For me at least, Thursday 24 June, 2010 will be one of those "where were you when..." moments.
While I did get up and watch the Socceroos' valiant effort as they attempted to claw back a spot in the World Cup knock out round, it was Julia Gillard's appointment as Prime Minister of Australia that marked the day as truly significant.
Along with my wife, I watched the (extended) 6pm news coverage and Ms Gillard's swearing in by the Governor-General Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, all the time thinking how this moment had to be a change point for Australia.
If we can have a woman as Prime Minister, others as State Premier, and a growing number as Chief Executive of Australia's top companies, can there be any better time than now to push for gender equity in leadership positions in Australian sport?
With recent data showing women hold only 13% of Executive Officer positions in the top 40 funded National Sporting Organisations in Australia while the number of women on national sporting organisations boards averages just one woman to seven men, the reasons for this push are clearly evident.
Sportspeople Recruitment maintains a significant "knowledge bank" not only on our vital statistics, but also on other organisations operating in the sport, fitness and aquatic sector. For example we record appointments by gender for those jobs recruited directly by Sportspeople Recruitment as well as the other specialist sports recruitment agency operating in Australia.
Using the same period of time, the other agency filled 110 roles while Sportspeople Recruitment filled 312 roles, bringing the total number of jobs to 422. Looking at the gender of the successful, appointed candidate of the 312 roles recruited by Sportspeople Recruitment 47.8% were filled by women and 52.2% by men. For the 110 roles filled by the other agency, 46.4% were filled by women and 53.6% by men. Collectively over the 422 roles, 47.1% were filled by women and 52.9% by men.
If we accept that around half the sport sector labour force are women it would be plausible to think there would be a more even spread of women and men at all levels of management, including Chief Executive Officer. As this is clearly not the case, we need to ask why. Is it because women don't apply for Chief Executive Officer roles or are women subject to active discrimination in the job application process?
We also know from our research, such as the Sportspeople Workplace Survey, that women are more likely to have both an undergraduate and post-graduate qualification and work the same hours as men, yet they generally earn less than men doing the equivalent job. The remuneration gap is more evident in senior roles and less pronounced in entry to middle management roles below $60,000 per annum.
The principal of merit underpins the Sportspeople Recruitment candidate management system. This means the candidates selected by Sportspeople Recruitment for consideration by our client are the most capable of doing the job from those applying.
If you are an employer going through a recruitment cycle, now or in the future, your aim is to find the absolute best candidate. You wouldn't select one candidate over the other based on the colour of their eyes, or the colour of their skin, so why does gender even come into the discussion?
Selection based on gender is fundamentally wrong, counter-productive, plain stupid and well; let's face it, just so last century.
RM - Sportspeople Recruitment
First Published 2010.