In 2014, the Richmond Football Club, in partnership with the Australian Sports Commission and the AFL, established a three-year longitudinal study into gender equity. The research, and subsequent implementation plan, was titled Gender Equity: What will it take to be the Best?

Bluestone Edge was commissioned to undertake the research which was in response to the need for the Club to more effectively engage with female stakeholders, and ultimately improve business performance. The learnings could be then be applied across the industry.

Richmond CEO Brendon Gale said it was important key findings and progress against identified actions were shared.

“Our leadership on the issue of gender equality has clearly demonstrated the club’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. As our project report identifies, we still have work to do, but I am proud of the progress we have made,” Gale said.

“We remain committed to driving a cultural shift that will enable more effective engagement with our female stakeholders internally and externally to address the very real issue of gender inequality.”

Australian Sports Commission CEO Kate Palmer said the report would drive disruption which was critical to creating change.

"I congratulate the Richmond Football Club for undertaking this research into gender equity and taking action to disrupt the status quo,” Palmer said.

“The work the club has undertaken will not only benefit the club and Australian Rules Football, it will also have a broader impact on the sport sector in promoting cultures that allow both women and men to thrive.”

Former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Liz Broderick concurred. 

“I commend Richmond, the ASC and the AFL for their showed leadership in establishing this research project,” she said.

“The shared learnings will be invaluable across the elite sporting landscape, driving cultural change from the boardroom down and creating an environment that supports and respects the important role gender equality plays in the workplace," Broderick said.

There were six key learnings identified out of the research were:

Creating the opportunity to discuss issues of diversity and difference builds connection and trust

- Taking the opportunity to make bold, disruptive changes to unlock resistance and underlying issues when changing the status quo
- What we measure we remediate as this creates focus and allows the barriers to surface so we can address
- Role models of both genders are essential to enabling the cultural shift needed
- Consistent and committed public leadership is essential to create the new norm
- Be open to understanding unconscious bias that each of us hold and build awareness of how these hidden ways of seeing the world can limit us

From these learnings, the implementation of eight practical responses, was recommended. These were:

1. Richmond Football Club to establish the Male Champions of Change - Sport
2. Develop talent pools and hot jobs to provide access and development
3. Set targets in key business areas
4. Building the capability of the organisation
5. Build and manage a communications plan on the RFC gender equity project, including inclusive brand imagery and collateral
6. Lobby the AFL to get RFC better engaged with AFL female participation pathways
7. Develop and implement parental leave and flexible work policies
8. Measure the impact culture and engagement