New support to help make sports boardrooms more diverse

November 22, 2016

Ahead of the third Sporting Equals LeaderBoard Conference at EY’s headquarters in London, Sport England and UK Sport have pledged support to help more black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) professionals and athletes get appointed to sports boards.

Following the recently announced Governance Code for Sport, the two government agencies have backed Sporting Equals’ efforts to help national governing bodies and other sports organisations work proactively to create more opportunities for BAME candidates to fill roles.

This includes Sporting Equals’ LeaderBoard Programme and the newly-created LeaderBoard Academy which will provide training, mentoring and coaching support for candidates.

Recent audits conducted on the profile of national governing body boards and senior teams show that there is a significant lack of BAME diversity.

Sporting Equals latest 2016 figures suggest that only 26 out of 601 board positions (4 per cent) have BAME members and out of 68 sports organisations only one has a BAME CEO.

The Sporting Equals LeaderBoard and Academy will provide national governing bodies with a thorough and transparent process to encourage greater diversity in board and leadership roles at a national and, where relevant, regional and county level.

Arun Kang, Sporting Equals CEO, said, “These are exciting times for British sport as there will be real commitment to develop and support governing bodies and other sporting organisations with their diversity strategies that ensure they empathise, engage and increase the ethnic diversity in their decision making positions which ultimately will give them financial dividends. We will also empower the BAME professionals and former athletes to be ‘board ready’ to further support the development of sport in the UK.”

The Sporting Equals LeaderBoard Conference will be hosted by Sky Sports News broadcaster Mike Wedderburn and the Event will feature Olympic and Paralympic legends Christine Ohuruogu MBE and Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson.

Phil Smith, Sport England’s director of sport, said: “We were really proud to launch the Governance Code for Sport after a lot of hard work to deliver against a pretty challenging brief. But clearly, the job doesn’t stop there.

“Whilst the code is one of the most advanced in the world, what it shows is that so much more needs to be done to help sports organisations to be truly reflective of the customers and communities they serve.

“We want our sporting bodies to be among the best run in the world and it’s important that the public have full confidence in them. The onus is now on them to reach the code’s standards, and if they can’t or won’t, they will not be eligible to receive public money for their work.

“But as well as setting the required standards, we want to help and encourage as many sports bodies as possible to reach them. That includes encouragement and guidance on improving diversity in all its forms. 

“Sporting Equals work is a vital part of this, supporting more BAME professionals and athletes to take up roles they are rightly qualified to hold. This is a really positive step forward, but only the very start.”

Simon Morton, UK Sport’s chief operating officer, said: “The new Governance Code requires funded organisations to demonstrate a strong, public commitment to increasing diversity, including BAME diversity, on their boards.  They will be required to publish action plans and publicly report on progress against them each year. UK Sport and Sport England have committed to give funded organisations support to meet these enhanced diversity requirements. We therefore welcome the announcement of the Leaderboard Academy, and look forward to working with Sporting Equals and Sport England to increase the number of BAME candidates for positions on boards.”

 Christine Ohuruogu, a Sporting Equals Ambassador, said: “I’m delighted to be supporting the Sporting Equals Leaderboard programme. The continued work of Sporting Equals will I am sure go a long way to helping create a long term solution for BAME professionals and former athletes as they look to secure board level positions in sport.”

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