. Sport is able
to play a critical role in the wider fight
against obesity and in striving for
greater mental health resilience.
“If you gave me a governmental
wand, I would place a PE instructor in
every primary school. Health, resilience,
the life-long lessons of teamwork and
the identification of talent – just four
benefits of sporting endeavour – would
be hugely enhanced, saving billions
while creating similar sums at the
In the UK at the end of 2019, we can
see NGBs very largely driving change
in diversity and inclusion at board level,
themselves driven by regulation, and
governing bodies with their women’s
game at the heart of their over-arching
strategies. But yet, the three major sports
in this country have left their professional
clubs a country-mile behind.
Our research shows that the
professional clubs in football, cricket
and rugby remain very, very significantly
behind the curve in terms of diverse
boards with appropriate female
membership. Only one Premier League
Club and one Premiership Club meet
the 30% target, while no Championship
Club or first-class county cricket side
reaches that milestone.
Women in Sport – Levelling the playing field