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Tackling inequalities in the sport sector

Tackling inequalities in the sport sector

Categories: Safeguarding and equality Sport Industry News

In June Sport England acknowledged that, while they - and the Active Partnerships - already focus much of their work on tackling long-standing inequalities contributing to people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds being far less likely to be physically active, we’ve so much more to do.

Responding to the abhorrent killing of George Floyd, they outlined their support to the Black Lives Matter movement, committing to improving diversity within the sport and physical activity sector.

They identified several areas where they wanted to focus their work and have spent the past few months in wide consultation with colleagues and partners, Active Sussex included, to take decisions on the next steps.

A female archery coach instructs another woman at an archery lesson outdoors.

Alongside the four other UK sports councils, Sport England announced our role as part of a major piece of work to analyse existing data on racial inequalities and to create an opportunity to listen to more experience of it.

They are outlining our next steps to not only help and support more people from BAME backgrounds to take part in sport and physical activity, but to support the sector in diversifying its workforce at every level – from leadership, to coaching and administrative roles – and to do much more to stamp out racism and tackle inequalities.

You can read more about our reasoning for this in the latest blog from Sport England chief executive, Tim Hollingsworth.

Read Tim's blog

Increasing levels of BAME leadership across the sector

Together with UK Sport, Sport England have begun a wide-ranging review of the Code for Sports Governance.

The code, when introduced, was one of the most significant interventions ever made in improving how organisations are run in our sector.

It’s already been successful in relation to gender equality, with women now accounting for 40% of board members across their funded bodies, and in significantly increasing the number of independent board members with new skills and different backgrounds.

The ongoing review aims to ensure greater representation of BAME groups and may result in specific targets being introduced.

The partnership with recruitment specialists Perrett Laver will continue to identify and develop a pool of talented and diverse board candidates for funded organisations - such as Active Sussex - to use when recruiting for their board roles. Sport England have also commissioned recruitment specialists to support them on further work auditing the current picture of diversity in leadership roles beyond the boards of sporting organisations. 

The review of the code is scheduled to conclude in December, with publication of the changes early in the New Year.

A coach gives instructions at a walking football session.

Using strategy to drive long-term change

Sport England are also currently consulting on the development of their new long-term strategy.

One of the central themes emerging from this is a widespread support for the focus on using funding and expertise to help others in the sector tackle inequalities in society, and helping under-represented groups engage with sport and physical activity.

Race and ethnicity will be a continued focus as we support the sector to use sport and physical activity to improve lives and communities around England. And we’ll be unapologetic about using our influence to support those in society who stand to benefit the most from being active.

Given this focus, we’re confident that the strategy will be our biggest and most significant contributor to tackling racism and racial inequality in sport and physical activity, with further details being set out as we prepare to publish our plan early next year.

Active Sussex are committed to tackling racism

As an organisation we have been working on this issue for some time, although we recognise, given the size and scale of the challenge, the need to do more than we’ve ever done before.

Sadie Mason MBE, chief executive at Active Sussex said:

"Active Sussex is firm on anti-racism and works to ensure its policies and practices are inclusive, respectful and non-discriminatory. We are committed to providing an environment of continuous learning and understanding of racism, both at individual and organisational level to challenge negative stereotypes and practices in our sector. Along with Sport England, and as a member of the Active Partnership network, we aim to ensure that sport and physical activity opportunities are not denied to any individual because of their skin colour."

Our independent chair of trustees, Stephanie Maurel also added:

"The work that we do is dedicated to tackling the inequalities that exist across Sussex, and it is more important than ever for us to stand strong together and unite against this issue and support the communities who are affected by it every day."