New Zealand Rugby has been fined for not maintaining gender diversity standards set by Sport New Zealand for board members. Out of 65 major New Zealand sporting organisations, NZ Rugby was the only one not to reach the government-mandated 40% women on boards quota by December 2021. As a result, the governing body will lose $280,000 in Sport New Zealand funding.
However, there are chances that this sum will be returned if the quota is met. But there are also chances that financial penalties will increase to nearly $600,000 if NZ Rugby continues to be non-compliant next year, a Sport New Zealand statement said.
It’s worth mentioning that NZ Rugby currently has three women on its nine-strong board: deputy chair, former Black Fern and academic Dr Farah Palmer, former governor-general Dame Patsy Reddy and former Otago Rugby board chair Rowena Davenport. If NZ Rugby is to meet the standards set by Sport New Zealand, they need to appoint another woman on the panel.
“The NZ Rugby board acknowledges that we have not met Sport NZ’s requirement for 40% representation of women on the board by December 2021, and the subsequent financial penalty for non-compliance. While this funding is valuable to NZ Rugby, it will not impact our current work streams in the professional or community game,” NZ Rugby board chair Stewart Mitchell said.
Sports New Zealand invests $2.8 million into the sport every year for community rugby initiatives – including initiatives for women and rangatahi (young people) – and for high performance, targeting the Black Ferns and All Blacks Sevens. But Mitchell said that even though this fund won’t be coming in, things will continue to be the way they are.
“Rugby benefits when there is a range of demographics, skills, backgrounds and personal characteristics on boards. Moving forward it is critical that we maintain a long-term focus to ensure sustainable and meaningful change,” he said.