The final conference of the SUCCESS project entitled “Sport Governance and Women in Leadership” was held on 13 September 2017 in Bratislava, Slovakia. Participants of the conference were the representatives of National Olympic Committees and National Federations from 13 EU Member States.
„Coming from the business environment, it was a big surprise for me that gender imbalance in leadership positions in sport organisations is even more substantial than in the corporate world”, said the president of the Slovak Olympic Committee Anton Siekel in his welcome speech. „Therefore, I was glad that our NOC was able to be a part of an educational programme that helped women in sport organisations to acquire necessary leadership skills to ensure higher numbers of women in leadership positions. I learned from the feedback from the Slovak participants of the programme that the value of the programme was not only in the acquired knowledge but mainly in the community that this programme has created”, he added.
The main purpose of the conference was to present the project and influence decision-makers in Europe. Project manager Alma Papić presented the objectives, activities and results of the SUCCESS project to participants, as well as the guidelines for organisers of training programmes for female leaders in sport organisations. The purpose of these guidelines is to assist leaders to develop, implement and maintain a system of governance that supports gender balance in management and leadership roles, to encourage them to actively work to attract an appropriate gender balance in management and leadership roles, to assist them to develop and implement strategic actions, e.g. educational programmes for women, and to provide practical guidance for organisers.
The keynote speaker Morana Paliković Gruden, member of the EOC Gender Equality in Sport Commission and the vice-president of the NOC of Croatia, emphasised that „Sport organisations must continue their work on good governance and gender equality. Although participation numbers of women in sports continues to grow, there has not been a corresponding addition in the number of women in top-level administrative positions within the sports industry. Due to this trend, the lack of the female voices at the decision-making levels of sport enterprises is becoming more visible. While women have made notable progress in leadership in business corporations, little has changed in the sport industry with still less women than men in decision-making positions in sports management. Women in sport organisations are more likely to be hired into positions with less power, less pay and less opportunities for advancement.“
„Among the most important requirement for a board to be effective is that the board promotes equality and diversity“, said Morana Paliković Gruden. „At the same time, the board members must have the necessary attributes, skills and competence required to carry out the role effectively with skills being regularly assessed and performance evaluated.“ Moreover, „The overall aim of strategic actions should be to achieve a full gender balance in the representation in decision-making positions in sport governing bodies“.
Member of the IOC Olympic Education Commission Thierry Zintz gave a presentation on the role of education in good governance and gender-related issues. He explained how can good governance – including diversity in management and leadership positions in sport organisations – be improved with and through education, and why it is important to use education as a tool for the improvement of governance, which shall be understood as a process rather than as a set norm that can be achieved at one time or another. He also presented the key research findings regarding diversity in decision-making positions in sport organisations.
Lead researcher on the project entitled „Understanding and redefining the role of men in achieving gender equity in sport leadership“ Donna de Haan presented the research results and talked about the roadmap to creating gender equality in sport governance.
During the workshop on recommendations that were developed as a result of the research carried out for the International Olympic Committee, participants had the opportunity to discuss about them and give their input.
Representative of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of the Slovak Republic Ľubica Rozborová presented the national strategy for gender equality.
Conference ended with participants agreeing on 8 key recommendations:
1. National sport organisations (NSOs) need to continue to develop, implement and maintain a system of governance that supports gender balance in decision-making positions across associated organisations.
2. NSOs need to actively work to encourage and support the involvement of women in decision-making bodies to achieve an appropriate gender balance.
3. NSOs need to develop and implement strategic actions, such as leadership development trainings for women, fostering networking and supporting learning communities.
4. It is vital that NSOs are committed to the European objective of minimum 40% of women and men in executive boards and in the management of professional sport administrations and governmental sport bodies.
5. NSOs need to use all means to change the prevailing organisational culture.
6. It is essential for both men and women to be aware of the barriers to a more balanced representation, and to work together to minimise them.
7. National governments and the European Commission should allocate more resources for the implementation of strategic actions by NSOs.
8. NSOs need to fully realise that without diversity in their decision-making bodies they can never achieve optimal organisational performance.
National Olympic Committees participating in the SUCCESS project will present these recommendations to the members of the executive boards.
Conference speeches and presentations can be downloaded here:BACK