The Government has set a new target of a 40 per cent gender balance on sporting bodies to be achieved by the end of 2023.

This will apply to all sporting NGB’s in receipt of government funding and will come as a serious wake-up call to a number of our larger sports.

Sporting boards tend to grow organically with the passing of time but for many, this will require a brake on what has always been the case, and a serious move towards introducing leadership that reflects the makeup of modern society.

Speaking to Sport for Business this afternoon, Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers said that there was a carrot of doing the right thing and bringing on board a more balanced approach to the voices around the board room table. This would also be followed by a stick in terms of “consequences in terms of government support for those organisations that do not get their house in order.”

Progress will be monitored by Sport Ireland over the next 24 months and there will be an annual review at the end of 2022.

Eleven months ago we reported on the number of bodies that have taken a proactive approach in this area. The results were not great with only 17 of 67 bodies meeting the 40 per cent level.

Another 30 were at least halfway there but twenty had less than an 80/20 split.

The breakdown of this analysis shows that four organisations have achieved a full 50 per cent split. These are the Olympic Federation of Ireland, Fencing Ireland, Motor Cycling Ireland and Student Sport Ireland.

A further 13 are at the optimum level of at least 40 per cent representation for male and female board members. These are Basketball Ireland, Golf Ireland, Gymnastics Ireland, Irish Sailing, Irish Wheelchair Sport, The Ladies Gaelic Football Association, Mountaineering Ireland, National Community Games, Onakai, Special Olympics Ireland, Swim Ireland, Table Tennis Ireland and Paralympics Ireland.

Notable by their absence are the GAA and IRFU each with 11 and eight per cent female representation last year, and the FAI with 25 per cent.

It is not as impossible as some would say away from the microphones, but it does require a harder look at potential candidates than might have been the case.

The Leadership programmes for Women in Sport that was inspired by Swim Ireland and delivered by Lisa Clancy and Sarah O’Shea, has opened up a rich body of potential candidates for leadership positions and now is the time to activate that on both sides.

Join us tomorrow morning for a more detailed look at the rest of the initiatives announced as part of the Sports Action Plan 2021-2023.


Sport for Business Perspective

The speed of movement in some cases will be determined by the size of the stick that might be wielded for non-compliance. This is a project that only needs to happen once and then will then fit into a more natural selection cycle, just as it already does in so many areas of society, and is evidenced every day at this time of year by those we include in our 50 Women of Influence in Irish Sport.


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