Your Quarterly E-Zine
Edition 11 • December 2019

This website contains the latest edition of Forsyth Barr Focus, a quarterly on-line magazine written by senior members of Forsyth Barr's investment team.

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Rachel Froggatt was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Women in Sport Aotearoa (WISPA) in September 2018. She is also Secretary General of the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport Secretariat and Conference 2018 - 2022.

Women in Sport Aotearoa’s vision is that “women and girls are valued, visible and influential in sport and recreation.” What are some of the key indicators that this Vision is being successfully realised?

Women in Sport Aotearoa, Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa, (WISPA) exists to transform society through leadership, advocacy and research, ensuring that all women and girls gain equity of opportunity to participate, compete and build careers in play, active recreation and sport.

Here are some of the current numbers in New Zealand:

Leadership Positions
27% women in Governance, 40% in Senior Leadership/Management, 30% in High Performance Coaching and 79% in Administration or Support Services.
Source: Sport NZ Paid Workforce Survey 2017; figures drop if Netball removed.

Less than 10% women’s sport media coverage in NZ annually, 28% in Olympic/Paralympic year and 20% more likely to be spoken for by a coach.
Source: NZOC Gender Balance and Portrayal Research 2015-2016.

A number of systemic barriers mean females participate 12% less during any given week.
Source: Sport NZ Active NZ Survey 2017.

WISPA has currently identified six core areas that require positive change amongst target organisations. These relate to leadership representation, gender equity policies, gender funding distribution, equitable facilities, equitable media coverage and consideration to other aspects of female diversity. It is WISPA’s belief that positively targeting systemic change will drive positive social change. Success would be more women and girls participating, competing and building careers in play, active recreation and sport.

Previously, you were Commercial & Marketing Director for Paralympics New Zealand. Compared to the rest of the world, how well does New Zealand do when it comes to providing sporting opportunities for people with disabilities?

Uniquely, the New Zealand disabled community is served by several complementary organisations. At the national level, Paralympics New Zealand and Special Olympics New Zealand support our elite athletes to pinnacle events. Also nationally, the Halberg Foundation works with young disabled people under 20 and regionally, the local ParaFeds offer support to disabled people of all ages. On the whole, New Zealand is ahead of the world, but more work and investment is needed.

The work that Paralympics New Zealand does to raise awareness and understanding of disability is critical, because through techniques like free-to-air broadcast of the Paralympic Games, social attitudes toward disability improve and more funding and opportunities grow for the community.

It’s been 25 years since the International Working Group (IWG) on Women and Sport was established. It’s now the world’s largest network dedicated to empowering women and girls and advancing sport. What have been IWG’s main achievements?

There are four significant programmes that I believe provide the foundation of the IWG’s success: The first was the establishment of the IWG World Conference in 1994. Held every four years, with the next one in Auckland in May 2022, the conference is now the biggest independent event dedicated to gender equity in sport and physical activity globally. It typically attracts around 1200 of the world’s most influential leaders from across government, sport, academia and media, gathering to discuss and agree the future.

Secondly, at this same conference the Brighton Declaration on Women & Sport was established. Fast forward 25 years and it is now the oldest and largest treaty dedicated to gender equity in sport and physical activity, signed by over 550+ global entities such as the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee.

The third was the establishment of the IWG Progress Report, which two decades ago was the only consistent measurement tool checking the development of women’s sport globally.

Finally, the IWG has an extensive network of strategic partnerships that enable it to influence the gender equity agenda from the inside-out. Considerable consulting work takes place annually with entities like the UN, UNESCO and World Health Organisation.

In 2022, The IWG Conference is being held in New Zealand. What are some of the other challenges of your role as Secretary General of the IWG on Women and Sport Secretariat?

By far the biggest challenge is assisting the sport sector develop to the level where we can confidently stand on that global stage in less than three years’ time, and claim that we are world-class.

There is a lot of very positive work going on across the New Zealand sport and active recreation sector, notably due to the launch of the Government ‘Women & Girls in Sport & Active Recreation’ strategy and Sport New Zealand’s 24 commitments last October and a resulting $10m investment over three years. Some of the “big-hitting” elements include bringing gender quotas and diversity onto sports boards.

Other initiatives include developing knowledge and capability of sector leaders. WISPA was pleased to be appointed delivery agent for the Sport NZ Women + Girls Summit over the next three years, in partnership with the Shift Foundation. The first event will take place at Te Papa on Monday 7 October and is on track to break all expectations around attendee numbers.

