Fiona Coghlan: "It's too simplistic an approach to just force quotas upon people"

The former Ireland captain shared her thoughts on yesterday's gender quota announcement

BY Simon Maguire 17:11 Tuesday 13 December 2016, 17:11 13 Dec 2016

Fiona Coghlan (Chairperson, Dublin City Sport & Wellbeing Partnership Advisory Board) Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Minister of State for Sport Patrick O'Donovan announced yesterday that new gender quotas, which would require 30% of all board members to be female, will have to implemented by 2019 or sporting organisations would face funding cuts.

Sporting bodies will face the cuts should they fail to meet the quota as outlined but the Minister for State believed there is ample time for them to implement these changes.

However not everyone is in agreement with the idea. Speaking to, former Irish rugby captain Fiona Coghlan said: "It is welcomed that there is dialogue around women on sports boards, however I don't think gender quotas are correct way to bring about this needed change.

"Personally I would want to be invited onto a board for my skills and experience and the fact that I could add value rather than ticking a box to ensure funding. 

"It would be interesting to find out if there was any discussion with national governing bodies (NGB) prior to yesterdays announcement.  A more collaborative approach around the issue would have a more favourable than a punitive approach," she added.

WRWC 2017 Tournament Ambassador Fiona Coghlan, incoming World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont, Ireland captain Niamh Briggs, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and IRFU President Martin O'Sullivan
Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Coglan, who is the ambassador for the 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup in Ireland, argued that while the subject requires further discussion, the method isn't correct.  

"It is too simplistic an approach to just force quotas upon people," she said, "In order to maximise the potential of these new board members the NGB's must see their value and what they can bring to the table. 

"It might be a case of identifying women now and assist them as they transition into leadership roles. Further questions need to be addressed - how the board is currently formed and are women putting themselves forward to sit on these boards. 

"We see a huge level of volunteerism with board members and how they have worked their way up through clubs. More and more women are now getting involved at club level and I have no doubt we will see more of them come through in years to come but that is a very slow process."

Arguing that diversity allows for better success in the long term and the need for more women at board level, she said: "Women should be on the boards of directors, end of. All studies have shown that boards with more diverse range of people and skills brings greater results. 

"The landscape of sport is changing.  More women are involved at every level and we need to see that continued growth.  The board making decisions should have women on it, not just for the benefit of women's sport but the benefit of all sport."

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