Thursday, 23 May 2019 16:11

How Sporting bodies can kick Discrimination into touch

In recent times, we have seen a significant trend in the number of employees who have brought discrimination cases against their employers in the sporting profession.

Discrimination comes in many forms and occurs when someone is treated unfairly because of their age, sex, religion, disability, race or the group they belong to. Media coverage of discrimination cases has been widespread since the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements emerged over the last few years.

Whilst huge strides have been made to deal with discrimination, bullying and sexism issues that have plagued sport over the years, there have continued to be a spate of high-profile headlines that demonstrate that much is still needing to be done to eradicate such issues in sport.

In England, the Football Association recently confirmed that reports of discrimination in grassroots football is on the increase. Religious based incidents are up 1,672% with 319 incidents raised last season compared to 18 in 2013/14. Cases of discrimination based on nationality are also up an estimated 184 per cent.

In the United States, earlier this year a gender discrimination lawsuit was raised on International Women’s Day by 28 members of the USA’s women’s’ soccer team over pay equity and working conditions. In a statement released by the team, the 28 players alleged “institutionalized gender discrimination” has existed for years. The lawsuit contends that women players are paid substantially less than the men’s players based on sex, despite their greater win record. The US women’s team is currently ranked no.1 in the world.

Discrimination is widespread in many sports. A study in 2018 by Adelaides Flinders University which focused on inclusion issues at sporting clubs across 39 sports including rugby, soccer, tennis, cricket, and golf found that almost 40 per cent of respondents who participate in sports have felt ‘unsafe or vulnerable’ in a sporting environment because of their gender identification or sexuality.

Everyone has a right to be treated fairly. Everyone should be entitled to a working environment that is free from discrimination, bullying and sexism. Sporting bodies have a clear responsibility to kick poor behavior into touch by ensuring that they are proactive in creating a culture and environment that’s discrimination-free.

Sporting bodies should have clear policies and procedures in place reflecting how they deal with discrimination.   They should also maintain an equal opportunities policy to encourage a discriminatory free working environment. Most importantly, sporting bodies should have a clear reporting mechanism so that those who fall foul of discrimination have the means to report discrimination and provide unequivocal evidence that the employer cares about tackling the issues of discrimination, bullying and sexism in the workplace.

SeeHearSpeakUp is a global whistleblowing service provider. If you would like more information on how we can help your sporting association or body implement an effective whistleblowing solution to deal with discrimination in the workplace, please contact the sales team on +44 (0) 1224 625111.

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