Report shows small increase in number of female leaders within English sport

The Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation has reported an increase in the percentage of women occupying roles on England’s sports governing bodies. This is now 27%, compared to 23% the year before. Despite this increase, the number of women are still under-represented, reported Sports Management this month. For the full story, please read here.

This under-representation of women has spurred calls to set a target of 30% for every board in England – currently only 23 out of 45 boards are meeting the existing target of 25%.

Sex discrimination in sport and fitness

What’s our opinion at 4Leisure Recruitment?

We certainly get asked by our clients why we don’t get more female applicants for certain types of roles. In particular at general management level where there is still a considerable imbalance in the male to female ratio.

There are also some differences between company cultures that have an effect on the success of women at a senior level and, unfortunately we still come across plenty of businesses with an “old boys” culture that makes it extremely difficult for women to prosper unless they are of a particularly aggressive nature!

We are pleased to report that the vast majority of our clients are proactively searching for female talent to help balance their teams and cultures. However, we do have to consider whether these roles suit themselves to family women. The unsociable hours are one barrier that is often quoted by potential female candidates keen to balance home life and a career. The demands of operational roles in our industry often don’t allow flexibility in working hours making them less appealing than those in other sectors.

It’s not just about discrimination. If the business world wants to continue to progress and benefit from talented businesswomen, then companies may ironically have to stop trying to compare everything as equal and actually look for ways to make the work more accessible for women. In some cases, surely the inconvenience of change is outweighed by the results that can be achieved?

What do you think? Do you think the sports and leisure industry is off-putting to female professionals? What’s your own experience?