FA launches Football Leadership Diversity Code to boost opportunities for BAME candidates

Melissa Reddy
·3-min read
No Room For Racism patches have been visible on sleeves this season (Getty)
No Room For Racism patches have been visible on sleeves this season (Getty)

The FA has launched the Football Leadership Diversity Code, with over 40 clubs committed to it, as a way to help remedy the lack of inclusion in the game across senior positions, broader team operations and coaching roles.

Developed in collaboration with club executives, players, coaches, HR directors, media and leaders across the sport, it aims to ensure greater gender and ethnic representation, while increasing accountability and transparency.

The code focuses on aiding equality of opportunity with hiring targets – rather than quotas – to encourage recruitment from across society.

The targets, effective immediately, would be as follows:

SENIOR LEADERSHIP AND TEAM OPERATIONS

15% of new hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage [or a target set by the club based on local demographics]

30% of new hires will be female

Nuno Espirito Santo is the only black manager in the Premier LeaguePOOL/AFP
Nuno Espirito Santo is the only black manager in the Premier LeaguePOOL/AFP

COACHING: MEN’S PROFESSIONAL CLUBS

25% of new hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage

10% of new senior coaching hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage

COACHING: WOMEN’S PROFESSIONAL CLUBS

50% of new hires will be female

15% of new hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage

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.

A statement read: “The process 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.

No Room For Racism patches have been visible on sleeves this seasonGetty
No Room For Racism patches have been visible on sleeves this seasonGetty

“It 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.

“The Premier League and multiple clubs from across the Premier League, English Football League, Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have committed to embedding the Code within its own practices. 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.”

The clubs that have adopted the code as founding signatories are below:

Arsenal

Aston Villa

Blackburn Rovers

Bolton Wanderers

Brighton & Hove Albion

Brentford

Burnley

Burton Albion

Cambridge United

Chelsea

Coventry City

Coventry United

Crystal Palace

Derby County

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

Queens Park Rangers

Sheffield United

Stoke City

Swansea City

Tottenham Hotspur

Watford

West Ham United

West Bromwich Albion

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Southampton are a notable absentee from the list of clubs adopting the FA's new Football Leadership Diversity Code, with the club explaining their position as follows:

In 2020 Southampton FC achieved the Premier League’s Advanced Equality Standard at the first time of asking, the only club to have achieved this to date.

This achievement was the culmination of a five year Equality and Diversity journey, which includes setting and monitoring recruitment targets amongst a number of other E&D initiatives forming our action plan.

Southampton FC are wholly supportive of the Football Leadership Diversity code objectives. We are aware that the Premier League are revising their Equality Standard to bring the two closer together. At this time the club consider it most appropriate course of action to wait and understand how a revised Premier League Equality Standard and the Football Leadership Diversity Code will work together and complement each other before revising our recruitment targets and already established processes.

We have had productive and encouraging discussions with Paul Elliott on this topic and will continue to work closely with him on this.