The lack of black representatives on major UK sports’ boards is “shocking” and “appalling” – says British wheelchair racer Anne Wafula Strike.
Wafula Strike is the only black board member among major sports in the UK – representing UK Athletics.
“When you don’t see anybody who’s representing you or somebody of your version, you sort of start to ask yourselves ‘are we so irrelevant?’
“Black people are not irrelevant,” she told BBC Sport.
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 the 130 sport organisations they fund.
“We need to lead by example. We need to have people who can be good mentors in our life, that the young black people when they are growing up can look up to and aspire to be like,” Wafula Strike added.
“I am still the only black person on these big boards. It just goes to show that the leadership isn’t doing what they are supposed to do. Or is the leadership biased?
“We need to start asking ourselves those questions. And if the leadership is biased, then what does that tell us about our community?”
On Thursday, the government said there will be a review of the Sports Governance Code and a commitment to “set new expectations”.
Wafula Strike says these reviews should not just set targets but should “bring black people on board and give them a voice”.
“Otherwise we will end up with so many black people sitting on boards but with silent voices and then it ends up being a tick-a-box exercise,” she added.
“I am fortunate because UK Athletics at the moment are doing the right thing. We are already having very serious conversations. We cannot shy away from this.”
But the 51-year-old says “many sporting families are failing” and “the sooner sporting bodies address this the better”.
“We have people who have worn the kit for Great Britain, they have won medals for us. Do we want to say that their medals are less important just because of the colour of their skin?
“Because if we are closing them out of these big boardrooms then it is a reflection of what we think about these people.”