If podcasts are your thing, you may have listened to the most recent episode of The YSF Podcast released this week, where we were joined by Arun Kang OBE, and Jasneet Kaur, both part of the team at Sporting Equals.
The episode is titled ‘How can the sport and activity sector contribute to race equality?’ As the Active Partnership for South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire, we are very much part of that sector, and when we ask the question, we are asking it of ourselves as much as any other organisation across the two counties.
As discussed in the episode, the death of George Floyd and the subsequent race equality marches made the world sit up and take notice, let alone just our part of it. As the leader of an organisation, it undoubtedly changed me and challenged me. Our team challenged me too – what are we going to do to play our part?
A major jolt in my thinking came a couple of years ago I when attended a session on diversity and inclusion led by Jennie Price, former Chief Executive of Sport England. I came back to Yorkshire and felt we could do much more. We had ticked all the boxes of equality standards and we have worked to tackle inequalities in the projects and programmes we led, but diversity and inclusion wasn’t necessarily at the heart of everything we did.
So we set up an internal group with people who were particularly passionate about it. We started to create the space for the conversation of what diversity and inclusion means for us as individuals and as an organisation.
We’ve done a fair bit of training, education and discussion; looking at policies and procedures; and how we do recruitment. We did it across the whole spectrum of inequalities and felt we were making progress.
But last summer really shook us up into more conversations about race and actually becoming anti-racist. We have made that commitment to not just stand on the sidelines and cheer others on, which may have been a position we could have been guilty of in the past.
We’ve invited local community groups and leaders to come and talk to us about their experiences, and their approach. We were challenged on simple but important things like the imagery we used on our website and started to make root and branch changes to how we do things; including following the lead of Sporting Equals and discontinued any use of the BAME acronym, as well as signing up to their charter. We know there’s much more to do and are working through plans to continually improve how we work.
We need to be on the front foot a bit more, and be more vocal. This podcast was part of that. We wanted to challenge ourselves, and hopefully share some of that learning with others in similar positions.
We need to challenge more, and we welcome that challenge in return. We need to be an anti-racist organisation, and that doesn’t come at the flick of a switch. It’s a process, and it’s one we’re committed to.