We have today published our new three-year equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, which will run until 2024 and forms an integral part of our long-term commitment to using our influence across English football to create a game free from discrimination.
A Game For All outlines three key strategic commitments – Lead the Change, Be the Change, and Inspire the Change – which will ensure tackling discrimination remains a core priority for English football for years to come.
It follows the success of our previous equality, diversity and inclusion strategy, In Pursuit of Progress, by continuing to focus on tangible action and working collaboratively across the game to ensure it is a safe and enjoyable environment for all.
Our commitment to Lead the Change will see us continue to actively tackle discrimination on and off the pitch through delivering effective sanctioning and education, furthering efforts to tackle online abuse, creating safe venues, and building trust in reporting mechanisms and disciplinary processes for incidents of discrimination.
Be the Change focuses on building a diverse workforce through education, development and inclusive leadership. Codes designed to drive and promote inclusion across the game, such as the Football Leadership Diversity Code and County FA Code of Governance, remain a priority as we focus on playing our part in ensuring English football is more representative of our country’s rich diversity. While setting targets to increase diversity across its workforce, the organisation will also prioritise improving disability representation and increasing the ethnic diversity of the England women’s coaching team.
Inspire the Change will see us use our influence to positively impact every aspect of the game, including delivering core diversity programmes for historically underrepresented communities across the areas of gender, ethnicity, disability, faith and sexual orientation. It will also continue to focus on providing career opportunities and addressing underrepresentation through positive action initiatives such as the Elite Coach Placement Programme, while growing the grassroots game to be more representative of modern society at all levels, including those in senior roles off the pitch.
Edleen John, our Director of International Relations, Corporate Affairs and Co-Partner for EDI, said: "Tackling discrimination is not a new priority for the FA and we’ve made great strides in this area in recent years.
"It’s core to our thinking as an organisation and we remain truly committed to using our influence to create a game free from discrimination. We want to continue to partner with stakeholders across English football to unite behind a common purpose, because we know that no one organisation can do it alone.
"We want to break down any historical barriers within football and we know there’s a huge opportunity to drive real change when work across the game is united. We firmly believe that everybody has the right to play the game with confidence and without prejudice, regardless of personal characteristics, and this strategy will play a crucial role in helping us to deliver our longer-term commitment of creating a game for all."
Rachel Brace, HR Director and Co-Partner for EDI, added: "Since we launched In Pursuit of Progress, we’ve been clear that our commitments start with ourselves, and we’re proud of the real progress made over the past three years.
"It was a game-changing strategy for our organisation, which has given us a strong foundation to build on as we strive to ensure that the FA is a welcoming environment where everybody can belong.
"While there is good progress, we also better understand the challenges, and over the next three years we remain committed to developing an organisation that better represents society today and the communities we serve. I’d also like to thank our partners, clubs, supporters, and participants across the game, as only by working together can we drive meaningful change. We look forward to further collaboration over the coming years as we all have a role to play in promoting equality and tackling injustice."
Running from 2018-2021, the In Pursuit of Progress strategy set clear and ambitious targets to drive meaningful change within the organisation and across the game, focusing on initiatives to promote equality and increase the diversity of those playing, officiating, coaching, leading and governing English football.
Successful highlights from the three-year strategy include:
• Creation of the Football Leadership Diversity Code: With over 50 professional clubs signed up, aiming to improve transparency in recruitment across the game and increase ethnic and gender representation across senior leadership, team operations and coaching
• Diversity and pay gap: Increased ethnic and gender diversity amongst FA leadership, while reducing the gender pay gap and voluntarily publishing the ethnicity pay gap
• County FAs: Introduction of an industry-first regional Code of Governance, with provisions for gender and ethnic diversity and youth representation
• Elite Coach Placement Programme: Expansion into the women’s game, while exceeding ethnicity and gender targets set for England coaching staff
• Mental health: The launch of Heads Up, harnessing the influence of football to change the conversation on mental health, culminating in the 2020 Heads Up FA Cup Final, while making resources such as Headspace available to all FA employees
• Asian Inclusion: Launch of the refreshed Asian Inclusion Plan, Bringing Opportunities to Communities, aiming to grow Asian participation on and off the pitch
• LGBT community engagement: The FA marching at Pride in London for the first time, while delivering role model and allyship programmes in partnership with Stonewall
• Training: Unconscious bias training delivered to FA leadership and made available for all FA employees
• Online discriminatory abuse: Continued lobbying of government on the Online Safety Bill, as well as consistently urging social media companies to act faster to tackle hate on their platforms, having led English football’s social media boycott.