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Drivers to participation

Female soccer players hugging in victory

Through the Sport Australia and Nielsen research, nine key drivers to participation were identified. These operate across an organisation and touch on all elements of a participant’s experience. 

When these elements are implemented well, they drive participation among women and girls. 

Where challenges arise, barriers to participation are created. 

Each driver is important to the success and sustainability of female participation within your organisation though each organisation will be at different stages of implementation.

Governance
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The organisation's structure, constitution, membership, voting rights, compliance with applicable legislation, policies and the operation and composition of the board.

Importance

Diverse boards create better outcomes and more successful businesses. Appointing a board, or having a governance structure, where members have relevant experience leading or participating in female sport, shows the importance of female engagement at all levels of the organisation. 

Components
  • Independence
  • Policies and procedures
  • Sub-committees
  • Board meetings
  • Skills of board directors
Execution
  • Induct new board members to ensure they understand the female participation component of the business and its relationship to the overall participation and operating strategies
  • Assess the skills and experience of the board to ensure they are relevant to achieving the female participation goals of the sport
Outcomes
  • A progressive culture that prioritises women and girls
  • Appropriate resources to deliver a female participation strategy

Management
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The experience, expertise and performance of the management team.

Importance

As with the governance of an organisation, diversity of staff delivers better outcomes. 

Furthermore, within sporting organisations, women face many challenges not encountered by their male peers. Organisations need to create inclusive recruiting processes and develop an environment in which female staff feel supported.

Components
  • Mentoring and development programs
  • Induction, retention and management processes
  • Female participation planning and measurement
Execution
  • Appoint a diverse leadership team with relevant experience to drive female participation outcomes for the sport
  • Provide female employees with a custom development program including induction, mentoring and continuous professional development
  • Implement processes to develop, execute and measure performance against female participation plans
Outcomes
  • A diverse culture in which women and girls feel welcome
  • A clearly communicated vision and strategy for female participation

Alignment
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The whole-of-sport approach taken to the delivery of a female participation strategy.

Importance

All levels of the organisation need to understand the importance of, and accept responsibility for executing, the female participation strategy. Key stakeholders should be involved in development and goal setting and be updated regularly on progress. 

Alignment extends from the top of the organisation, at a board or national level, to the day-to-day running of the organisation with staff, volunteers and participants.

Components
  • Nationally aligned systems and processes
  • Implementing national databases
  • Undertaking whole-of-sport strategic planning processes
Execution
  • Work towards alignment on the importance and incorporation of a female participation strategy
  • Conduct planning to ensure common goals and designated roles and responsibilities in the execution of the strategy
Outcomes
  • Shared information across all levels of the organisation
  • Agreement on the best strategy to grow participation among women and girls

Product Design
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The development of a product with benefits and features to meet consumer needs and wants.

Importance A key challenge for women and girls participating in sport is the inability of a product to suit their needs. While this can apply to the game structure, it is also relevant to the time, location and delivery of the game. Including women and girls in the design and testing process ensures the final product is appropriate for the women and girls who will engage with it. 
Components
  • Co-designing and testing products with women and girls
  • Designing non-competitive product offerings
  • Offering products which cater for the specific needs of women and girls
Execution
  • Utilise evidence regarding sports participation among women and girls when designing products
  • Develop and test products with women and girls as the end user
  • Offer a suite of products to meet the needs of women and girls
Outcomes
  • Programs which happen at a time best suited for women and girls to participate
  • Programs which are accessible for women and girls in location, presentation and equipment
  • Programs which women and girls enjoy

Facilities and Access
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The provision of safe, appropriate, accessible and affordable sporting facilities and spaces for women and girls.

Importance Provision of and access to high quality female friendly sport facilities is critical to growing women’s and girls’ participation and improving high performance sport outcomes. Sport facility audits have demonstrated the lack of adequate facilities. Sports club cultural survey results have highlighted that quality sport environments go well beyond having female toilets and change rooms and include aspects like imagery, equity in content scheduling and environments where everyone feels safe, respected and like they belong.
Components
  • Facilities management plan and use policy
  • Innovative, researched and fit for purpose design
  • Facility guidelines and technical requirements
Execution
  • Consult with female stakeholders in the design, planning and management of sport facilities
  • Comply with the facility design guidelines of relevant sports and address design expectations of women and girls such as universal design principles
  • Maintain a facilities management plan that addresses equitable access and content scheduling maximising use for both traditional and emerging female sports
  • Embrace a family friendly culture that delivers a sense of belonging, connectivity and safety for women and girls
Outcomes
  • Welcoming, respectful and inclusive environments for women, girls and their families to participate
  • Increased usage of sport facilities and increased memberships among women and girls
  • High level of customer satisfaction for all women and girls regardless of life stage and engagement level

Commercial Model
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The development of sustainable female participation products and the commercialisation of related assets.

