Diversity: Government calls for review of governance code – BBC News

Nigel Huddleston has been sports minister since February

Sports governing bodies could be given diversity targets for their boards, after the sports minister committed to “review” the current system and “set new expectations”.

Nigel Huddleston MP said the time was “absolutely right” to revisit the Sports Governance Code, which applies to all funded sports bodies.

Research by UK Sport and Sport England last year found that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people accounted for just 5.2% of board members across their 130 funded organisations.

However, across the major domestic sports there is just one black board member, Anne Wafula Strike, from UK Athletics.

There is currently only a target for gender equality in the code, of a minimum 30% of each gender, while for ethnic diversity, organisations must show a “strong and public commitment” to progressing.

According to the 2011 Census, 86.0% of the population of England and Wales was white, 7.5% Asian, 3.3% black, 2.2% Mixed and 1.0% from other ethnic groups.

The scope of the upcoming review, which UK Sport and Sport England said they were “very open to”, has not yet been decided but a range of options will be explored.

Mr Huddleston said: “I am committed to working with sports to ensure opportunities to progress are open to all, from athletes to administrators, to board members.

“The time is absolutely right to review the Sports Governance Code, and set new expectations. I will be working with UK Sport and Sport England to ensure the sport sector leads by example.”

Paul Elliott, chairman of the Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board, described the lack of senior black figures in football as “utterly unacceptable” earlier this week.

And, also earlier this week, Sport England board member Chris Grant asked for a commission to be formed to explore the “roots of inequality in sport”.

Sanjay Bhandari, the chairman of football’s anti-racism watchdog Kick It Out, added: “It is time to set and track targets for ethnic representation.

“You cannot be what you cannot see. If we cannot see people like us in boardrooms, why would we think that’s a route available to us?”

Analysis

There has been significant pressure over the last few days for improvements to be made in the ethnic diversity of boardrooms across sports, and the Government’s intervention has been widely welcomed.

UK Sport and Sport England took the step of hiring a headhunting firm last year, to improve the pool of board-ready candidates from a diverse background.

Although several of those have since taken up senior positions, there are still several major sports without black board members.

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