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Combined action needed to end racism in our sector

Our chief executive, Tim Hollingsworth, made the call during the 'Time for action: Tackling racism in sport' event held in Leicester today

Our chief executive Tim Hollingsworth has called on everyone involved in sport and physical activity to play their part in driving racism out of our sector.

Speaking as part of a panel at the ‘Time for action: Tackling racism in sport’ conference today, our chief executive outlined some of the progress that had been made over the last four years, but admitted there was still much to do to tackle the deep-rooted issues that impact many people’s experiences of playing sport and being physically active.

“As leaders we need to be more vocal on this topic,” he said. “It’s easy to say that we’ve launched an ED&I (equality, diversity and inclusion) strategy, hired the right people and funded the right programmes and think ‘that’s my job done’. But that’s the approach of a boss. A leader cannot stay silent on this issue.

“Sport England has a strong focus on tackling inequalities, but we also need to maintain a direct focus and be much better at talking directly about tackling racism.

“Yes, we can confidently talk about change that we’ve made as an organisation over the last four years, but the change that is now needed, that will make a real difference, concerns the collective work of our sector.

“What is required is a systemic approach and, to enable us to influence that, we need to ensure we’re listening to the right people and have the right people in the room.”

Hundreds of delegates from across the sport and physical activity sector attended the conference, that was run in conjunction with UK Sport and the other Home Nations Sports Councils.

Held at the Mattioli Woods Welford Road stadium, home of the Premiership Rugby team Leicester Tigers, and live streamed for those unable to attend in person, the event brought people together from across the sector to drive forward our anti-racism work.

Building on the successful Tackling Racism and Racial Inequalities in Sport webinar held in October, the event gave delegates the chance to explore in detail three themes that had been identified for discussion:

  • Being bold and acting without fear
  • Gaining buy in from senior leaders and staff
  • Diversifying talent in all areas of our organisations.

Speakers included all five Home Nation Sports Council CEOs, former Sport England board member Chris Grant, Sky Sports News reporter Miriam Walker-Khan and diversity, equity and inclusion campaigner Hayley Bennett.

Attendees also attended a number of workshops focussing on topics including:

  • Breaking barriers: unveiling the individual actions and behaviours of the Active Partnership’s journey to tackling racism
  • Working towards anti-racist leadership in sport
  • Race representation and diversifying talent with the Leaderboard Academy.

What is TRARIIS?

In 2020, the murder of George Floyd was a catalyst for the five sports councils responsible for investing in and growing sport across the UK, to come together to explore racial inequalities in sport and to look at how reflective our sporting system is of UK society.

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