The Women in Cricket Employee Network (WCEN) is one of five employee networks within cricket alongside Race, Social Mobility, Disability and LGBTQ+. Launched on International Women’s Day (IWD) in March this year, the WCEN aims to bring women and allies from across the game together to positively impact the game for women & girls, helping to remove gender inequality.
To get involved and hear more from the Women in Cricket Network, you can join the mailing list by emailing WomeninCricket@ecb.co.uk
Having spent all my working life in cricket, I have a strong connection and love for the game. Time spent at Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) and now the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), I’ve learnt about the opportunities but also the challenges for minority groups.
When I was appointed as Co-Chair of the Women in Cricket Employee Network (WCEN) this time last year, I was determined that this would be a group that would make huge strides in uniting women and allies from across cricket together, to start a dialogue about the issues faced by women and to educate those who work in cricket that with diversity comes strength. Although there is still room for improvement, looking back at the last 12 months I feel proud of what our ten-person strong committee has achieved.
From vision to reality
From providing a platform through focus groups to influencing policy through network feedback on the ICEC report, the journey has been challenging but incredibly rewarding. Initiatives such as the All-Female ground staff match at Edgbaston has been instrumental in promoting women’s inclusion and visibility in the game.
International Women’s Day (IWD) ignites the conversation
The launch of the WCEN on IWD set the stage for impactful conversations on equity in cricket. With the support of the network, 22 counties across the UK hosted inspiring events, emphasising the theme of ‘Embracing Equity’. We organised four large-scale panel events, including one with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, which took place at Lord’s, Edgbaston, Old Trafford and Headingley. Seeing Tanni speak so passionately about equity for women was a real highlight.
Breaking Ground: Ashes Fever swept the nation
The network had an action-packed summer as Ashes fever hit. We supported Edgbaston in assembling an all-female sports turf team when England Women took on Australia in the first of three IT20s in July. This groundbreaking move aimed to challenge gender norms in the sports turf industry, where 98% are men. To see Meg Lay, WCEN committee member and Sports Turf Operative at Gloucestershire CCC’s Seat Unique Stadium, and her efforts in co-ordinating that day recognised at the 2023 Grounds Manager of the Year Awards symbolises the change we want to see and the positive shift for women in cricket. Go Meg!
The network also worked with LV=Insurance to host an empowering breakfast during the Trent Bridge Women’s Ashes Test Match, which included a star-studded panel. Hosted by ex-England player and commentator Isa Guha, it featured England great, Katherine Sciver-Brunt, ECB’s Director of Women’s Professional Game, Beth Barrett-Wild and LV= General Insurance Sales & Marketing Director, Jonathan Mansley. It was fantastic that we could work in partnership with one of our major sponsors to support such an event, especially at Trent Bridge where I have worked for several years as an ECB Venue Manager.
Influencing policy and a future focus
In September we joined forces with a wide range of cricket organisations, equality experts, charities and individuals, to support ECB on how best to implement the recommendations from the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC). I want our organisation to be a best-in-class on family leave provisions and we are actively engaging with a number of family leave focus groups across the network, listening, learning and sharing best practices. I am very keen we do more to speak directly to the network and we are looking to do more focus groups on other projects, such as imposter syndrome, in 2024.
Celebrating Women in Cricket
As a network it is important that we don’t just advocate for change, we want to recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in cricket. So many amazing things, big or small, have happened in 2023 and that’s why we launched our Nominate a Heroine in Cricket initiative. Thank you to all those who nominated and inspiring stories will be replayed to the network, acknowledging the diverse contributions of women in cricket soon.
There is still much to do, but I am confident that 2023 has created a solid foundation for the WCEN to have even more of an impact next year and we are committed to playing our part in ensuring that cricket becomes the most inclusive sport.
To get involved and hear more from the Women in Cricket Network, you can join our mailing list by emailing WomeninCricket@ecb.co.uk