- The Football Leadership Diversity Code Year 3 report confirms progress made by The FA, Premier League and EFL to meet targets – however clubs collectively did not meet their hiring targets
- Hiring rates in clubs across the English professional game are only marginally higher than the workforce diversity itself, meaning the pace of change is slow
- The FA Board has agreed in principle to create a new FA Rule to make it mandatory for all professional clubs in English leagues to report full data on age, sex, gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation within their organisations from the start of the 2024/25 season
The Football Association [The FA] has today published the third annual report on the Football Leadership Diversity Code, of which Coventry City are a signatory.
The Code was first introduced to the English professional game in 2020 as an intervention to encourage football to collectively tackle inequality across senior leadership positions, broader team operations and coaching roles. This year, for the first time, participating clubs provided their actual workforce data, including LGBTQ+ and disability data, which provides a much clearer picture of the diversity of the professional game.
All participating clubs provided recruitment data based on the hiring targets set by the Code. Across signatory clubs last season, 9% of senior leaders, 11% of team operations, 16% of coaches and 9% of senior coaches hired were Black, Asian or Mixed Heritage, whilst 23% of senior leaders and 30% of team operations hired were female.
Within the 53 club signatories, 21% of senior leaders and 29% of team operations are female and 7% of senior leaders and 9% of team operations are Black, Asian or Mixed Heritage. Across the coaching workforce, 13% of coaches and 11% of senior coaches are Black, Asian or Mixed Heritage.
The full 2022/23 report for the Football Leadership Diversity Code can be found here.
Progress is being made in some areas, however the workforce across the professional game in England is falling short of reflecting the levels of diversity amongst the playing population – and the hiring rates are currently not high enough to drive the rapid change needed. Whilst some sections of the data do not meet the requirements of the Code, there are also clubs who are outperforming their targets and are driving real change, led by their senior leadership.
The English football authorities, including The FA, Premier League and EFL, all met their targets this year – with hiring rates exceeding workforce diversity targets across the organisations. This includes The FA meeting the hiring targets for men’s coaches in every year of the Code, resulting in 29% of coaches being Black, Asian or Mixed Heritage across all England teams.
However, the pace of change overall remains slow. In order to expedite progress, The FA, with support from the Premier League, EFL, Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship, plan to make it mandatory for all professional clubs in the English leagues to report data on age, sex, gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation within their organisations. The creation of a new FA Rule to introduce this has been approved in principle by the FA Board, and there will be a consultation period to finalise the rule drafting prior to it being introduced ahead of the 2024/25 season.
This is a natural evolution of the Code following its move from hiring targets to full workforce data this year. From next season, the aim is for clubs to be required to individually report their workforce data as part of the Leagues’ compulsory EDI programmes. All professional clubs in the English leagues have EDI programmes which are independently evaluated annually as part of the Premier League Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Standard [PLEDIS] programme in the Premier League and the Equality Code of Practice in the EFL.
FA Chief Executive, Mark Bullingham, said: "The Football Leadership Diversity Code was introduced to improve representation across senior leadership and coaching roles in English football. For the third consecutive season, we have seen progress across The FA, Premier League and EFL, and I’m particularly pleased to see that our men’s England coaching workforce is 29% Black, Asian or Mixed Heritage, with that proportion maintained for senior coaches. However, the results show that there is still a huge amount of work to be done as overall the clubs are missing their targets. To help accelerate progress, we plan to introduce mandatory diversity reporting across the professional game from next season, which will help to provide greater transparency, maintain the pressure for positive change, and ensure English football is at the top of global industry in its levels of reporting accountability."
Paul Elliott, co-founder of The FA’s Football Leadership Diversity Code, said: "The Football Leadership Diversity Code was conceived three years ago during a difficult period for society where many organisations increased their focus on representation and inclusion. The Code was never going to be an overnight solution, but it was a landmark moment for English football to collectively work together to drive meaningful change. The introduction of mandatory disclosure is the next step in this journey, and it will help to complement and support the positive work that’s ongoing in this important area of our game."
Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Masters, said: "The Premier League has established programmes and policies in place to help promote equal opportunity and improve access to career pathways. For the past three years, mandatory reporting of workforce diversity data has been part of our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Standard, which is independently assessed. The Standard ensures every Premier League club reports on and achieves progress against workforce diversity targets, while supporting clubs to develop their culture and bring about long-term behavioural change. We will continue to support our clubs to build on existing work, evolve reporting practices and drive positive change."
EFL Chief Executive, Trevor Birch, said: "The EFL’s aim is to help ensure our clubs are reflective of the communities they represent so this evolution of the Football Leadership Diversity Code aligns well with the requirements of the recently updated EFL Equality Code of Practice and our broader aims to diversify football’s workforce at all levels of the game."
Chair of the Barclays Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship Board, Dawn Airey, said: "Equality of opportunity has long been a fundamental principle of the women’s game and the new leagues, when set up, will no doubt make this an important priority. The Code has helped champion women’s coaching within women’s football, and year three has seen a big lift in the proportion of female coaches hired in the women’s game. However, as the women’s game grows, it will need to have its own equality, diversity and inclusion programmes focused on the women’s game and specific to it. This will be reviewed in full as the leagues transition to a new entity."
Kick It Out Chief Executive, Tony Burnett, said: "The club results for the Football Leadership Diversity Code are disappointing, but we must now set bolder targets. The FA’s intention to make reporting of diversity data mandatory for all men’s and women’s clubs is a step in the right direction. We would urge the Premier League, EFL and all its 92 clubs to back this measure, make that data transparent and use it to set meaningful targets. Without that commitment, we won’t know the true scale of the problem nor be able to find solutions to make football more representative of the people who love the game."