FA launch new code to tackle racial imbalance in English football

The Football Association have launched the Football Leadership Diversity Code to drive diversity and inclusion across English football.

Over 40 clubs across the Premier League, English Football League, Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have signed up to the code – including all six of London’s top-flight sides.

The new code has been developed in collaboration with club executives, players, coaches, HR directors, media and leaders across the game to ensure English football better represents modern and diverse society.

The code focuses on increasing equality of opportunity with hiring targets – rather than quotas – to encourage recruitment from across society. Hiring will be based on merit, to find the best person for the job from diverse talent pipelines.

The aim is to move away from recruitment practices focused on personal networks, which is a longstanding challenge across football and has limited the diversity in leadership across the game.

By signing up to the Football Leadership Diversity Code, clubs pledge to create an equality, diversity and inclusion plan which applies hiring targets while adopting specific recruitment principles.

The targets, which will become effective immediately, include: 15 per cent of new hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage [or a target set by the club based on local demographics] and 30 per cent of new hires will be female in senior leadership and team operations roles.

In coaching, for men’s professional clubs: 25 per cent of new hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage. Furthermore, 10 per cent of new senior coaching hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage.

For coaching in the women’s professional game: 50 per cent of new hires will be female and 15 per cent of new hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage.

In terms of recruitment, shortlists for interview will have at least one male and one female Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage candidate, if applicants meeting the job specifications apply.

The code is viewed as a starting point towards greater diversity and, while focusing on gender and ethnicity now in reflection of the current player base, it will expand more broadly over time.

Paul Elliott, Chair of The FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, said: “Many clubs are already doing good work in this area and we have been pleased to see football stand together this year to challenge the injustice we are seeing in society.

“However, positive and tangible action is required to drive change and take the next step. We believe the introduction of the Football Leadership Diversity Code will signal a long-term change for the English game.

“The number and stature of clubs that have already agreed to join us on this journey proves that together, with clear goals, transparency and a desire for action, we can shape a better future together. We hope more clubs join us as we move forward.”

While not mandatory, The FA is encouraging all clubs across the men’s and women’s games to sign up to the voluntary Code, with a version following the same principles and adapted for the National League System and grassroots clubs to follow in Spring 2021.

Mark Bullingham, The FA’s Chief Executive Officer, added: “I would like to thank the players, coaches, HR Directors, media and league and club officials from across football who have contributed to the development of the Code.

“Together we have created commitments that will drive real change across the game. The Code will hold clubs, leagues and our own organisation to account and ensure opportunities for everyone to work at all levels in football.

“We remain deeply committed to doing everything we can to address inequality in all its forms and to deliver a game free from discrimination. Today is a really positive step forward.”

Clubs that will adopt the Football Leadership Diversity Code as founding signatories are:

  • Arsenal
  • Aston Villa
  • Blackburn Rovers
  • Bolton Wanderers
  • Brighton & Hove Albion
  • Brentford
  • Burnley
  • Burton Albion
  • Cambridge United
  • Chelsea
  • Coventry City
  • Coventry United
  • Crystal Palace
  • Derby
  • Durham Women
  • England
  • Everton
  • Fleetwood Town
  • Fulham
  • Ipswich Town
  • Leeds United
  • Leicester City
  • Lewes
  • Lincoln City
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester City
  • Manchester United
  • Newcastle United
  • Norwich City
  • Nottingham Forest
  • Oxford United
  • Plymouth Argyle
  • Portsmouth
  • QPR
  • Sheffield United
  • Stoke City
  • Swansea City
  • Tottenham
  • Watford
  • West Ham
  • West Brom
  • Wolves

(Where applicable, this includes both the professional men’s and professional women’s structure for each club.)

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