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Funding to Increase Diversity in Leadership Roles

Lottery and Exchequer money will aim to provide 140 'board ready' candidates by 2021.

Sport England chief executive Jennie Price speaks to another woman at an innovation event
Up to £400,000 is being invested by us to increase diversity in sports leadership roles by 2021.

New training, networking, mentoring, deployment support and online activities will be provided to potential candidates, with expressions of interest now being invited from formally constituted organisations to the fund that hopes to provide a list of at least 50 ‘board ready’ diverse candidates to apply for leadership positions by the end of March.

A further 30 candidates are to be targeted by October 2019, another 30 by March 2020 and the final 30 by December 2020.

“Our Towards an Active Nation strategy highlights the importance of increased diversity in leadership as a way of representing the communities we wish to engage in sport and physical activity,” said Phil Smith, our director of sport. 

“If you have more people with different experiences and perspectives on boards, the leadership is better equipped to make decisions which will not only benefit the organisation but also the customers they wish to serve.”

Annual audits on the diversity profile of the boards of national governing bodies (NGBs) of sport and senior management teams illustrate that there is a significant lack of diversity.

With 2016 figures showing only 26 of 601 board positions (4%) are filled with representatives from BAME communities.

Of 68 organisations that responded to the audit, only one had a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME chief) executive and only one had a BAME chair.

This funding will provide those who are least likely to fulfil board leadership roles due to their ethnicity, faith, gender or cultural and socio-economic background with specific support so that they feel able to apply for these positions in the future.

“We have put in place training, support and guidance, and this opportunity is the next step as we help the boards of our funded partners to be more welcoming and accessible to all groups in society,” added Cathy Hughes, our head of equality and diversity.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our work to drive changes within the sector that will improve the engagement of everyone, regardless of age, background or level of ability.”

This funding comes after we and UK Sport launched A Code for Sports Governance, which stated that organisations in receipt of public funding from the sports councils, and signed up to the code, shall:

  • Adopt a target of, and take all appropriate actions to encourage a minimum of 30% of each gender on its board
  • Demonstrate a strong and public commitment to progressing towards achieving gender parity and greater diversity generally on its board including, but not limited to BAME, and disability.

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