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The latest Leaders Meet: Diversity Series conversation, focused on women in sport, took place in London on the eve of International Women’s Day 2020. The series, a partnership between Leaders and Facebook, aims to accelerate the pace of change across the industry and the sharing of stories and practical insights.
This time, the conversations centred on three key topics: leadership, how to advance systemic change within organisations and the future of the industry. Full recorded versions of the livestream, broadcast on Friday 6th March, are available below.
Liz Nicholl’s leadership lessons
International Netball Federation president Liz Nicholl is one of the pioneers of British sport and in an illuminating conversation with host Jeanette Kwakye, she discussed her career and in particular her time at UK Sport, where she was CEO for the best part of ten years. She described how her approach of ‘advise, guide, enable and support’ is as applicable in her new role, where she oversees the national netball federations, as it was when she was at UK Sport, working with all of the UK’s sports governing bodies. Nicholl also opened up on the inner doubt she experienced and then combated before taking on the top job at UK Sport, the organisation that controls much of the funding of high performance sport in the UK. And she revealed the power of a well-chosen, well-timed word or two of encouragement.
Advancing Systemic Change and Imposter Syndrome
The second session of the morning examined how sports organisations, many with historic and well-established structures, should go about making the systemic changes required to become truly diverse places to work. World Rugby’s General Manager for women’s rugby, Katie Sadleir, and the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) Chief Finance and Operating Officer, Sue Day, were on hand to share their respective organisations’ approach, including an explanation of World Rugby’s ‘Balancing the Board’ document, a toolkit to help increase women’s representation on national rugby boards around the world. The challenge of imposter syndrome – and how organisations can help individuals combat it – was also on the agenda, with Dr. Elisavet Manoli, a lecturer in sports marketing at Loughborough University, sharing her own experience and how she tackled it.
The Now Generation
Three industry rising stars discussing their career stories and offered their thoughts on how the sports industry ought to become more diverse in the final conversation of the morning. Commercial Business Intelligence Manager Giulia Zecchini discussed the role models inspiring her at F1’s increasingly diverse London headquarters; Sport England’s Strategic Lead – Communications and External Affairs, Ochuko Adekoya, offered her thoughts on the current lack of diversity within sports communication; and Georgian Roberts shared her experience as one of the youngest board members in the UK. Aged just 22, she is part of the decision-making team at the Welsh Clay Target Shooting Federation.