LEARNING FROM BLACK HISTORY MONTH: COALITION COMMITS TO COLLECTIVE ACTION AND BOARD REFORM

The Sport for Development Coalition has marked the close of Black History Month 2020 by announcing a new long-term commitment to collective action around diversity, and to the reform of its Board governance.

The month has seen a wide range of actors and supporters across sport and physical activity publish important research, for example Sported on racism in grassroots sport and the Sport & Recreation Alliance on the lack of representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals across the sector. Youth Sport Trust, Chance to Shine and the Premier League have created resources for schools to increase inclusion and reduce discrimination.

Chair of the Sport for Development Coalition’s Board, Andy Reed, revealed that – following the award of new funding for the SFDC – processes are now in place with the aim of it becoming more representative and reflective of the sector it serves, and indeed of society.

Picture courtesy of Greenhouse Sports

“We are very grateful to everybody who has helped the Coalition get to this point in its evolution, but we must also acknowledge that we have to work harder – much harder, in fact, on diversity and inclusion across the sector including at Board and Executive level,” he said.

“This has been a focus for me during my first year as Chair, and I am delighted to say that we are now in the process of moving on governance, with the full backing of the current Board, and with a series of changes to be implemented over the next months.

“The organisers of Black History Month have urged every single one of us to ‘dig deeper, look closer and think bigger’, and we want to use this seminal moment, following in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, to ensure an unstinting focus on becoming more representative and reflective of modern society.”

PRIORITY

The Coalition’s announcement follows research conducted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance which shows there is clear lack of representation of Black individuals across the sport and recreation sector, even though tackling inequality remains a key priority for many organisations.

Across organisations which responded to the Alliance survey, just 1% of paid coaches and 2% of employees are Black. Representation improves for Board members (10%) and athletes or participants (11%), but these figures still fall way short of the 2011 Census which shows that 20% of people in England are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. This is expected to increase to 40%, or two in five people, by in the middle of the century, demonstrating that the sector needs to quickly get its house in order.

Underscoring this issue, research published by Sported this month revealed that Black, Asian and minority ethnic people working or volunteering in community sport can feel “patronised and poorly represented”.

Read Sported research ‘Tackling Racism at the Grassroots’

The charity, which oversees a network of 2600 grassroots and community clubs and groups, carried out the qualitative research this summer in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. Between August and September, it conducted focus groups with 15 organisations in its network, across all four home nations, in order “to understand directly from members their experiences of racism with the community sport sector”.

The research uses direct quotes to highlight the sense of frustration and discrimination which persists, with comments like “Whatever we feed in, the strategy will still be played out through a white lens” and ““I want to see more Black faces in positions of power, who are there to influence and are there for the long term”.

“As an industry, it is evident that much more needs to be done,” said CEO Nicola Walker, who also published a blog on the research. “Sported is committed to improving the opportunities and experiences of our members – as we feel they are best placed to drive the change we want to see.

LEARNING

“We also invite any other organisations to input into the findings of the research, or share them across their own networks.”

In another blog Steve Nelson, Chief Executive of Wesport – the Active Partnership for the West of England, wrote about how he and a group of fellow Chief Executives from the Active Partnership network have come together in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests to stage a series of learning events.

These events have created a safe space to learn and share experiences, and look at what commitments and actions can be made across the national network of 43 Active Partnerships.


Access resources from Youth Sport Trust

This month Youth Sport Trust made a series of resources available to help make PE and school sport more inclusive for Black, Asian and minority ethnic young people. This includes the Trust’s code of governance diversity action plan and links to other useful resources across the sport and physical activity sector. To find out more, visit youthsporttrust.org/bame.

To support schools celebrating Black History Month, the national cricket charity Chance to Shine developed a series of resources to help primary and secondary schoolchildren learn about some of the Black players who have represented England including Jofra Archer, Ebony Rainford-Brent and Roland Butcher. The charity has also produced an activity session that aims to support pupils in developing their cricketing skills whilst consolidating classroom learning about the importance of diversity in cricket and in life. 

To mark the month, the Midlands-based sport for employability charity, Sport 4 Life, used social media to publish a series of powerful quotes from across their organisation and beyond, including the young people it works to support. Perhaps the most impressive came from 23-year-old Nicole, who said: “It is extremely important that now more than ever, we are looking out for one another.

EDUCATE

“We must continue to educate ourselves and those around us, not only on Black history, but also on the ongoing injustice that the Black community face every day. We must come together and celebrate this month and always appreciate those around us.”

Students from London South Bank University’s School of Arts and Creative Industries have been working to produce a series of films for the Rio Ferdinand Foundation. The short films were being released during Black History Month and also to support the Hope Collective, which will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the death of Damilola Taylor on November 27th. Read more about the Collective at hope2020.uk.

Using the hashtag #FitnessHeroes, uk active highlighted the “game-changing contributions that Black people have made in the fitness and sport sector”, ranging from coaches like former England soccer boss Hope Powell CBE and Wales rugby league captain Clive Sullivan MBE to Black-owned sports businesses like the sportswear brand, Y-Fit Wear.

A new Football Leadership Diversity Code was launched with the aim of driving diversity and inclusion across football in England. More than 40 clubs across the Premier League, EFL, Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have signed up to the Code and committed to tackle inequality across senior leadership positions, broader team operations and coaching roles.

The Code focuses on increasing equality of opportunity with hiring targets – rather than quotas – to encourage recruitment from across society. Hiring will be based on merit, to find the best person for the job from diverse talent pipelines and the aim is to move away from recruitment practices focused on personal networks, which is a longstanding challenge across football and has limited the diversity in leadership across the game.

Paul Elliott, chair of the English Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board, said: “Positive and tangible action is required to drive change and take the next step. We hope more clubs join us as we move forward.”

During the month, the Premier League also launched its new ‘No Room for Racism’ campaign. As well as encouraging fans to “challenge it, report it, change it” if they witness discrimination, the campaign provides a series of resources for schools to use via its ‘Premier League Primary Stars’ scheme. In the resources, top Black footballers are filmed talking about their life experiences and careers, and schoolchildren are encouraged to design posters illustrating the campaign messages.

To find out more about Black History Month, click this link blackhistorymonth.org.uk. To share what your Sport for Development organisation is doing to ‘dig deeper, look closer and think bigger’ in fighting racism and discrimination email slansley@sportfordevelopmentcoalition.org.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: