ICSA releases new report to help improve attitudes and behaviour in sport

London, 16 May 2018 – ICSA: The Governance Institute has launched a new report looking at ‘Organisational culture in sport’, which finds that cultural issues are under-discussed at board level. It also highlights the fact that success in embedding culture and values cannot be achieved by boards alone.

Speaking at the launch of the report at the ICSA Sport Governance Workshop in London on 11 May, Louise Thomson, Head of Policy (Not for Profit) at ICSA commented:

“Sport plays an important role in society, not just in relation to the economy, but in terms of the health benefits and enjoyment that it brings to millions around the world. Unfortunately, some of these benefits have been overshadowed by a series of high-profile failures experienced by international sports federations, domestic national governing bodies and individual clubs in recent years. Greater attention needs to be paid to the relationship between good governance and organisational culture, as culture provides the context for and underpins all that an organisation does. Behavioural failures can occur when too much emphasis is placed on the mechanics of governance – policies and procedures – at the expense of dynamics, attitudes and behaviours. The board and executive need to work together to embed and monitor agreed values and standards or risk undermining, diluting or confusing the stated culture.”

The report assesses the pressures which sports bodies face with regard to positive behaviour of personnel; gives those in leadership roles the tools to begin to assess the culture within their organisation; and provides examples of how to embed a chosen culture.

Among the recommendations made in the report are:

  • Achieve board ‘buy-in’ to adopt a positive culture by properly evidencing the impact it could have
  • Link culture to sustainability for the organisation and the sport
  • Identify the risks associated with a poor culture and adverse behaviour
  • Embody and demonstrate the stated culture and communicate it to all stakeholders
  • Enforce the policies and processes which protect the organisation’s culture against transgressions
  • Offer training and development at all levels, from board level to volunteers
  • Provide an opportunity for board members to experience the organisation at all levels
  • Make discussions about the organisation’s culture a regular agenda item.

The report can be accessed at www.icsa.org.uk/knowledge/sports-hub

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Notes to Editors:


  1. ICSA: The Governance Institute is the professional body for governance. We have members in all sectors and are required by our Royal Charter to lead ‘effective governance and efficient administration of commerce, industry and public affairs’. With over 125 years’ experience, we work with regulators and policy makers to champion high standards of governance and provide qualifications, training and guidance.
    Website: www.icsa.org.uk

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