The Football Association [The FA] has today launched a version of the Football Leadership Diversity Code tailored for the National League System, Women’s pyramid and grassroots football, aiming to tackle inequality and improve representation of diverse groups across senior leadership positions, wider team operations and coaching roles.
The Football Leadership Diversity Code has been developed in collaboration with club leaders, community football representatives, County FA chief executives and others across the game to ensure English football at all levels better represents our modern and diverse society. Recognising that off the pitch, club administration and support structures do not currently reflect the increasing diversity that we see on the pitch, the Code will increase accountability and transparency. Its aim is for clubs across the non-elite game to commit to being leaders in football diversity, ensuring they promote and deliver the highest standards of inclusion across their clubs.
This expansion into the wider football pyramid marks one year since the launch of the Football Leadership Diversity Code for the elite game, for which a progress update can be found below.
The Code focuses on increasing equality of opportunity by encouraging the selection of leaders and coaches based on merit from a significantly wider pool of diverse talent. At the heart of the Code is the desire to change culture within club environments to be holistically inclusive with realistic commitments, recognising the unique challenges that are presented to clubs operating at these levels of the English game, who have primarily volunteer-based workforces. This means ensuring club culture encourages people from all backgrounds to be part of football in their local communities, both as participants and in roles off the pitch. The FA is encouraging all clubs to sign up to the Code as it will form part of the minimum requirements for England Football-accredited status each season.
Club equality policies to be adopted by all club members, players and officials remain a requirement, while signatories of the Code will adhere to the following five commitments, effective immediately:
• Club leadership: Our club’s leadership should reflect the diversity of our local community
• Coaching and selection: Ensuring diversity within our volunteer coaching workforce
• Culture: Continuing to strive for the most inclusive club culture
• Reporting discrimination: Encouraging the reporting of discrimination
• Raising awareness: Raising awareness on the topic of equality, diversity and inclusion
Clubs will be able to adopt the Football Leadership Diversity Code and apply for accreditation via Platform For Football, and those across the National League System and Women’s pyramid will go beyond the foundations of this Code as they progress towards the higher levels of the game.
In the coming months, The FA will provide online training and education sessions to drive best practice for signatory clubs on equality, diversity and inclusion, recruitment, coaching diversity, reporting discrimination, and youth football.
James Kendall, The FA’s Director of Football Development, said: "We are deeply committed to ensuring English football thrives at all levels of the game and this is an important development in our efforts to achieve that. We believe the Code will significantly change football for the better, particularly in local communities where the game plays a crucial part in people’s lives. It will ensure clubs reap the rewards of greater engagement and collaboration with the communities they serve. We want positive, inclusive cultures to be at the heart of everything we do, and only by working together with clubs and leagues can we achieve true equality across the English game."
ONE-YEAR PROGRESS UPDATE: FOOTBALL LEADERSHIP DIVERSITY CODE - ELITE GAME
The Football Leadership Diversity Code for the elite game launched in October 2020 and now has over 50 signatories across the top tiers of the men’s and women’s game, which as of October 2021, includes all Premier League clubs, as well as The FA, Premier League, EFL, and seven recruitment partners.
The FA will report on progress annually, with the key highlights and data from signatories in the reporting period of 1 September 2020 to 31 August 2021 outlined below. While the Code launched during the global pandemic, which led to significantly suppressed recruitment across the game, the collective football results show the focus on recruitment has provided a good foundation to be built on in future. Over the 2020-21 season, football collectively exceeded diversity targets in hiring senior leadership and men’s club senior coaches, while making progress against the targets in other areas.
The full report, including updates from signatory clubs and organisations, can be found here. Recognising that clubs are at different parts of their journey with ranging capabilities, data systems and resources, and to help drive immediate change, the Code specifically focuses on recruitment data rather than overall representation data.
To support the Code, The FA also launched a central careers platform in early 2021 to create greater transparency of roles available across English football, and to help organisations and clubs reach a larger and more diverse audience of candidates. All signatories of the Code can advertise vacancies on the platform and since its launch, 900 vacancies have been posted, with over 4,600 applications. Of these, 39% of performance role applicants were from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background, while 71% of signatories say it has improved the diversity of applicants. The FA continues to proactively encourage individuals who want a role within football to register their profile on the platform for alerts and to search for roles relevant to them on an ongoing basis.
Edleen John, The FA’s Director of International Relations, Corporate Affairs and Co-partner for EDI, said: "The commitment shown towards the Football Leadership Diversity Code shows that there is a strong, collective desire to create long-term change and ensure the representation we see on the pitch is reflected off it. We believe that with clear commitments and transparency, we can shape a better future for English football. We acknowledge that some signatories are new to collecting this type of data, so we must recognise that this is a first step to implementing diversity-focused recruitment targets and driving collective change. This is a positive start in incredibly challenging circumstances and while the progress is promising, it must improve further. Each signatory can play their part and that’s why coming together in this way is powerful.
"While everybody is coming from a different starting point, we can all impact recruitment immediately. We continue to encourage more clubs to sign up to the Code and collectively we will support each other on this important journey. The Code is a first-of-its-kind for our industry and this positive action will ensure we drive meaningful change and tackle inequality at all levels of our game, ensuring opportunities are truly inclusive for all."
More information on the Football Leadership Diversity Code can be found here.
CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE CODE