From a personal point of view, my own challenge right now is around raising funds. To stage the IWG World Conference, I will need to raise around $1 million in non-government income from donations, grants and commercial partners over the next 12 months. I am very excited to be going to market at the moment with what I think is a very unique offering for corporates in New Zealand, interested in aligning with a positive social change movement that will leave an outstanding generational legacy.

Do you have an affinity for any particular sport, or do you support all sports?

As most young Kiwi girls did, I played Netball from a young age and actually only gave up in my mid-20s, after injury got the best of me! Now I’m into non-impact sports, like cycling and hiking.

From a career perspective, I have had an amazing opportunity to be involved in lots of different sports, from seven seasons in Formula One with three different teams (Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes) through to working the UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul in 2005.

But I have to say that the sport that really grabs my emotion is Para sport. I was lucky enough to be running a small programme at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and I had honestly never seen anything like it. The power, athleticism and spirit of the athletes is incredible to witness.

It was this experience that took my career in a completely different direction, as I made my choice to move away from big brand elite male sport into the sport inclusivity and development space. I was thrilled to secure the role of Commercial & Marketing Director at Paralympics New Zealand, where I was determined to help our kiwi Paralympians take their rightful place in our social consciousness via activation of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. From there it was a natural progression to gender!

2021 will be the first time that New Zealand has hosted The Women’s Rugby World Cup. How important are events such as this to the achievement of WISPA’s Vision?

The staging of both the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in early 2021 and the Women’s Rugby World Cup in mid-2021 in New Zealand is a phenomenal opportunity to permanently shape public opinion around women’s sport. There are so many strangely pervasive myths around women’s sport, and one of them is it's not athletic enough to be entertaining. Both of these myths are very quickly put to bed once people see it on TV or in person. You only have to refer to the 1.2 million Kiwis that watched our Silver Ferns become World Champions recently, or the 1 billion that tuned into the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The Sport NZ Women & Girls Sports Summit is being held in Wellington in October to discuss the challenges and opportunities for women and girls in play, active recreation and sport. What are the main obstacles for girls and women in fully participating in sport today?

WISPA, along with our friends at the Shift Foundation, were thrilled to be appointed delivery agents for the Sport NZ Women + Girls Summit 2019 – 2021. There are many obstacles, but recently we have broadly been grouping them into three areas: systemic barriers (which limits opportunities to participate); unconscious bias (which hinders progress for females); and societal challenges (attitudes and beliefs impacting female involvement).

The 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK will be the first major multi-sports event to have more women’s than men’s medal events. Does this reflect an overall trend of increasing female participation in sport?

The considered focus on women and Para athletes in the Commonwealth Games is both a sign of the times and a world that is, with a few notable exceptions, moving to become more inclusive. The Commonwealth Games is supposed to represent all the peoples of the Commonwealth, so an elevated focus on gender is warranted and the demand is certainly there from elite athletes and countries globally. It is also a canny business move by an event now working in a very competitive environment, as it creates a differentiating point on a commercial level, in a way that other multi-sport events cannot.

We’re seeing more cross-over officiating between men’s and women’s sports like football, netball and rugby. In what other ways can sports embrace diversity on and off-field?

Interestingly, many people would assume that men coach, umpire and manage men’s teams and women coach, umpire and manage women’s teams. Cross-over is one thing, but actually enabling women to officiate freely in any capacity would be a major step forward. In New Zealand for example, only 30% of coaching roles are held by women and in the high performance environment, that drops to less than 10%.

Unconscious bias in recruitment and male-dominated environments are major barriers to female involvement, so in many cases we actually find men coaching, umpiring and managing women’s teams. When a woman makes the cross-over into men’s sport, it's often reported in the media as a bit of an oddity. I would love to get to a place where a coach is just a coach, not a “female coach”, as is often reported.

As a communications professional, you’ve had extensive experience in working with media. What more can be done to promote coverage of girl’s and women’s sport through the mass media?

My personal belief is that it is a two-way street. There are a number of systemic barriers in place within media organisations, such as click rates driving topics, male decision-makers, and lack of resource. There needs to be, as is beginning to happen, a conscious policy to cover women’s sport and a realisation that audiences will not just appear overnight, but need time and investment to grow. On the other side of the fence, New Zealand sporting organisations must step up their game around the way they present and communicate around women’s sport. The content must be equal to – or some may argue better – than men’s sport to grab attention of readers and help grow audiences. Ultimately, I believe responsibility lies with both, and a partnership must be built between sport and media.

Rachel Froggatt
CEO, Women in Sport Aotearoa

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