Pippa Britton is a former Paralympian who has achieved great success with 24 medals from 24 Internationals and has attained several World Records. Pippa moved into the business of sport as a member of the Para Archery Committee, Vice Chair of UK Anti-Doping, and Vice Chair of Sport Wales.
Pippa’s mission now is to address the inequalities in the sporting world and create a healthy, active Wales.
Image Source:Disability Sport Wales
I am delighted to have been able to speak with Pippa about her understanding of the gender disparity within the sports industry. Pippa shares her insight, personal experiences and opinion on what needs to be done to push for greater equality in the business of sports.
What inspired you to enter the sports industry?
My original inspiration started as a 7-year-old watching the Olympics! I saw people winning gold medals and just wanted to be one of them.
"I was never good enough to have such big dreams, but I think it always stayed within me and as an adult I searched around for a sport that I could do and came up with archery."
I worked hard to be the best I could be and had a hugely successful career winning 24 international medals, 6 of them from World Championships. Moving from sports person to sports industry seemed the obvious move.
How have you seen the landscape for professional sportswomen change over the years?
There are big changes happening, but we haven't got there yet. I see parallels with disability sport where not so long ago there seemed to be an attitude of thinking how wonderful it was that women or disabled people were having the chance to 'have a go'.
Things are changing rapidly with greater exposure and a realisation in some of the bigger, more traditionally male sports, that women are actually fantastic.
For example, women's rugby does not contain the same big bruising tackles in the men's game, but that makes it faster with more passing and exciting skills on the pitch. In not comparing it to the men's game, but celebrating it for what it is, we are really seeing how great it is.
"We need more women at every level now, from pitch to boardroom, if we really want to celebrate women in sport."
What motivated you to push your career in to the business of sport?
I really care about people and how they are treated, which is why I had been an athlete rep. I was really surprised in archery that we had one event that was a male only event and wanted to get this changed.
"If you want things to change you have to get involved."
So I stood to get elected onto a committee at World Archery to make this happen and to cut a long story short, I was able to influence the introduction of the female event and it was held in the Rio Paralympics for the first time.
On retiring from competing, I wanted to make a difference in all sorts of areas in sport, especially where it means I can help systems improve or make a difference to people's lives.
What advice can you give women thinking of entering the business of sport?
The business of sport is a massive area and so I would suggest first deciding which direction you really want to go.
If you want to be a CEO of a sport then you need to understand what the role entails and set out to get the skills to be good enough to do it.
"I did a lot of volunteering positions on boards and was honest about where my strengths and weaknesses were."
I sought to build on the one and improve the other and looked for training where I could.
There are organisations like the Sports and Recreation Alliance that run courses and I signed up for whatever I thought would help. I also tried to find mentoring wherever I could.
In short, plan where you want to go, how you are going to get there and who can help you.
What do you think needs to be done to push for gender equality in the business of sports?
I'm not a great believer in hard targets as I fear tokenism, but we do need to make sure that voices are heard.
"I think having the conversation openly is a key thing and getting people to see that women have great business skills that can be transferred into sport."
A female accountant in a sport will do just as great a job regardless of how male dominated a sport is.
We can certainly push for skills based boards and recruitment and more independent people in the boardroom, as traditionally male sports often have traditionally male pathways into positions of power.
Making sure the membership understands the values of diversity and asking their opinions on what they would like to see in the future often throws up a genuine desire to see more women in sport.
Lastly, advertising widely - not just in publications that cater for a certain demographic - after all, we need to understand that if we continue do things the same way we won't see any change.
This article is part of our Eye on The Ball Blog Series. If you wish to share your thoughts on gender diversity and greater inclusion, please get in touch with Jordan at Jordan@maddoxevents.com.
The Women in Sport Summit launches 19th June 2019 at Twickenham Stadium. Click here to register.