Diversity reporting set to be mandatory from next season - Bullingham

ENGLISH football has agreed ‘in principle’ to make reporting of diversity data compulsory from the start of the 2024/25 season, according to Football Association CEO Mark Bullingham.

The Football Leadership Diversity Code was published last week for the third year and, again, clubs failed to meet any of the diversity targets they had agreed.

These were the targets, alongside the actual figures that were reported by the clubs for the period between August 1st 2022 and July 31st 2023:

  • Senior leadership: Target = 15% of new hires from a black, Asian or of mixed heritage background; actual = 9.1%. Target = 30% of new hires to be female; actual = 23%.
  • Team operations: Target = 15% of new hires from a black, Asian or of mixed heritage background; actual = 11.2%. Target = 30% of new hires to be female; actual = 29.9%.
  • Coaching (men’s): 25% of new hires from a black, Asian or of mixed heritage background; actual = 16%.
  • Senior coaching hires (men's): Target = 10% of new hires from a black, Asian or of mixed heritage background; actual = 8.9%.
  • Coaching (women’s): Target = 50% of new hires to be female; actual = 41.6%. Target 2 = 15% of new hires black, Asian or of mixed heritage background; actual = 8.3%.
  • Shortlists for interview having at least one male and one female candidate of black, Asian or of mixed heritage, provided applicants meeting the job specifications apply.

Some clubs did perform well, with Fulham (snapshot below), Walsall and West Bromwich Albion achieving every one of these targets. And, for a second year, the FA, Football League and Premier League achieved all of the agreed goals.

However, heavyweights Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Newcastle United were among the clubs not to hit a single target. And Birmingham City (snapshot below), Leeds United and Portsmouth scored 0% in each of the categories that applied to them.

Bullingham admitted the data had shown “slower progress than hoped”. He added that football was aiming to make it a mandatory requirement for all clubs to publish their diversity data in future. Only 51 clubs in the Football League and Premier League (representing 55.4% of the total) have signed up to the Code.

And some that did, failed to file a full set of data. Birmingham City, for example, did not collect data about who they had shortlisted for interviews.

Bullingham said: “English football has agreed in principle to make reporting data on age, sex, gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation mandatory for professional clubs,” he said.

“Following discussions with the Premier League, English Football League, Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship, we have proposed an addition to The FA Rule Book which would see clubs publish their workforce data biannually in order to provide full transparency and put football at the top of global industry in its levels of reporting accountability.”

Former Chelsea defender Paul Elliott, who co-founded the Code, agreed: “Now is the time to be bolder. We would urge the Premier League, EFL and all its 92 clubs to make that data transparent.

"But we also need sanctions for non-compliance and future diversity targets baked into FA, Premier League and EFL rules. Without that commitment, we won't know the true scale of the challenge nor be able to find solutions to make football more representative of the people who love the game."

Tony Burnett, the Chief Executive of Kick It Out, said this was critical to increasing diversity in future.

“Based on 20 years working in EDI (equality, diversion and inclusion) across financial services, policing and vehicle manufacturing, I’ve learned many lessons but there are two key drivers to reform,” he wrote in The Guardian.

“First, a systemic approach is the only route to making that change last, and, second, data and targets are essential to engineer that change. In short, football must be bold. It must be courageous. It must also drop its arrogance in thinking it knows better than other industries that have made this commitment.

“Otherwise, we will be here in another three, five or 10 years discussing why there are so few black managers in the professional game, or so few professional players from a south Asian background, or so few women in boardrooms.

“That is why the FA’s intention to make reporting diversity data mandatory for all clubs is a step in the right direction. There are still some tough conversations to be had, however.”

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