Alliance survey shines light on under-representation in sector

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New research conducted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance shows that there is clear lack of representation of Black individuals across the board in the sport and recreation sector but tackling inequality remains a key priority for most organisations.

The findings come at a time when there are growing concerns that deep-rooted inequalities within sport and physical activity have widened amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The study focused on the survey responses of signatories to our Black Lives Matter statement who have all committed to creating opportunities that are truly accessible and inclusive.

The research shows that across the organisations which responded, just:

  • 1% of paid coaches are Black
  • 2% of volunteers are Black
  • 2% of employees are Black
  • 10% of board members are Black
  • 11% of athletes/participants are Black

According to the 2011 Census, one in five people in England are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, and it is clear from these findings that Black people are not being engaged with enough in our sector.

With this figure projected to increase to two in five people by 2051, failure to address inequalities now will only result in greater challenges when trying to accelerate long-term levels of engagement with sport and physical activity.

The survey also found that 44% of organisations felt Black individuals were at a disadvantage in their sport or recreational activity, while 31% of respondents believed that their culture was not welcoming or inclusive to people from Black communities.

Of those answering the survey, just 8% set targets for BAME individuals on boards, 1% set staff targets, and none set volunteer targets.

A Code for Sports Governance has been a game-changer in effecting positive change to the gender balance of sports boards, with women now accounting for 40% of board members across funded bodies as a result of a target which specifies boards must include a minimum of 30% of each gender.

This is currently the sole target within the Code, with the only requirement for ethnic diversity being that organisations must show a “strong and public commitment” to progressing.

Sport England and UK Sport recently announced a joint review of the Code in July with the aim of improving its elements that promote equality, diversity and inclusion.

This desire to reflect on current practices and openly discuss how to take positive action is also evident in our survey results.

55% of respondents have reviewed their equality and diversity document in the last six months while 75% consider equality and diversity to be an extremely high/high priority within their organisation.

Lisa Wainwright, Sport and Recreation Alliance CEO said: “We know representation of Black individuals in our sector is still far too low and there is much more for us to do collectively to tackle inequality among all disadvantaged groups.

“We need the sector to commit to disrupting the current culture, policies and practice within their individual sports, activities and organisations – only then will we see real tangible change.

“Organisations must start attracting and developing individuals from the widest pool of talent, whatever their background.

“The Alliance has also taken the chance to reflect and made a number of changes internally, including rewriting our recruitment guidelines to include enhanced inclusive practices such as including BAME representation on all recruitment processes.

“We have also signed up to Sporting Equals’ Race Equality Charter and all our managers have attended an Inclusive Leadership session as part of our Breaking Boundaries Management Development Programme.

“I hope this new insight can empower sport and recreation bodies to go a step further in championing opportunities for all.”

Other actions committed to by the Sport and Recreation Alliance include devising an action plan to support those in the sector who have signed our pledge to commit to tackling inequality and committing to ensuring that all speakers at our future events reflect the diversity of the sector.