Walsall Football Club has signed up to the FA’s Football Leadership Diversity Code.
The voluntary code aims to drive diversity and inclusion across English football, with many clubs across the Premier League, EFL, Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship committing to tackle inequality across senior leadership positions, broader team operations and coaching roles.
It has been developed in collaboration with club executives, players, coaches, HR directors, media and leaders across the game to ensure English football better represents our modern and diverse society.
Recognising that clubs and support structures off the pitch do not reflect the increasing gender and ethnic diversity seen on the pitch, it will increase accountability and transparency and will see the FA, key stakeholders and clubs across the men’s and women’s game commit to embedding greater diversity across senior leadership teams, team operations and coaching setups.
The Code focuses on increasing equality of opportunity with hiring targets – rather than quotas – to encourage recruitment from across society.
Hiring will be based on merit, to find the best person for the job from diverse talent pipelines and the aim is to move away from recruitment practices focused on personal networks, which is a longstanding challenge across football and has limited the diversity in leadership across the game.
It 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.
Walsall CEO Stefan Gamble felt it was important the Saddlers supported and signed up to the Football Leadership Diversity Code.
“This is a great initiative and one we are pleased to have signed up to,” he said.
“Walsall is a very diverse town and Walsall Football Club prides itself on being all inclusive.
“We are committed to equal opportunities and tackling all forms of inequality and discrimination.”
At its time of launch, Paul Elliott, chair of the Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board, 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."
By signing up to the Football Leadership Diversity Code, clubs pledge to create an equality, diversity and inclusion plan which applies hiring targets while adopting specific recruitment principles. The targets, which will become effective immediately, include:-
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
- 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.
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."