The first index to track race representation across UK sport has led to 43% of national governing bodies being handed the lowest three available grades. A trio of England’s biggest sporting administrators – the Football Association, the England and Wales Cricket Board, and the Rugby Football Union – failed to even take part.
The inaugural Race Representation Index, commissioned by the sport monitoring advisory panel via charity Sporting Equals, was motivated by the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd. It aimed to provide a baseline on racial diversity across the sector, allowing progress to be tracked year on year, and was initially delivered to 52 national governing bodies on a voluntary basis. Two, the FA and the RFU, declined to participate.
The final report, released on Monday, also indicates that the ECB along with the British Basketball Federation, British Swimming and Volleyball England did not even confirm receipt of the RRI paperwork. The deadline for replies had been extended from mid-December until 6 January.
The ECB’s position is particularly notable given its November commitment to “a wide-ranging action plan to tackle racism and promote inclusion and diversity at all levels of the game” amid the fallout from allegations of racism at Yorkshire CCC. It is understood its non-involvement in the RRI was not deliberate and that it will be contacting Sporting Equals regarding future cooperation.
The governing bodies who participated in the RRI saw scores delivered on basis of hiring practices at board, senior management, senior coaching and playing or athletic level before a final grade is produced. A similar approach is already used to track matters of equality in college and professional sport in the US.
Ten out of 35 national governing bodies were awarded an A, B or C grade with 15 in the domain of D, E or F. Incomplete returns were received from British Rowing, England Golf, Badminton England and British Cycling. The three bodies to receive an overall A mark were England Handball, Basketball England and GB Taekwondo. An F was given to British Canoeing and Snowsport England.
Ama Agbeze, who captained England’s netball team to Commonwealth Games gold in 2018, sits on the sport monitoring advisory panel. She said: “While there are successes which should be acknowledged and applauded for best practice there is, as a whole, a long way to go for sport before true racial equality will be felt and achieved.”
The RFU did not respond to a request for comment from the Guardian. A spokesperson for the FA said: “The FA supports the objectives of the Race Representation Index and believes transparency is key to achieving positive change. We have published ethnicity and gender data for our general workforce, leadership team and the national coaching population each year since 2018, with targets and progress outlined within our equality, diversity and inclusion plan, A Game For All.
“We also launched the Football Leadership Diversity Code in 2020, which measures recruitment across the FA, other footballing stakeholders including the Premier League and EFL, and club signatories. This aims to focus on what we currently see on the pitch being reflected off the pitch, with an initial focus on gender and ethnic diversity, and progress reported annually. As we are already providing clarity and transparency about our work in this area, we opted to not additionally take part in this survey.”
Professor Kevin Hylton, a special adviser to the project, said: “The sport monitoring advisory panel and Sporting Equals feel that while the baseline has been established there is still much work needed from the UK sport sector before we can tangibly feel and see a more actively anti-racist and inclusive sector.
“Through the work of the Race Representation Index the tracking of that journey will become transparent for all to see, in addition to allowing for best practice to be shared widely to allow for the cultivation of an inclusive approach to sport and physical activity.”