The England and Wales Cricket Board announced plans to mandate black, Asian and minority ethnic inclusion at boardroom level across the game on the same day Eni Aluko, in evidence to MPs, called on football to do the same.
Arguing cricket had some “very difficult truths to face” about its lack of engagement with the African-Caribbean community, the ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison, said the ECB board, the first-class counties and county boards would be expected to introduce targets to increase ethnic diversity as soon as possible.
Currently 4% of those in governance roles within cricket are black or Asian. While the ECB has not put a number on its targets, Harrison said the sport would subscribe to the Sport England code of governance, which is about to undergo a review and is expected to define such targets. While counties will be able to set figures that reflect their population, Harrison said there would have to be a good reason for counties not to have BAME representation.
“We have made strong strides in many areas to become a more inclusive and diverse sport but we realise there is a great deal more to do,” he said.
He pointed to the ECB’s “Inspiring Generations” strategy and the creation of the Hundred as reflecting a recognition that cricket had to reach new audiences. Asked if he regretted cricket losing a link with the black community, Harrison said: “I just argue whether the link has ever been there in the past. If we talk about understanding the reasons why communities feel disenfranchised, it’s really important to take stock of the situation you’re in. What we’re trying to create at the ECB is an organisation and a game that is inclusive by design.”
Aluko gave evidence to a digital, culture, media and sport select committee inquiry into the health of sport following the Covid-19 pandemic. She said it was time for “intentional change” to increase BAME representation at senior levels of football.
The former England forward, who is now Aston Villa Women’s sporting director, said football had made progress but a glass ceiling remained. “I take heart in the fact we have progressed in terms of representation on the pitch … but there’s still some issues at boardroom level and in senior management,” she said. “When we are looking for the best talent are we fishing in a wide enough pool or doing what we’ve always done? People that we all know and all look like us?”
Asked if quotas for BAME board members should be considered, she said: “At this point we have to. There has to be something intentional about change. When you rely on self-regulation and people doing it themselves, they tend to just fall back into a comfort zone of what they’ve always done. We do need a target.”