Despite the launch of two inclusivity schemes in sport the UK’s Black Asian and Minority Ethnic Community’s remain poorly represented at management levels. The Sporting Equal’s Charter following on from the governments Sporting Futures Strategy, aims to amongst other things break down BAME barriers and make sport more inclusive.

Damning Statistics

Asian Sunday has learned however BAME board representation stands at a paltry four per cent, just one per cent higher than in 2016. What’s more there are currently no BAME Chief Executive Officers and only one Chair right across sport in the UK. A total of 30 individual sports have no senior BAME representation at any level, and the sporting workforce remains largely white.

We also discovered gender only targets had been set by those same groups under pressure from the government, with female representation successfully leading the way. In fact, All Boards of Sports Governing Bodies or SGB’S, were told there must be 30 per cent presentation by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics or risk funding cuts or total withdrawal of funding.

According to 2016 figures:

  • Female representation in boardrooms of public ally funded sports had reached an average of 30 per cent for the first time. That’s an increase from the first audit figure of 21 per cent.
  • Of the 63 organisations surveyed 26 had at least 30 per cent female representation in boardrooms with more than one third already hitting targets.
  • On Boardroom executive teams, women made up an average of 40 per cent – an increase of 19 per cent since 2009.

This made clear what had been achieved in terms of gender was something to be celebrated with many lessons learned in the process. It also demonstrated targets do actually work, evidenced by the increasing profile and opportunities at both executive level and on boards since the imposition of the targets.

Sporting Strategy

The Government’s “Sporting Futures” strategy sets out a bold and ambitious direction for sport and policy, with Sport England’s “Towards an Active Nation” calling for the need to embrace diversity and change to get the nation active. Sports organisations have been challenged by Sport England to tackle under representation at all levels to reflect the society we live in.

Scott Lloyd, CEO of the LTA, said: “We are really proud to be the first organisation to commit to this important Charter. The LTA’s new vision is to open up tennis to as many people and communities as possible, and I want tennis to lead the way in promoting ethnic diversity in sport.”

Catalyst For Change

Arun Kang CEO Sporting Equals commenting on the programme explained: “The charter will be a real catalyst for change. It allows sport organisations to work at their own pace but gather baseline data to analyse areas for improvement and measure their successes, in the interventions they make. I’m pleased with the support we have had for the Charter and I’m certain governing bodies of sport will welcome this opportunity to sign the Charter and work towards race equality and more ethnic diversity across sport”.

Work Still To Do

But all the bodies involved admit whilst there have been positive developments in numerous sports the work is not complete.

Former FA Race Equality Board Chair Yunus Lunat. was on the Panel Q & A where he raised the issue of targets in response to being asked about any positive initiatives that have worked.

The employment law solicitor who hales from Kirklees and works in Leeds, challenged Sport England, UK Sport and the Governing Bodies over how they could commit themselves to gender only targets in 2016 in light of the available data on those from a BAME background.

He told me: “It transpired nobody in the room had any awareness of the statistics I had shared. Sport England and UK Sport attempted to explain it away by saying ‘they had relied upon advice to exclude race targets for fear of being seen as tokenism.’

“My response to that was as to whether it had occurred to anybody setting gender only targets would similarly be viewed as tokenism. And yet they still proceeded with gender only targets at a time when women were actually hitting targets in over 1/3 of NGBs, and the remainder were on course to achieve targets. Race was not even on the starting blocks.

“The Sport England CEO admitted targets do work and result in effective change, yet after a wasted three years on the race agenda, neither he nor any of the SGB’s could commit themselves to talk about, let alone set race targets.

No Response

Asian Sunday contacted Sport England but were unable to get a response.

Yunus added:“How can we have confidence in our leaders when they themselves have discriminatory attitudes. It all raises serious issues about leadership, or lack of, particularly in light of the continuing issues surrounding racism in football.”