FA expands diversity code and reveals first year’s successes and failures

A specially adapted version of the Football Association’s leadership diversity code (FLDC) is being introduced throughout the women’s pyramid, the National League and the grassroots game.

Launched across the men’s and women’s professional divisions last year, the voluntary charter commits clubs to achieving certain standards, including ensuring that 15% of recruits in senior leadership roles will be black, Asian or of mixed heritage and 30% female. The FA is also committed to people with disabilities representing 10% of its workforce by 2024. By widening the talent pool, it hopes to make football fairer and increasingly meritocratic.

In the wake of the initiative’s expansion, 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.”

Thirteen months on from its launch, the FLDC has more than 50 signatories from the top tiers of the men’s and women’s game, including every Premier League club. To support the code, the FA has created a central platform advertising job vacancies with the intention of helping football employers reach a larger and more diverse selection of candidates.

Since its inception 900 vacancies have been posted, attracting 4,600 applications, with 39% of performance role applications coming from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds.

Figures from 1 September 2020 to 31 August 2021 for clubs signed up to the code show targets were hit in only two of eight areas: that in senior leadership 15% of new hires (or a target set by a club based on local demographics) will be black, Asian or of mixed heritage, and that among men’s clubs 10% of senior coaching recruits will be black, Asian or of mixed heritage.

Figures were described as “close to target” in four areas relating to team operations and coaching, and the target was more widely missed in two: that 30% of senior leadership hires should be women (19.8%) and 50% of new coaching hires at women’s clubs female (43.8%).

The Premier League and EFL hit all their targets and the FA missed one: for 15% of new hires in women’s coaching to be black, Asian or of mixed heritage, with figures for that shown as 0%.

Edleen John, the FA’s equality, diversity and inclusion director, said: “The commitment shown towards the FLDC shows 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 continue to encourage more clubs to sign up to the code.”