Lacrosse’s DNA is diverse, with Native American origins and the women’s International Federation being formalized prior to the men’s. Stemming from the belief that every person has the ability – and the fundamental human right – to participate in lacrosse, World Lacrosse is committed to being a leader among global sports organizations in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion.
World Lacrosse Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement (adopted in 2021)
World Lacrosse is committed to the belief that our world must be inclusive in its diversity, visionary in its approach to equal opportunities in sports participation for all and pioneering in seeking equitable outcomes for all our stakeholders. Through our engagement in the sport of lacrosse internationally and regionally, we must be the voice of diversity, equity and inclusion for our athletes, coaches, staff and volunteers all over the world. We accomplish this by engaging in a robust and broad dialogue with our National and Continental Federations, committees and key organizations, and in acting as a role model for diversity, opportunity and inclusion for our members.
Leadership & Governance
- World Lacrosse has a female president and vice president, putting it among a group of 10 IFs with a female president (among 75).
- World Lacrosse employs 50 percent female staff (40 percent female director and above), with BIPOC and LGBTQ representation.
- In 2020, WL created a Women in Sport Commission and Diversity & Opportunity Commission to focus, develop and help implement strategy and action points across the organization. The creation of both reflects the priority and commitment WL assigns to DEI issues, and recognition of the need to improve and support its member federations in fulfilling similar priorities. Also in 2020, WL pledged its commitment to the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations’ One Humanity campaign, which calls for solidarity, compassion, and unity in the face of discrimination and divisiveness.
- In 2021, a diversity & inclusion director was added to WL’s board. That position helps ensure that there is consistency and commitment across the organization; that WL aims for best practice in these areas, taken from a global perspective; and that the principles of equality, diversity and opportunity are understood and embedded, along with a culture of inclusion. The same year, WL adopted a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement, updated its recruitment and hiring practices with a focus on inclusion, approved a comprehensive protected class list, added DEI-based language to the WL Constitution glossary, and began using gender-inclusive pronouns in all current and future documentation.
- In 2022, WL partnered with the U.S. National Center for Transgender Equality to create a trans-inclusive participation policy for the organization, to be completed by Q1 2023.
World Lacrosse’s Gender Equality and Diversity Policy, and Anti-Discrimination Policy can both be found in the WL Handbook.
- Lacrosse has a long history of participation by women that equals participation by men.
- The first school to adopt lacrosse as a women’s sport was St Leonard’s in St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1890. Since then, women’s lacrosse developed independently from men’s lacrosse, with its own rules and governing associations.
- Whereas in many sports the female version is more of an afterthought to the men’s game, the origin of women’s lacrosse started with its own identity. The women’s international federation was formed prior to the men’s federation. It wasn’t until 2008 the two federations merged to form what is now World Lacrosse.
- Today, the women’s game is just as, if not more, robust in participation and growth than the men’s game.
- World Lacrosse’s newest discipline – Sixes – is fully equitable and exactly the same across genders.
- World Lacrosse’s championship-level events have been equalized with the addition of a women’s box lacrosse world championship; the organization now awards four men’s and four women’s world titles quadrennially.
- World Lacrosse has continued to prioritize the harmonization of practices and rules across the men’s and women’s game.
- As the originators of lacrosse, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy was granted membership in World Lacrosse in 1985, and has been competing as a sovereign nation since that time, and is a perennial contender across all disciplines.
- The global lacrosse community uniformly recognizes the gift of the game of lacrosse given to the world by the Haudenosaunee, and Native American culture is acknowledged, honored and celebrated at nearly all lacrosse competitions
- Five new members in last year, 10 in last decade
- Japan won its first world-level medal at The World Games 2022
- Chinese participation has grown 10x in the past five year
- Africa Association of Lacrosse formed in February 2022
- Formed as part of Lacrosse for All: Africa, an IOC-supported initiative started in early 2020 by World Lacrosse to further the development of the sport on the African continent
- 100 percent membership growth in last three years – from three to six members – and anticipating five additional members by the end of 2022
- Addition of full-time Africa sport development manager on WL staff to facilitate further growth
Latin America / Pan-American Lacrosse Association
- Six new Latin American members in the last five years among eight total new PALA members, with many more in progress
- Jamaica became the first Caribbean nation to compete in the World Lacrosse Women’s Championship this summer; also competed in the Men’s U21 Championship for the first time, earning a top-10 finish
- Colombia recently hosted the first men’s world championship qualifier in the PALA region