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3 women in cricket administration who have shattered the glass ceiling

  • How women are gradually stepping into cricket administration and excelling
ANALYST
Feature
Modified 14 Mar 2020, 16:23 IST
Ex-White Fern Debbie Hockley pictured with the ICC World Cup
Ex-White Fern Debbie Hockley pictured with the ICC World Cup

The internet is filled with articles about challenges and potholes, bias and barriers in the pathway of a woman's advancement to leadership positions. Concepts like 'sticky floors', 'career labyrinths', 'concrete walls', and 'glass ceilings' have received significant attention in the corporate world for the past few years. As a result of this positive awareness, the corporate sector, higher education, and administration have begun to welcome women in key leadership positions.

Abigail Johnson's successful tenure as the CEO of Fidelity Investments since 2016, is a good example of the corporation's increased trust in female leadership in the last few years. However, despite the positive progress of gender equality in leadership positions in all other fields, cricket administration has historically been a field that has stuck to male leaders, until recently.

Here the reader needs to be notified that positions exclusive to women's cricket administration are not considered.

Cricket as a sport will only become more inclusive and reflective of the society in general qualified women administrators are not restricted to only women's cricket. Women need to have the freedom to explore leadership opportunities at the apex of the cricket boards. Regrettably that has not been the case, but things are on the mend.

This article attempts to shed light on those female leaders who are the raising green shoots, in an otherwise male-dominated field of cricket governance and administration.


Debbie Hockley | President, New Zealand Cricket

Debby Hockley with Kate Middleton at a promotional event of ICC World Cup 2015
Debby Hockley with Kate Middleton at a promotional event of ICC World Cup 2015

Along with a few other players, like Belinda Clark, Charlotte Edwards, and Anjum Chopra, Debbie Hockley was the torchbearer of women's cricket, before the game gained exposure and media attention on the world stage. She was the first woman to reach the landmark of 4000 ODI runs and she did so at a jaw-dropping average of 42 from 118 matches.

Much like her cricketing career, Hockley turned out to be the flag-bearer of female cricket administrators as well. As of today, she is the only female to lead the cricket board of a full member nation of the International Cricket Council (ICC). What makes the feat more commendable is the fact that except the corporate glass ceiling, she also had to fight with cervical cancer (diagnosed in 2018) in her journey to becoming the supremo of New Zealand Cricket. Hockley's re-election as NZC president for a further 3-year tenure in 2019 (elected first in 2016), only reinstates the exemplary performance that she has exhibited in her leadership, despite all her professional and personal constraints.


Indra Nooyi | Independent Director, ICC

Ex CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi
Ex CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi
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Indra Nooyi is a very well known name in corporate internationally. She has been consistently ranked by Fortune Magazine among the world's most powerful women over the last few years. She was the CEO of Pepsico, and responsible for an impressive 22 brands generating more than $1 billion each in annual retail sales. Unlike Debbie Hockley, she comes from a non-cricketing background but has gone on to bag the role of the first independent female director of ICC. In response to her recruitment, ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar stated


"We are delighted to welcome Indra to the ICC. Adding another independent director - particularly a female - is such an important step forward in improving our governance."

Nooyi has not only demolished the 'concrete wall' in her career, but she has also managed to reach a level, where ICC deems itself fortunate to avail her services in an otherwise male-dominated cricket administration.


Clea Smith | General Manager, Member Program Australia

Clea Smith (L) during one of the Cricket Australia board meetings
Clea Smith (L) during one of the Cricket Australia board meetings

Clea Smith joined the Cricket Australia (CA) administration in 2013, after retiring from her 15 years long professional cricket career. In the next 7 years, she has made her way up the corporate ladder with meticulous effort and diligence. Currently, she is the General Manager of Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA), responsible for ex-player games and personal development programs.

One of the biggest achievements during her tenure was the launch of parental leave policy in Australian cricket. The policy entitled an Australian player to a 12-month long paid parental leave along with a guaranteed contract extension the following contract year, in line with their present contractual arrangements. After the launch of the policy, this is what Smith, the principal architect of the policy had to say about it:


“This policy is the combination of three years of collaboration within Australian Cricket, the ACA and the players, and we’re delighted with the outcome. This is a world-leading, player-centered policy providing balance in the lives of all players. The policy is designed to keep female players in the game for longer which will have a positive impact at all levels of the game.”

One cricketing legend, one corporate hotshot and one compassionate leader - that's how diverse female leadership can be. The most encouraging aspect is that the 3 female leaders mentioned above, are not exceptional cases in cricket administration anymore. Several women are making their presence felt in this field. Strategic management in cricket boards is improving day by day, as cricket is becoming more and more inclusive. A few other prominent female leaders in modern cricket governance include Rupa Gurunath - President of TNCA, Justine Whipper - National Manager of Player Development & Well-Being Australia, Delia Bushell - ECB Non-Executive Director, Brenda Trenowden - Independent Non-Executive Director ECB, Lucy Pearson - Non-Executive Director ECB and Zola Thamae - Director of Community Sport CSA.

Quite impressively, much like corporates and academics, global cricket administration is slowly embracing the motto of - All Genders Equal Opportunity. This is surely one of the best things that has ever happened to cricket. The intermingling of both genders at the helm is bringing about new perspectives to leadership in cricket, thus broadening the scope of innovation and resulting in the all-round development of this beautiful game.


Also see | Women’s T20 World Cup has given fresh impetus to a full-fledged women’s IPL 

Published 14 Mar 2020, 16:23 IST
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