Is your organisation diverse? How to begin changing the culture in your organisation.

Verity Postlethwaite, PhD Candidate at the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester, outlines how to get to grips with what we really mean by diversity and how considering three simple questions can help you to get your organisation thinking about a culture change. 

Diversity at national, regional and local level in sport is currently a hot topic with the sport and recreation sector being asked to look at their organisational culture and structures around leadership and participant, volunteer and workforce demographics. It is important that the sector is able to reflect society – particularly with an ever-changing environment – with a primary goal of getting more people active in sport and recreation more often. 

Measuring the culture of an organisation is difficult. Surveys can help reflect the current status of an organisations’ diversity – but they do little to help identify how to change or create a culture that embraces diversity. 

One place an organisation can start is by looking at how to make their workforce more diverse and the Equality Act (2010) can help with this. 

The Act brought together a variety of anti-discrimination laws around rights and opportunity in the workplace and wider society. It also outlined the nine protected characteristics such as age, disability, gender reassignment and civil partnership. It’s a who’s who of barriers to participation or why someone might not apply for a leadership role.  

So how can you put the Equality Act to best use? Well, once you feel comfortable with the principles of the Act, I’d advise you to consider the following: 

  • Do staff receive engaging training on a regular basis about good equality and diversity practice to make sure that your organisation is inclusive to all?  

  • When advertising for new roles, do you use inclusive language and structure in job descriptions? Do you market the role to a diverse range of audiences? 

  • Are there robust policies in place, that staff know about, to report discrimination?  

These three considerations are a great way to open conversation with your workforce. You’ll be able to discuss different perspectives with colleagues and consider what actions your organisation should take to be compliant with the Equality Act. A proactive and conversation- based approach is a tactic that will help you to cultivate a culture change. The Equality Act can provide you with a starting point. 

Sport England is soon to release their new workforce strategy – which will set out the aims and standards for the sport sector. But all organisations should be considering how they are  working towards becoming more inclusive. The  Sport and Recreation Alliance annual Sports Summit takes place on the 24 May at Emirates Stadium will be discussing diversity and how to make the sector more diverse – and importantly, how to change the culture and behaviours of an organisation to make this happen.

If you want to be part of the conversation at this year’s Sport Summit book your early bird ticket now and save £50.