By Isabelle Boulert, Josh Emerson and Grant Jarvie
University of Edinburgh
Scotland could do more to end all white boards in sport.
• An audit of Scottish sports boards (N=82) carried out between 2017-2018
• Composition of Scottish sports boards 99.5% white and 0.5% people of colour
• Availability of Board data – 10% no data.
• Chairs of Scottish Sports Boards 100% white and 0% people of colour
• 3 people of colour as board members out of 558 board members
The research findings presented acknowledges that the use of all encompassing terms to explain diversity in Scotland hides the richness of diversity in Scotland today.
That being said the findings from the review of Scottish sports boards evidences for the first time the fact that people of colour are under-represented in the decision making roles in sport in Scotland.
There is not just a social and political imperative for Scottish sports boards to be more representative of Scottish communities but a substantial body of evidence demonstrates that having diverse boards boosts recruitment, retention and productivity while reducing risk.
Nor is the lack of diversity on Scottish sports boards an issue that is unique to Scotland or sport. The 2017 Parker Review of Ethnicity and Diversity on UK Boards reported that only 2 per cent of all FTSE 100 board directors are UK citizens of colour, while the non-white population was 14 per cent and set to rise 20 per cent by 2030.
Only six people of colour held the position of Chair or Chief Executive while 51 of the FTSE 100 companies did not have any non-white people on Board.
Increasing participation and representation from under-represented groups in sport remains an urgent and complex issue that permeates the sports system. While there are many examples of remarkable initiatives enabling equality and diversity in and through sport there remains many areas where progress has to be made and where a co-ordinated and collaborative approach could lead to significant improvements.
Scotland’s diverse and ageing population has much to offer sport. From volunteers and coaches to being Board members, there are people with a wealth of knowledge and experience to be passed on to the next generation and the notion of their not be enough capable and qualified non-white applicants needs to be rejected.
Leadership in Scottish Sport needs to be much more innovative and pro-active to ensure it is representative and reflective of Scottish people and communities.
Leadership positions and boards in Scottish Sport are almost entirely white. The cost of accessing sport and facilities remains a significant barrier with sport being available to those from wealthier backgrounds. Many sports still have a gender imbalance while recognising that much progress has been made. The disability sports voice needs to be represented more.
Successful societies are inclusive societies and sport can act as a way to help bring communities together, if it becomes more inclusive at all levels.
The evidence does not discount the steps that have been accomplished to advance equality and reduce inequality gaps in Scottish sport but it does suggest that when Scottish sport boards tend to recruit to leadership positions this tends to result in, primarily if not exclusively in many cases, all white Scottish sports boards.