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FA Diversity Code – Sammy Walker

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What is the FA Diversity Code?

On the 27th October 2020 the Football Association of England launched the FA diversity code which aims to increase BAME and female representation in Football. Football clubs will be required to meet a recruitment diversity target of 15% in new executive jobs and 25% in coaching roles under a code devised by the Football Association.

Proudly wanted to share this breaking news story in the world of sports and share how much this change can mean to the fans, players, coaches and everybody associated in the world of football. This is why we asked Sammy Walker to write up this article who is one of the most knowledgable and brainiest Proudly contributors within the football community.

Sammy Walker has contributed to Proudly previously when she shared her powerful coming out story. We thought Samy would be the perfect person to write about this breaking news story within the football community based on her background as a @FAWNL Premier South Footballer, football blogger and LGBTQ+ advocate. Inside this article Sammy will be expressing her views alongside all the facts you need to know about the FA’s Diversity Code.

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An insight into Sammy

Growing up in semi-rural Buckinghamshire it was perhaps unsurprising that there was a lack of diversity. In fact, I was 14 before I had a team-mate that “didn’t look like me” while playing for my school team in Aylesbury. That team, made up of people from all ethnicities and backgrounds, was arguably the most successful team I have ever been a part of.

In 25 years of playing – I have arguably seen more of the game than most. From small sides games to 11-a-side, and having played in youth leagues, professional academies, men’s football, mixed-gender organisations, and now in the women’s game; the following fact remains: I have only ever been coached or managed by white men. 

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FA inclusion, anti-discrimination and diversity campaigns

In 2014, the FA launched an inclusion and anti-discrimination plan, and 4 years later proudly announced that it was now made up of 37% female staff, and 13% of employees were from BAME backgrounds. The next chapter is now upon us as it recently launched its new ‘Football Leadership Diversity Code‘ to drive inclusion and diversity across English football. 

On the day the code was announced, Mark Bullingham, FA CEO, added:

“I would like to thank the players, coaches, HR directors, media, league and club officials from across football who have contributed to the development of the Code. Together we have created commitments that will drive real change across the game. The Code will hold clubs, leagues and our own organisation to account and ensure opportunities for everyone to work at all levels in football. We remain deeply committed to doing everything we can to address inequality in all its forms and to deliver a game free from discrimination. Today is a really positive step forward.”

– Mark Bullingham, FA CEO


It has been well received by the footballing community, with over 40 clubs from the top 2 flights of both the Men’s and Women’s game signing up to level the playing field across senior leadership positions, club operations and coaching roles.

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The FA Diversity Code aims for the following:

SENIOR LEADERSHIP AND TEAM OPERATIONS

15% of new hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage [or a target set by the club based on local demographics]

30% of new hires will be female

COACHING: MEN’S PROFESSIONAL CLUBS

25% of new hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage

10% of new senior coaching hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage

COACHING: WOMEN’S PROFESSIONAL CLUBS

50% of new hires will be female

15% of new hires will be Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage

RECRUITMENT

Shortlists for interview will have at least one male and one female Black, Asian or of Mixed-Heritage candidate, if applicants meeting the job specifications apply.

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Reaction and perception


The need for, and active pursuit of, diversity has often been downplayed by critics as the work of “woke culture” or as an unnecessary addition to modern life. However, the English Football Association disagrees with this sentiment and has promised to make football, as a sport and as an industry, more representative of the people that are part of it.


‘The Code’ focuses on increasing equal opportunity in hiring people based on merit to find the best person for the job from diverse talent pipelines, rather than just meeting quotas. In the past recruitment practices have been largely led by “in-house” referrals and preference, which has limited the diversity in leadership across the sport.


The FA stated on its website that:

“(The Code) is viewed as a starting point towards greater diversity and, while focusing on gender and ethnicity now in reflection of the current player base, it will expand more broadly over time.”

– The FA discussing the Football Leadership Diversity Code

Chair of the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, Paul Elliot said:

“Many clubs are already doing good work in this area and we’ve 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. We hope more clubs join us as we move forward.”

– Chair of the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, Paul Elliot
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Sammy’s views for change

It sounds great on paper; the only slightly disappointing part of the proposed code is the lack of provision for women’s coaches in the men’s game. I would have liked to see those barriers being broken down too – although maybe the footballing world isn’t ready for that just yet!

I speak independently on a variety of issues, as well as part of the team at The Diversity Trust on the importance and benefits of diverse inclusivity in society, business, education and sport. In doing so I have learnt that the importance of diversity is often overlooked and misunderstood. The point of all of this is this: if you only accept people from a singular demographic then you are, almost definitely, missing out on world-class talent. This goes for every activity and industry on the planet – not just football.

Picture credits: Mark Bullingham (from the FA Website) Football players (premier league website)

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An Article by Sammy Walker

Sammy Walker is a talented Writer, Media Contributor and Footballer based in the South-West of England. Sammy is a passionate about Sport, Education, Inclusion and Diversity. She/Her. 


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