Sport England and UK Sport revamp governance code

Sport England and UK Sport have revamped the Code for Sports Governance to drive diversity across their respective boards and senior leadership teams, following recommendations from the government on the back of a review of the existing policy.

Launched in 2016, the code has been applied to over 4,000 organisations that receive government or National Lottery funding. However, the aforementioned organisations could forfeit the financial backing, should a ‘sustained lack of commitment or progress’ be evident, which would be considered ‘non-compliant’.

Last week, The Telegraph reported as part of its investigation that there was a ‘shocking dearth of black people in positions of real power’ across the largest national governing bodies, placing the UK government ‘under pressure’.

Other organisations will also be required to agree an ‘ambitious and robust’ Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan with Sport England and UK Sport.

The original code established a clear requirement for funded bodies to drive greater diversity on their boards, helping female representation on the boards of partners complying with the code rise to 44%.

Sport England and Sport UK noted that numbers have also risen in relation to representation from people from Black, Asian and other ethnically diverse backgrounds, and from those with a declared disability.

However, the review highlighted the need for organisations working in sport and physical activity to do more and go further in considering how they can best reflect society as a whole, across a wider range of protected characteristics as well as regional and socio-economic factors.  

“We are incredibly proud of the impact the Code for Sports Governance has had since 2016, and the way it has been adopted as a vehicle for meaningful and positive change,” explained Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England Chief Executive. “The changes announced today build on this momentum.

“We are confident that the new requirements – and the focus in particular on the impact of ambitious Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans – will be welcomed and embraced.

“It is a further step towards greater diversity of background, experience and understanding of sport and activity environments having a seat at the table at the very top of sporting organisations.”

Organisations will be supported to set benchmarks if relevant in specific areas and will be expected to publish their first plans by the end of summer 2022, with ‘meaningful progress’ made within two years.

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