These next steps can be broken down into four key areas.
Becoming a more diverse organisation
We recognise that we must be more diverse and inclusive, and we’ve worked closely with our own internal BAME network and our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group to develop changes focused on leadership, attracting, retaining and developing BAME talent, and wider staff engagement.
As part of these measures, we're setting a new target to double the proportion of BAME background staff in Sport England over the next five years. This means a minimum of 20% of staff to come from a BAME background by 2026, halfway through our new 10-year strategy which we’ll launch in early 2021. Although historically we've had had low staff turnover, we believe this is a realistic and ambitious target and we are committed to meeting it.
We’re also reviewing our current recruitment practices to ensure they’re debiased, transparent, equitable and fair. We’ll be opening up opportunities at Level 5 and above both externally and internally at the same time, to drive greater opportunity for recruitment of more diverse candidates at a senior level. We’ll also be creating more roles at Level 6 to bridge the gap between administrative and non-administrative grades.
And we’ll continue our popular, and successful, Let’s Talk about Race sessions run by Business in the Community, which more than half our staff have already attended, and we’ll continue our support for the Race at Work Charter, acknowledging that the role of leadership will be crucial in driving forward with our goals.
We’re also creating a new position at a senior level to lead our external diversity and inclusion drive, more details on which will be set out shortly.
Increasing levels of BAME leadership across the sector
Together with UK Sport, we’ve begun a wide-ranging review of the Code for Sports Governance.
The code, when introduced, was one of the most significant interventions ever made in improving how organisations are run in our sector.
It’s already been successful in relation to gender equality, with women now accounting for 40% of board members across our funded bodies, and in significantly increasing the number of independent board members with new skills and different backgrounds.
The ongoing review aims to ensure greater representation of BAME groups and may result in specific targets being introduced.
Our partnership with recruitment specialists Perrett Laver will continue to identify and develop a pool of talented and diverse board candidates for our funded organisations to use when recruiting for their board roles. We’ve also commissioned recruitment specialists to support us on further work auditing the current picture of diversity in leadership roles beyond the boards of sporting organisations.
The review of the code is scheduled to conclude in December, with publication of the changes early in the New Year.
Using our strategy to drive long-term change
We’re currently consulting on the development of our new long-term strategy.
One of the central themes emerging from this is a widespread support for our focus on using our funding and expertise to help others in the sector tackle inequalities in society, and helping under-represented groups engage with sport and physical activity.
Race and ethnicity will be a continued focus as we support the sector to use sport and physical activity to improve lives and communities around England. And we’ll be unapologetic about using our influence to support those in society who stand to benefit the most from being active.
Given this focus, we’re confident that the strategy will be our biggest and most significant contributor to tackling racism and racial inequality in sport and physical activity, with further details being set out as we prepare to publish our plan early next year.
The work set out above is not happening in isolation – we’ve been working on this issue for some time, although we recognise, given the size and scale of the challenge, the need to do more than we’ve ever done before.
Our existing work on this issue includes: