It is our aim to drive change locally with regards to addressing inequalities in sport and physical activity, however this also starts with reflecting on ourselves and our own practices to ensure we are equitable. As a team, over the past couple of years we have focused on evaluating our policies, our internal processes and training, as well as our external work and communications, to ensure inclusion and accessibility is front and centre and that we are actively working to tackle inequalities in our Sussex communities.
The use of language in talking and writing about racial equality is important and at Active Sussex we will use the following guidelines.
Snapshot of the work we have been doing so far…….
As a member of the Active Partnership national steering group for Race Equality, Active Sussex’s Chief Executive has helped shape the learning and education of peers, particularly through sharing lived experience of racial barriers faced working and playing in the sector as a result of being a black person, and also female. The individual and shared learning workshops have enabled leaders and workers in the network to better understand these issues, and to work towards solutions that will begin to address these structural and systemic inequalities.
Developing our Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan
In July 2020, against the backdrop of Black Lives Matter, Sport England and UK Sport announced a review of the Code of Sports Governance, to which Active Sussex must adhere to. The review aimed at identifying areas where the Code would benefit from further development, with a substantive focus on those elements supporting diversity and inclusion and as such organisations must have a detailed and ambitious Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan to increase the level of diversity and inclusion not only on their Boards, but also on senior leadership teams and across their organisation and structures.
To support the creation of this plan, as well the development of our new five year strategy, Inclusive Employers facilitated a partner engagement session in October 2022. The session focused on the following;
- What priorities should be contained in our plan to address Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (internal and external work)? And why?
- Are there any particular challenges or gaps in our commitments so far? From your experiences of working with us or from reviewing our draft strategy.
- Continued ways of partnership working and checking and challenging us.
A summary from the partner engagement session can be found here.
Further consultation on a draft action plan is being undertaken in February and March 2023.
Our focus on equality, diversity and inclusion plays a key part in our new strategy (launching on 7 March). Underpinning the strategy is a clear operational action plan, with highlights shared on an annual basis. The developing Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan will also feed into this.
Developing a diverse and representative workforce will also be key to delivering our strategic priorities. So far we have created a Female coaching community to increase the number of women coaches in Sussex and through the delivery of the Coach Core Apprenticeships scheme we are engaging young people from a range of backgrounds.
Culture & belonging
We want to foster an inclusive culture across the organisation and wider network, and so we must look from within and what we do to ensure all staff feel listened to, as well as building knowledge and confidence to be allies.
Therefore discussions around race and race equality have taken place at team meetings and all staff have the opportunity to feed in their thoughts around Equality, Diversity & Inclusion both internally within the workplace and our approach externally via a quarterly feedback form.
Most recently a Time to Talk chat group has been set up and for staff to share thoughts, articles, podcasts, etc, about EDI topics, and on a fortnightly basis time is set aside for staff to join a group session to share, discussion and learn.
Learning from others
Although as an organisation we have been working on this issue for some time, we are by no means experts and can’t do it alone. We are in communication with our Active Partnership peers and share knowledge and resources across the network.
We also draw on the knowledge and experiences of local partners and people within Sussex, and share this insight through opportunities such as our network events, case studies and training workshops.
Where there are gaps in knowledge, providing training and more formal learning opportunities are key to increasing our understanding of equality and social justice, and to be allies working to achieve meaningful change.
To support this learning journey staff and board members have attended various training sessions such as ‘Sport, Physical Activity and Trans People: The Basics’ delivered by Gendered Intelligence and Tackling Racism and Racial Inequality as part of the Active Partnership Network Convention 2021.
All staff are also part of a 12-month Inclusive Employers Leading for Renewal Programme and have attended a range of webinars and learning events, as well as Active Sussex specific session looking at topics such as bias, microaggressions, language and inclusive best practice.
Our Children & Young People Investment Fund is supporting our partners to make it easier for young people to get active – and stay active. Over the last year over £20,000 of funding has been distributed across 12 projects focusing on diverse priority groups. Read our Impact Report to find out more.
Sport England’s Together Fund (previously the Tackling Inequalities Fund) was created in June 2020 to reduce the inequalities in activity levels between different groups in society, with a specific focus on:
- Lower socio-economic groups
- Ethnically diverse communities
- Disabled people
- People with long-term health conditions
Active Sussex took the decision to prioritise a proportion of the Fund to support Black, Asian and ethnically diverse communities across Sussex with a particular focus on areas with higher numbers.
Active Sussex worked closely with local partners such as local authorities, wellbeing teams, voluntary action organisations, and most importantly community leaders to widen the reach of this work and ensure the investment was reaching organisations who are led by people from these communities.
Neighbourhoods where more than 5% of the population are of South Asian ethnicity were prioritised and neighbourhoods where more than 5% of the population are of Black ethnicity were prioritised.
Active Sussex has invested over £954,73 of this funding so far into projects focusing on ethnically diverse communities to address levels of inequalities.
The learning that has come from this work has been widely shared with partners such as providers who are inclusive but do not specifically target people from ethnically diverse communities, tend not to engage people from this priority group.
Tackling Inequalities Fund
To support our diversity journey we have moved to using an unbiased/blind-shortlisting application process to ensure we have an internal hiring solution that removes the possibility of unconscious bias coming into our recruitment process.
We are also looking at our advertisement of roles to a wider network in order to grow the diversity of our staff team and board.