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FA launches new code to boost diversity in football jobs

The initiative is voluntary but so far 42 clubs have signed up.

The Football Association has launched a new diversity code which aims to ensure more candidates from ethnic minorities can land top jobs.

The Football Leadership Diversity Code will ask clubs to hit targets in coaching positions as well as senior management roles.

The code is voluntary but so far 42 clubs from across the Premier League, English Football League, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship have signed up.

Former Chelsea and Celtic defender Paul Elliott, head of the FA’s inclusion advisory board, believes the new code will boost diversity in the game.

He 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.”

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
Paul Elliott helped launch Kick It Out in 1993 (John Stillwell/PA)

Clubs will have to commit to making 15 per cent of new executive positions available to people from minority backgrounds.

There will also be targets for gender diversity with a plan for 30 per cent of new appointments in senior leadership positions to be female candidates.

Women’s football clubs will also have to commit to having 50 per cent of female coaches.

Charlton Athletic v Doncaster Rovers – Sky Bet League One – The Valley
Doncaster manager Darren Moore is one of the few black managers in the top four divisions (Steven Paston/PA)

At men’s professional clubs 25 per cent of new hires will be black, Asian or of mixed heritage.

Shortlists for interview will need to have at least one male and one female black, Asian or of mixed-heritage candidate, if applicants meeting the job specifications apply.

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

Southampton were the only Premier League club missing from the initial list of those signing up to the code, explaining their stance in a statement released to the PA news agency.

“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,” it read.

Southampton are the only Premier League club who have not signed up to the new diversity code.
Southampton are the only Premier League club who have not signed up to the new diversity code. (Mike Hewitt/PA)

“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.”

The Premier League offered its full backing to the new code and said it was already adhering to its guidelines.

A Premier League statement read: “The Premier League supports the introduction of the Football Leadership Diversity Code and is embedding the principles within its ongoing work, including the Premier League Equality Standard programme for clubs.

“The voluntary code complements the significant work the League and its clubs have already undertaken, demonstrating our collective and continued commitment to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion across the game.

“We firmly believe there should be no barrier to entry or opportunity in any area of football.

“Working alongside our colleagues at the FA, EFL, PGMOL, PFA, LMA and Kick It Out we will continue to improve policy and practices to tackle underrepresentation with the aim of creating sustained and long-term change.”

Campaign group Kick It Out also welcomed the FA’s initiative and said it would be closely monitoring football’s progress in meeting its targets.

Kick It Out chair Sanjay Bhandari said: “At Kick It Out, we will be asking fans and sponsors to encourage their clubs to sign up to the Code. We will be seeking to provide the reporting transparency that tracks how football is progressing against these targets in the coming years.

“We will also work with the industry to ensure that the diverse pipeline of talent is better connected to opportunities.

“We know that talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not. We need to correct that imbalance.”


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