From the pitch to the boardroom; how Christina put women’s cricket on the agenda
Christina joined TEC to get out of her own environment and gain a fresh perspective. TEC group meetings have helped Christina the most when it comes to topics that aren’t related to core business functions including corporate program works and handling staff experiences. Christina has been particularly interested in listening to TEC members who have a sales force, and how to align that within a growth strategy.
Christina Matthews, CEO of Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA), has dedicated her life to the game she loves. Having played cricket throughout her entire life, including 11 years representing Australia from 1984-1995, Christina is the country’s most capped female test player and is one of only two women in the world to hold the position of CEO of a first-class cricket association.
From a sporting team leader to a business director, the former cricketer has always seen similarities between the sporting world and the corporate sector.
Christina’s mission is to get the business of cricket right by ensuring everyone has equal opportunities to enjoy the game, regardless of gender. Her thinking is simple; if a commercial business only catered for 50% of the population, it would be out of business very quickly.
Having never felt fully embraced by the sport as a female, she has an unrelenting drive for gender equality and challenges stereotypes to overcome barriers to female participation in sport and leadership.
Since her appointment as CEO in 2011, Christina has ensured the WACA has equal gender representation in leadership positions, as well as calling for male-centric cricketing terms such as ‘batsman’ and ‘12th man’ to be dropped.
TEC supports members to make transformative decisions
‘In business and in sport, it comes down to the idea that you can’t be what you can’t see. Organisations and associations must actively ensure they are culturally diverse and promote gender equality if people are going to see that there is a place for them.’
Beyond the pitch, Christina is passionate about the positive impact diversity can play in the business world. It is a perspective both gained and shared throughout her executive network as a member of TEC.
The WACA recently received federal government funding of $75 million to redevelop the iconic cricket ground, a first-of-its-kind project for Christina and her team. The redevelopment will lead to a better future for the people who work in the industry and love and enjoy the game.
According to the CEO, gaining diverse insights and advice from her executive network of TEC members will prove instrumental as she steers the development into a new era for cricket fans in WA.
TEC’s peer-to-peer groups offer leaders support and perspective
‘My TEC group is a team, and what I love about being in a team is that everybody has a role that’s intrinsic to ensuring success. I like to think that as part of a CEO network, my experience and contributions are also, in some form or another, ensuring the success of my fellow executives, particularly regarding equality in the workplace.’
In the face of a largely male-dominated cricketing world both on and off the field, Christina’s strategic focus on creating a genuinely gender-equal sport has proved overwhelmingly successful in supporting the future of cricket, both culturally and financially.
She has been praised for her role in uniting and developing cricket in Western Australia, and was last year named Western Australian of the year in 2019 for her achievements in the Western Australian Cricket Community.
One of Christina’s key milestones in her eight-year tenure has been increasing female cricket participation numbers by 550% across the state. She has also guided enormous participation growth in people with a disability, Indigenous communities and challenging the status quo of who the game is for.
TEC holds leaders accountable for creating goals and a path to achieve them
‘When you consider that up until four years ago there was no effort put into marketing, promoting or supporting women’s sport, it’s not surprising there’s an assumption that women don’t deserve to be paid as much as men; because they don’t bring the crowds and the dollars in.’
According to Christina, leader-to-leader advice is a powerful tool in learning, teaching and creating a successful and diverse workplace of tomorrow. ‘Peer support takes me out of my own environment and gives me an alternate perspective on how we could do things. As an advocate for diversity in all shapes and forms, I highly value the ideas and insights that are shared with me from some of the brightest minds across the country.’
This year the sport has a unique opportunity to focus on celebrating International Women’s Day through a worldwide cricket event, with the young T20 Women’s World Cup final to be played on the 8 March (the same day International Women’s Day falls).
For Christina, International Women’s Day is an important education tool to further gender equality in the sport she cherishes. ‘International Women’s Day is really important to keep getting the messages that we know are important out into the broader market; messages about equal pay, gender diversity and prevention around domestic violence – all of which are occurring in our industry,’ she says.
‘However, women’s cricket is only in its infancy and has already captured the hearts and minds of fans across the nation. While we’re playing catch-up, women should be rewarded and provided with opportunities that men have had for 100 years. It’s about understanding equality versus equal,’ she concludes.
Born in Victoria, Christina has played 20 Test Matches and 47 One Day Internationals for Australia. She holds the record for the most dismissals by an Australian wicketkeeper.
She has also served as the Australian women’s team manager, coach and chair of the national selection panel after she retired from the playing arena.
Having served in a series of administrative roles within women’s cricket, hockey and the Victorian Football Association before being appointed as General Manager of Commercial Operations and Communications at Cricket New South Wales, Matthews took on the WACA job in 2011.
Outside of her WACA role, Christina has turned her love of cycling into fundraising endeavours for a charity focused on youth mental health. She has been involved in Ride for Youth for the past five years, raising over $40,000 during that time.