Governance Institute finds 96 per cent of sports board and committee members agree that good culture is critical for ethical behaviour

Yesterday’s release of an independent review into Cricket Australia’s organisational culture and governance frameworks by The Ethics Centre revealed a win-at-all-costs attitude that affects the culture from the top down.

Governance Institute recently surveyed people on sports governance issues. The well-timed results show that of those who have ever been on a sporting board or committee:

  • 97 per cent believe leadership from the board is very important to ensure that a good culture is in place in a sporting organisation
  • 96 per cent said that good culture is critical to ensure ethical behaviour in a sporting organisation.

'Our survey results along with the Cricket Australia review findings show that the organisational culture in sporting organisations is a critical board agenda item,' said Acting Chief Executive, Meegan George.

'As mentioned in our Managing Culture guide, culture is much more about people than it is about policies, procedures and rules. The board is ultimately responsible for the definition and oversight of culture — they must set the ‘tone at the top’ by ensuring an effective Ethical Framework is at the heart of everything they do,' said Meegan George.

'The Cricket Australia findings are quite clear. The board had all of the necessary policies and procedures in place. But they lost oversight of their cultural reality — less than half of their staff believed that the actual culture reflected the behaviours of their Ethical Framework,' continued Ms George.

As the report documents, there is an opinion that Cricket Australia’s culture is built on the approach of ‘winning at all costs’.

'It’s clear that a ‘win at all costs’ culture has driven unethical conduct. Conduct is the manifestation of culture. Cricket Australia’s board must consider what went wrong. They had a mature governance process but there wasn’t a capacity for ethical restraint amongst individuals and the organisation as a whole,' said Ms George.

'As with the banking royal commission, there is a link between remuneration and desired culture. When the two are not appropriately aligned, the risk of misconduct increases. That is why we support Recommendation 32, which links executive remuneration to performance measures relating to Cricket Australia’s culture,' continued Meegan George.

'We also welcome Recommendation 1 for Australian Cricket to establish an Ethics Commission to hold all participants accountable to their ethical foundations for the game. We believe Ethics Commission members need to be qualified in governance and have the appropriate skills to exercise their responsibilities effectively and challenge potential cultural and ethical issues,' concluded Meegan George.


Governance Institute launched Managing Culture — A good practice guide with the Institute for Internal Auditors – Australia (IIA-A) and Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand — and the learnings have never been so relevant for sporting and corporate Australia.

The Working In Sport Essentials (WISE) Program in partnership with etrainu provides fundamental governance knowledge for anyone involved in a sports organisation or team. The online course provides the confidence to carryout good governance practices within a sporting organisation.

For further information contact Rachel Waterhouse on 0402 336 352 or email

About Governance Institute of Australia

Governance Institute of Australia is the only independent professional association with a sole focus on whole-of-organisation governance — best practice culture and ethics from the boardroom to the staff room.

We are a leading professional membership association dedicated to the support and empowerment of those responsible for governance and risk management.

Our events, education programs and extensive resources, provide our 7,600+ members and subscribers with the tools and knowledge to drive strong, accountable performance in their role and enhance their career in the future.

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