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Volume 10 No. 25

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The Australian Football League is facing "mounting criticism" over a decision to force the resignation of two execs over workplace affairs, with its "hard-line approach going far ­beyond what is considered best practice across the corporate and government sectors," according to Urban & Ferguson of THE AUSTRALIAN. The AFL was accused of "overreacting" in calling for the resignations of AFL Game Development Manager Simon Lethlean and Commercial GM Richard Simkiss, and of "acting primarily to protect its own reputation from accusations it runs a blokey workplace culture." Human resources experts and workplace lawyers described the situation as "highly unusual," given both relationships were consensual and neither man, ­although married, was the subject of any official complaint. Human resources experts were "unaware of any public companies in Australia that had banned workplace relationships." The Victorian and federal public sectors have codes of conduct around the prevention of discrimination, harassment and bullying, but they "do not preclude managers from forming sexual relationships with staff." Int'l law firm Herbert Smith Freehills partner Anthony Wood, a specialist in workplace law, said that the execs "could have potentially had grounds for legal action if the AFL's actions had been prompted by the fact they were married." High-profile feminist Catharine Lumby, an adviser to the National Rugby League on gender issues, launched a "blistering attack on the AFL." Lumby said that employers had "no business getting ­involved in the private lives of employees." Lumby: "For goodness sake, that's no one's business -- it's a matter between the man and the woman" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/18).

GALE NOT INTERESTED: In Melbourne, Warner & Robinson reported AFL side Richmond CEO Brendon Gale "ruled himself out as a candidate for the vacant AFL football operations position." Gale, 48, had been "touted as an ideal replacement" for Lethlean. Gale said, "It's a significant position and there will be no shortage of quality candidates, but I won't be putting my hand up." Experienced club football operations execs Steve Hocking (Geelong), Ameet Baines (St. Kilda), David Noble (Brisbane), Tom Harley (Sydney) and Chris Bond (Fremantle) "head a field" of potential candidates (HERALD SUN, 7/17).

The "clock is still ticking in Australian cricket’s pay stoush, with the sport risking further damage if peace is not brokered this week," according to the AAP. Monday "brought no progress in protracted pay talks." The next round of meetings between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association is expected on Tuesday. Australia faces India in its women’s World Cup semifinal on Thursday, with the tournament decider at Lord’s on Sunday. There is "every chance Australia will lift the trophy." There is "also every chance a ticker-tape parade upon returning home would be a celebration for unemployed players." Louise Evans of Women Sport Australia described it as a "laughable" scenario. She said, "Cricket Australia has done a fantastic job in being a frontrunner in paying elite female cricketers a living wage. But if the team comes home, they’re unemployed ... then they’re going to undo all that fantastic work." It is understood Commonwealth Bank, "having rejigged its agreement with CA last year to focus on women's sport and diversity programs, is far from impressed with proceedings" (AAP, 7/18).

The history of women in Formula 1 "is a short one," according to Kate Walker of the N.Y. TIMES. For decades, it has been a "man’s sport." But out of the cockpit, "things are beginning to change." Monisha Kaltenborn became the sport’s first female team principal when she ran the Sauber team. Although she stepped down last month, behind her is a "rising generation of female talent." Claire Williams is the deputy team principal of the Williams team, Ruth Buscombe is a senior strategy engineer for the Sauber team, Bernadette Collins fills a similar role at Sahara Force India and Marga Torres Diez is a trackside power unit engineer, working on the championship-winning engines produced by Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains. In the team factories, "growing numbers of women occupy roles in aerodynamics, composites and vehicle dynamics." Female drivers, however, "are still rare." Former World Rally Championship driver and Int'l Automobile Federations Women in Motorsport Commission President Michèle Mouton said, "The base number of women is still so low. We need to promote more in all areas. Then we'll have more women involved in all areas of motorsport, including competition." Danica Patrick of IndyCar racing and NASCAR has "shown how marketable a woman in the cockpit can be." Patrick’s reputation "may exceed her racing results," but her presence in the sport has "increased global awareness" of NASCAR. F1 currently "lacks such role models in the cockpit," but "has its eyes on" Colombia’s Tatiana Calderón, 24, who is racing in GP3 and is a development driver for the Sauber F1 team, and Marta Garcia, 16, now in her first season of single-seat racing with MP Motorsport in the Spanish Formula 4 national championship. F1 has its own int'l STEM program, F1 in Schools, which is "actively attracting girls into exploring science and technology careers using the excitement and glamour" of F1. Williams F1 Team Principal Claire Williams said, "We have to go out and make sure that we're actively promoting Formula 1 as a career destination for students more, that being primary, secondary or tertiary educations." Behind the scenes, "women have long had a role" in F1. Former F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone had an inner circle of "mostly female lawyers in charge of managing the hosting, broadcasting and promotion of each race" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/15).