Female representation on the Board of Cricket Australia is set to double by 2022, even as the governing body works through an increasingly lengthy and complicated process of filling two vacancies for directors in the wake of the Newlands scandal and Longstaff cultural review last year.
Within the Press For Progress annual report on female involvement in cricket, to be formally released by CA on Monday, is the target of increasing the percentage of women in leadership positions at CA to 40%. With five of 11 members of CA’s executive team – head of community cricket and interim head of team performance Belinda Clark, head of legal Christine Harman, head of public affairs Karina Keisler, head of people Raj Tapper, and head of commercial Steph Beltrame – already female, it is the composition of the Board that needs most change.
Currently the nine-member Board features two female directors in Jacqui Hey and Michelle Tredenick, with Hey serving as chair of the Board’s nominations committee for the two vacancies left by the resignation of the former chairman David Peever and the former Board director Mark Taylor in 2018.
However, it remains to be seen whether CA is able to, while trying to keep the six state associations satisfied with their appointments, meet their target of moving up to four female directors before the 2022 target date. The two new directors are not expected to be finalised before the AGM in October this year.
“We don’t have enough women in leadership positions in cricket yet,” the chief executive Kevin Roberts said at Junction Oval on Sunday. “We’ve got over 40% of the employed positions in cricket filled by women, which is fantastic, but we’re not at 40% yet or more at a leadership level.
“So we’ve set targets to press for progress within cricket by 2022 to make sure that we are committed as a sport on this path to gender equality. It’s important we do stop and smell the roses, maybe I’m being a little bit harsh, but as with all people in cricket we won’t stop until we get to that final destination.”
Roberts was himself successful in taking on the role of chief executive as the successor to James Sutherland ahead of a female candidate in the WACA chief executive Christina Matthews. Asked during the summer to reflect on whether CA was ready for a female CEO, Matthews expressed doubt.
“It’s hard to say, isn’t it, because the person who got it, they deemed the better person. I am a CEO in WA for a start – it’s a long way from the east coast from seeing day to day what happens here,” Matthews told SEN Radio in December. “I had an interesting experience in the process of talking to people about when they knew I was applying, females would go: ‘Fantastic, you would be great’, and men would go: ‘Really, you think you’re up for that?’ So, it kind of told me that maybe we are not quite ready for that yet.
“I got taken seriously because after it was all over, I got a call from a couple of board members to kind of compliment me and say the impression I made on them and that’s always nice but it’s an institution, it’s not easy to change an institution.”
The need to increase female representation at the highest level of Australian cricket’s decision-making is becoming increasingly clear at a time when other sports are also making similar moves. The AFL Commission recently appointed its third female director, Professor Helen Milroy, who will also become the first indigenous representative on the league’s top table. The Press For Progress report outlined how more needed to be done to encourage a female presence in cricket as a viable career path.
“There is strong awareness of our commitment to improve gender diversity across all levels of the Australian Cricket workforce,” the report states. “The most significant gains over the past 12 months occurred at a governance level (+6%); only one [state] Board with a single female director remains. Slight gains were also observed across Executive Management, driven by improvements at Cricket Australia (+28% to 50%), and Total Employees, thanks to the rapid growth of the ICC T20 World Cup Local Organising Committee.
“Disappointingly, a slight decline was observed in Other Management – a key measure of emerging leaders, and a factor to be carefully monitored. Commitment to a targeted program of activity to drive further progress is less consistent. Embedding a systematic action plan, alongside a commitment to change, remains a priority.
“Encouraging applications from female candidates remains a key challenge. Cricket needs to improve its reputation amongst female candidates; effective recruitment practices only help if talented women are interested in considering sport – and particularly cricket – as an attractive career path.”