WEDNESDAY 10 OCT 2018 2:35 PM


In light of Serena Williams’ experiences at the US and French Opens, sport has become the latest industry to garner wide discussion on gender inequalities, making this the perfect time for the Women’s Sport Trust to launch its Official Supporters’ Club with its ‘First XV’. The First XV will be made up of businesses committed to making women’s sport more “visible, viable and unstoppable.”

Signing up to be a First XV member signifies a public and private commitment to gender parity for the participating members. By affirming women in sport, businesses will be adding credence to their stated gender and inclusivity convictions for female professionals, both to retain existing employees and acquire top prospective talents.

Being a visible ally of women is important, as the Young Women’s Trust put out a report this year stating that one in five women still illegally receive less pay for the same work as their male colleagues and according to the Pew Research Center 40% of women face discrimination at work. The #MeToo and Times Up movements have made workplace inequalities more visible and efforts to counter endemic sexism more amplifiable. An initiative like the First XV whose members commit to promoting women’s sport and female leadership across its networks will by proxy be amplified by the other First XV members.

Members will also be aligning themselves with an industry already on the rise. On average, attendance to women’s sport has been increasing by 33% per year since 2013 – a growing and captive audience for the First XV. With women’s sport becoming more popular in tandem with its systemic inequalities, communicating progressive gender values becomes ever more timely. If women’s sport continues performing on-trend, leadership from the old guard unmoved by changing social values and the new economic power of women’s sport may find themselves kicked off the field.

Furthermore, in gaining access to premiere female athletes and sport stakeholders, First XV employees of all genders will be exposed to more examples of hyper-capable women. By recognising top talents in the world of sport, members of the Official Supporters’ Club will be communicating the capability of women in all arenas. Jo Bostock, the Joint-CEO of the WST says of its new partners, “These pioneering brands will be instrumental in changing the leadership and funding landscape for women’s sport. We are incredibly excited about partnering with like-minded organisations who share our passion to make change happen.”

Initiatives that support women in male-dominated industries are on the rise. In the tech sector, Cisco recently committed to sponsoring CRN’s Women in Channel awards for the next three years. Leading construction firm Balfour Beatty has teamed up with Constructing Excellence, its industry’s best-practices organisation, to promote women in construction to executive branches and boards. This increase in corporate promotion of gender equality and inclusivity shows no signs of subsiding.

The WST’s First XV will be announced later this month.

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