Written by: Jasmine Richwol, Vicsport
Little Athletics Victoria was founded in 1964 in Geelong and was one of the first sporting organisations to cater solely for children. Today, LAVic run programs for U6 – U16 age groups with over 17,000 athletes competing across 100 Centres in Victoria.
Current CEO, Anthony McIntosh joined the organisation in December 2016 and at the LAVic board meeting in Dec 2015, it became apparent that there was an appetite for change within the governance practices of the organisation. Historically, LAVic sought board directors from within the sport and this saw the recruitment of directors were predominately male. This, along with strengthened governance practices, was something the organisation was determined to address and change.
With knowledge that the State Government of Victoria was looking at introducing mandatory board quotas by 1 July 2019, LAVic decided to be proactive and start addressing board recruitment in order to develop strong practice and meet the quotas. The organisation knew that it would take at least two Annual General Meeting’s (AGMs) to have the members change the constitution to allow for the creation of two nominator director roles given the first AGM failed to accept the constitutional change. The board at the time also understood that meeting the quotas would require governance and cultural changes, which they were happy to undertake.
Before the 2017 AGM, the Board of LAVic consisted of seven directors, one of which was female. Each director had a responsibility and an operational portfolio (ie membership, human resources, education etc). After the AGM, the board decided to expand to nine positions with the introduction of two independent director roles allowing for a skills/experience/diversity-based search. It was clear that changes to the board would have needed to be approved by the membership as it would affect the constitution. Portfolio roles were eliminated requiring the directors to oversee the organisation as a whole rather than in small areas. This changed proved to be positive enabling the directors to discuss strategy across the entire organisation and assisted in raising the types of conversations to “where do we want to be in 5 – 10 years?”.
In order to fill the two newly created appointed positions, the board undertook a skills audit that was completed by Vicsport over a six week period which enabled the board to identify that skills were needed in two key areas; human resources and marketing.
The board utilised a range of channels (i.e. Seek and internal networks) to advertise the vacant positions, but made a conscious effort to engage female oriented organisations which had banks for women seeking director positions (such as Women on Boards) to draw in the right candidates. Job descriptions and advertisements were gender neutral, however utilising female oriented networks resulted in a higher amount of female applicants. The Board recruitment advertising and screening was managed in-house by LAVic.
Of the 20 applicants, 14 were females and the calibre of talent was extremely high. Two female independent Directors were appointed in February 2018. Both women were highly skilled and met the requirements of the board. Today, the LAVic Board currently has 3 female out of 9 directors and is well positioned to meet the incoming quotas at the 2018 AGM in August.
Opportunity of Board Quotas
Change in number of directors
The journey to meet the quotas - 1 July 2019
The process to meet the quotas for LAVic is ongoing and continues to focus on creating a gender equal organisation. The following key learnings to date were noted by LAVic:
Key Take-away points
Advice for other sports
Vicsport have developed a range of resources, specifically designed to assist sporting organisations meet the upcoming quota.