Clementine brings over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, management and purpose in different industries. With an impressive 11-year tenure at adidas, Clementine holds today the pivotal role of Sustainability Lead, driving initiatives that prioritise both people and planet. Trained B Corp, Clementine champions sustainability and social responsibility, demonstrating her commitment to creating a more inclusive and sustainable future. Her passion is palpable through her dedicated leadership of the Breaking Barriers For Girls project. We spoke with Clementine to get her thoughts on the commercial growth of women’s sport.
With an impressive 11-year tenure at adidas, Clementine holds today the pivotal role of Sustainability Lead, driving initiatives that prioritise both people and planet. Trained B Corp, Clementine champions sustainability and social responsibility, demonstrating her commitment to creating a more inclusive and sustainable future. Her passion is palpable through her dedicated leadership of the Breaking Barriers For Girls project. We spoke with Clementine to get her thoughts on the commercial growth of women’s sport.
Q – For someone with your extensive experience, how do you feel commercial awareness has grown around women’s sport in the last decade?
Women’s sport is more visible and popular than 10 years ago, and some organisations have already picked up the commercial opportunity. I see 2 main levers: market share and brand perception, which goes hand in hand. On one side, by meaningful investment in women’s sport, brands are building credibility, as a brand committed to gender equity, resonates with today’s purpose driven consumer, especially Gen Z as nearly 80% of Gen Z say it’s important for brands to address diversity and inclusion. On the other side, women currently account 1/3 of the total sports performance market share, representing a high growth opportunity.
Q – What do you think has been the catalyst for this growth?
The growth has been supported by 2 things from my perspective: more investment and more visibility. More investment led to more visibility and here starts the virtuous circle, because more visibility also brought more investment! We saw positive change in several sports and countries but one great example is the Football Association, who announced a record-breaking three-year deal with Sky Sports and the BBC for the broadcast rights to the Women’s Super League worth around £8million per year. It became the biggest broadcast deal of any professional women’s football league in the world and supported the game’s growth in the past 12 months. The main outcome was the Euro 2022 being a breakthrough moment for women’s football in England with a peak television audience of 17 million, the biggest UK audience for a programme in 2022, tuned in to watch England beat Germany in the final. Attendance records were smashed in the group stages of the tournament, and 87,192 people attended the final – the most for any Euros fixture, men or women’s. Last but not least, the 2023 Women's World Cup final attracted record television viewing figures for women's football, capping off a tournament which had also drawn a record number of fans at the stadiums. We saw surprising results, with some of the favorites being eliminated quickly and the underdogs going further. It showed that all teams are getting better and most importantly more teams have the resources to do so.
Q – Have you seen an increase in female participation in sports during your career and if so, what has this looked like?
When I was a kid, I didn’t know or see my friends playing sports other than tennis and dance. I also don’t recall watching any women playing sport on TV, except again tennis or gymnastics, fast forward to today, my six-year-old daughter started playing football in a girls team, not very far from where we live. On the amateur side, I think there is a lot more opportunities for girls and women to play sport, especially team sports.
On the professional side, we also see more women teams, more women coaches and referees. One of the consequences is we see more women athletes in the Olympics for example and more medals, going back to this virtuous circle of more investment = more visibility.
Not yet where we should be, but we have made progress.
Q – How important are initiatives such as Breaking Barriers Project, and how important is WSA’s involvement in projects like this?
The adidas Breaking Barriers project is meant to increase girls’ participation in sport. Even if we have seen an increase in terms of girls and women’s participation and representation in sport, there is still some work to do.
The shocking fact that by the age of 14, girls are dropping out of sports at two times the rate of boys. The main barriers of this being lack of access, lack of role models and social stigmas.
Inspired by this, adidas launched in 2020, the Breaking Barriers for girls’ project, a multi-year commitment to championing women and girls in sport. To do this, adidas is working with 15 nonprofits organisations to make an impact on the ground, 100 champions to be leaders in gender equity in their own communities. Ultimately, they aim to break barriers for over 50,000 girls.
The collaboration with WSA was a no-brainer. With WSA’s mission to advance women’s sport and adidas looking to scale the impact of the project, the partnership became evident. The objective is to go one step further by amplifying the voices of women athletes and shining a light on the remarkable leaders behind the scenes who are breaking barriers and empowering the next generation of women and girls in sport.
Q – How do you see women’s sport evolving over the next 10 years, and what role will organisations like WSA play in the next decade?
I see an acceleration of the growth as more and more organisations will pick up commercial opportunities. It doesn’t matter why they are doing it as long as it’s driving positive change. I am convinced we will see even more investment and visibility, more professional women’s teams, more women coaches, more women referees, and even a positive influence on the men’s game as well.