Importance

Implementing a commercial model by which female sports and programs are producing a commercial return ensures these programs are sustainable.

If your organisation is in the early stages of product development, profit may not yet be a priority, but understanding the value of these products to both the organisation and women and girls can eventually lead to a sustainable program. In the beginning, focus on understanding the opportunity and the potential return the program can deliver if executed well. 

Components
  • Sizing the potential market for new, female-specific products
  • Testing assumptions and analysing risks within product models
  • Conducting an audit of commercial assets across female sports
Execution
  • Collect and utilise an evidence base regarding female participation within sport
  • Apply evidence to establish sustainable female participation products through strong value propositions for women and girls and commercial partners
  • Pursue a commercial return from all parts of the business
Outcomes
  • Established value of programs and pathways for women and girls to participants, the organisation and potential brands
  • Resources to ensure female participation programs are sustainable

Marketing and Communication
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The messages and methods sports use to communicate internally and to women and girls.

Importance

In developing marketing collateral, the tone, content, and imagery should all communicate to women and girls that they are represented within the sport. They also want to be integrated – collateral developed for women and girls should not stand-alone but rather should be included in the overall marketing approach of the organisation. Content also needs to be promoted through the correct channels – understanding how women and girls access information is key to disseminating content efficiently. 

Components
  • Consistency of branding and commercial offerings between collateral for women and girls and general marketing collateral
  • Understanding channel frequency and preferences of women and girls
  • Ensure clear roles, responsibilities and protocols around communication within the sport, and to women and girls
Execution
  • Collect and utilise an evidence base regarding communication with women and girls
  • Develop messages and materials for women and girls which are consistent with the organisation's purpose, values and brand
  • Communicate messages and materials targeted to women and girls through relevant delivery channels
Outcomes
  • Increased awareness of the participation opportunities for women and girls
  • Demonstrated health benefits for women and girls who play sport
  • Improved self-esteem of women and girls who can see themselves as athletes

Delivery and Partnerships
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How products are delivered to women and girls including coaches, volunteers, clubs and alternative providers.

Importance

Delivery and partnerships encompasses two elements: who is delivering products to women and girls, and how they are delivering them. Similar to Governance and Management, organisations need to ensure they have adequate female staff, including coaches, referees and volunteers, to deliver programs. Additionally, all those involved with delivery need to understand the differences in delivering a product to women and girls including language and tone, motivations and feedback. 

Components
  • Volunteer strategies
  • Mentoring opportunities for coaches
  • Best-practice administration templates for clubs
  • Consideration of private providers and facility operators as delivery agents for the sport
Execution
  • Determine the appropriate partners to deliver the sport’s participation products to women and girls
  • Provide support and guidance to delivery partners, including training on products designed for women and girls
  • Measure the performance of delivery partners to ensure they are meeting the required standards
Outcomes
  • Deliverers and partners educated in how to coach, train, engage with women and girls so they stay in your sport
  • More enjoyable sport for women and girls who will feel catered for

Market Insights
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The collection of evidence on current and potential participants and the operating environment.

Importance In developing a female participation strategy, sporting organisations need to first understand the market for women’s and girl’s sport. This can range from basic demographics of your current participants including age and location, to more detailed aspects such as how women and girls perceive your sport and their satisfaction with their participation experience. Regular collection and analysis of this data ensures your organisation is on the right track.
Components
  • Collecting regular data for analysis
  • Understanding how women and girls engage with the sport
  • Understanding the main reasons for satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the female sport experience
  • Understanding the environment in which sport operates such as its level of importance in a participant’s life
Execution
  • Seek out and analyse existing, relevant, and publicly available research on female sport
  • Design and conduct research to address knowledge gaps regarding women and girls and the industry
  • Offer simple and convenient ways for women and girls to provide feedback
Outcomes
  • Information about women and girls that can be leveraged to grow the game
  • Data resources to help develop appropriate insights for your female participation strategy