In July 2020, against the backdrop of Black Lives Matter and over three years of implementing, assessing and supporting the governance of organisations in line with its provisions, we and UK Sport announced a review of the Code.
This was aimed at identifying areas where the Code would benefit from further development, with a substantive focus on those elements supporting diversity and inclusion. The review also provided the opportunity to compare the requirements in the Code against best practice in governance, recognising that thinking may have moved on and further improvements may be found in sport and other sectors.
The review took a comprehensive look at every aspect of the Code – not only each individual Principle, Requirement and related commentary but also how the Code is presented, used and applied. For this, it's drawn heavily on expertise and insight from teams across UK Sport and Sport England, independent experts and a wide range of partners and stakeholders. We want to offer our sincerest thanks to all those who've shared their views with us and contributed so meaningfully to this review.
The review was clear from the outset that any changes to the Code should be evidence-based. Two important pieces of work have supported this: the first was an externally-sourced audit of Board diversity of more than 130 funded partners; the second was an independently-led consultation conducted through an online survey and focus groups, receiving more than 200 responses.
This consultation revealed:
- 87% of organisations funded by UK Sport and/or Sport England found the Code helpful
- While some organisations faced significant challenges in implementing some of the requirements through their membership, 88% said the Code has tightened their organisation’s governance
- Key impact areas were found to be Board diversity (particularly with regard to increasing women on Boards) and term lengths
- The compliance process was felt to be rigorous and supportive.
We also know that since its introduction, the Code's attracted significant interest internationally and several countries have now emulated it.
National governing bodies of sport also routinely engage with their international federations, with the Code providing a valuable framework for sharing knowledge and informing governance reform at an international level.
of organisations funded by us and/or UK Sport said the Code has tightened their governance
We've been heartened by the positive impact the Code's achieved, thanks to the huge work funded partners have carried out in recent years to implement it and further enhance good governance in the sector.
However, the review also highlighted several areas for improvement, including making the Code more accessible and easier to understand; providing more guidance in terms of explanations, templates and case studies; and encouraging greater flexibility and proportionality based on size and capacity.
Critically, while progress has taken place, the review revealed the need and demand for (as well as desire from) organisations working in sport and physical activity to do far more in ensuring they – and the sector as a whole – reflect and are representative of the diversity of the society we serve.
The inclusion of topics such as environmental sustainability, welfare and safety, and the expansion of the Code from Boards to other parts of organisations, also emerged as areas for development.