Sport governing bodies will have to sign up to ‘diversity action plans’ but not boardroom targets

Sports governing bodies will be forced to sign up to “detailed and ambitious” diversity action plans under a revised Code for Sports Governance – but they have been controversially spared minimum targets to get more ethnic minorities on their boards.

They must also appoint a director with responsibility for welfare and safety under updated rules for organizations that receive taxpayers’ money, which will finally be unveiled on Friday, a year after the government ordered a review of the existing code.

Plans for that review were announced less than 24 hours later telegraph sports The investigation revealed the shocking lack of black people in positions of real power within the sector, revealing that only 3 percent of the board members of the largest national governing bodies (NGBs) were black.

This has put pressure on the government to ensure that at least one in five directors of sports federations is from an ethnic minority background. Sports Secretary Nigel Huddleston warned that anything below a 20 percent threshold was unacceptable for black and minority ethnic (BAME) people.

But the revised code puts a stop to that, although it continues to force NGBs that receive public funds to ensure at least 30 percent of their directors are women.

Instead, they must agree with UK Sport and Sport England on a Comprehensive Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), which they must publish and comply with or risk having their funding withdrawn.

The latter’s managing director, Tim Hollingsworth, said telegraph sports additional board targets were considered, but this would have meant having them for a variety of different groups representing a variety of protected characteristics.

“It would actually become quite a sign at that level,” he said, arguing that the diaps represented a “more sophisticated approach.”

“The approach is instead to step back and say to each and every organization, ‘These are the areas that matter. What will your approach be? How will you influence this change?”

Hollingsworth was confident that those who had called for ethnic quotas, which included the charity Sporting Equals, would be persuaded of the code’s changes.

He also cited data showing that of the 4,000 organizations receiving government and lottery funds from UK Sport and Sport England, since the original code came into force five years ago, the average proportion of Bame and disabled directors on the boards of those bodies is from four percent to 13 percent and from three percent to 13 percent.

And he hoped the Code would inspire football clubs like the Premier League – which are not bound by it – to address the shocking lack of diversity in their own boardrooms.

That telegraph Sports Research over the past year found that no top club and virtually no team in the English Football League had a black owner, chairman or chief executive officer.

That was after Raheem Sterling called out the lack of black leaders in the game following the murder of George Floyd in the United States.

Hollingsworth said: “I hope that while there’s not that direct way of influencing that, indirectly we’re going to create a cultural sense in sport of what matters and that’s certainly going to be something we’d try to make one part of it all.”

In recognition of the scandals that have engulfed the sport since the original code was published, the revised version requires NGBs to appoint a director responsible for welfare and safety.

Hollingsworth added in a statement: “Today marks a milestone in the evolution of our sector, in the way it is governed and how we ensure fairness and inclusion for all.

“We are incredibly proud of the impact the Code for Sports Governance has had since 2016 and the way it has been embraced as a vehicle for meaningful and positive change.

“The changes announced today build on that momentum. We are confident that the new requirements – and in particular the focus on the impact of ambitious diversity and inclusion action plans – will be welcomed and embraced. It is another step towards a greater diversity of background, experience and understanding of sports and activity environments that hold a place at the forefront of sports organizations.”

UK Sport Chief Executive Sally Munday said: “The review of the Code for Sports Governance is an important part of UK Sport and Sport England’s commitment to ensuring the organizations we invest in are well governed. A big drive for us is supporting successful organizations that reflect the diversity of the country we represent.

“The review is clear evidence of how many positive changes can be made to drive good governance in sport and that diversity of thought at boardrooms leads to better run organisations. The review has identified some clear next steps, and we look forward to working with our partners and stakeholders to further improve the standards of governance for high-performance sport and ensure our high-performance community is truly inclusive.”

Huddleston added: “I strongly believe that sport should be at the forefront of good governance, diversity and inclusion. The introduction of the Code for Sports Governance in 2016 marked a sea change in governance standards across the sector. These changes, announced today, are the next phase in strengthening the sport for the future.

“I would like to thank UK Sport, Sport England and everyone who took part in the review for the important role they played in setting new standards for the future. I look forward to continuing to work towards our common goal of a robust, diverse and fair sports sector.” Sport governing bodies will have to sign up to ‘diversity action plans’ but not boardroom targets

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