Diversity code launched by FA to increase BAME and female representation

It is now a requirement for football clubs to meet a recruitment diversity target of 15% in all new executive jobs. Additionally, they must meet the 25% target in coaching roles under a code which has been set out by the Football Association.

The aim of the Diversity Code is to tackle racial inequality in football in the UK. It is also designed to increase the number of female coaches in women’s football.

Head of the FA’s inclusion advisory board Paul Elliot said that the code is designed to ‘hold football to account.’

At the moment there are only 5 BAME managers or head coaches among the 92 Premier League and English Football Leagues.

Of the 20 Premier League Clubs, 19 have so far agreed to the voluntary code, the only exception being Southampton.

A spokesperson from the Saints stated that while they are ‘wholly supportive’ of the objectives of the code, they will wait to see how it compares to the Premier League’s own Advanced Equality Standard before they change or adapt their recruitment process.

Southampton said that their own process is a culmination of a 5-year long journey towards equality and diversity.

The clubs who have so far signed up include some from the EFL, Women’s Championship and the Women’s Super League.

By signing, the clubs agree that:

§ 15% of new executive appointments will be from a BAME background, with 30% female.

§ 25% of new coaching appointments will be BAME and 10% of senior coaching appointments.

§ 50% of new coaching appointments at women's football clubs will be female, with 15% BAME.

§ Shortlists for interview will have at least one male and one female BAME candidate, provided applicants meeting the job specifications apply.

Iffy Onuora, PFA equities coach stated that the target of 15% in all new executive positions and the 25% increase in coaching positions would be a ‘massive step forward’ from where the sport is right now.

Onuora said that he had only one reservation, namely the question about what stops other teams from signing up to the code.

It is far better, said Onuora, to start as you mean to go on, and have everyone on board. As we go forward, we can take the good points and good aspects, while discarding the bad ones.

Another person who supports the code is former Chelsea and Aston Villa defender Elliot. He helped to develop the code and said that they wanted to create ‘greater diversity in leadership positions.’

Football needs to be modernized so that the sport stops relying on the ‘little black book’ and starts to give equal opportunities to people who are qualified for them.

‘It is not about tokenism. It is all about equal opportunities.’

Elliot quoted an example of Jermain Defoe who has had a wonderful career. He has thoughts about becoming a coach but questions whether becoming qualified is worth it as he does not think he will ever get a job.

The code took five months to finalize. Elliot spoke to many people who are leaders in both men and women’s games to ensure the code is as inclusive as possible. These included Harry Kane, Tyrone Mings, and Lucy Bronze.

The clubs who have signed will need to publish diversity data every year to show that they have met the requirements. Should they not meet the requirements, they need to give reasons why.

Once the details and the economic benefits are seen, Elliot is confident that other clubs will sign up. People will not only see the social and human side of the code, but also the economic benefits of a diverse workforce.

Elliot concluded by saying that football clubs are businesses and need to be representative of both the player base and the fan base.

"Football owns this code, this is for the whole of football, so it was important our consultation reflected that."


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