UK Sport And Sport England To Launch Joint Review Into Code For Sports Governance

Swimmer start for the Backstroke leg in the women's 4x100m Medley Relay Heat 2
UK Sport's governance review will pay particular attention to diversity - Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

UK Sport and Sport England are to immediately undertake the first joint review of the Code for Sports Governance.

The announcement coincides with a newspaper investigation that calls in question a secret research project organised by UK Sport in 2012.

UK Sport’s governance review will focus on three key areas: the elements of the code that support equality, diversity and inclusion, a general appraisal and an assessment against best practice from other sectors. The review is expected to last for six months.

The code was launched in April 2017 and has helped accelerate change in many national sports bodies in the UK.

This includes a commitment to greater diversity including at least 30% of each gender on boards with women now accounting for 40% of board members across funded bodies.

So too the establishment of boards as the ultimate decision-making bodies within a sport and reforms to board memberships with a target of at least 25% independent members.

sport england

Photo Courtesy: Sport England Twitter

A statement from UK Sport and Sport England said:

“UK Sport and Sport England have today confirmed that the first joint review of the Code for Sports Governance is to be undertaken effective immediately. The review will focus on three areas:

  • The review will identify areas where the Code would benefit from further development, and will include a substantive review of the elements of the Code that support equality, diversity and inclusion – including those that focus on the boards of sporting organisations, aimed at ensuring greater representation of those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, those with a disability or long-term health condition, and female representation on boards
  • A general review of other elements of the Code, drawing on over three years of experience of using the Code and with over 200 bodies now having been assessed
  • A check against current governance best practice from other sectors, recognising that thinking may have moved on and further improvements found in sport and other sectors over the last three years

“The review will involve a wide and inclusive consultation with organisations the Code applies to, and other organisations involved in improving both governance and diversity and inclusion. The review of the Code is anticipated to conclude within six months.

“Diversifying Board memberships has been a central focus of the Code and UK Sport and Sport England monitor compliance and support funded bodies in meeting their Diversity Action Plans. The two organisations have also put in place a successful programme with Perrett Laver to recruit and upskill a diverse network of board candidates.

“Working with UK Sport and Sport England, Perrett Laver identify and develop a network of senior, experienced candidates from a range of backgrounds, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, disabled and LGBT+ to help organisations develop more diverse boards. So far, the partnership has seen 23 appointments made to sports boards, 61% of which have been BAME and 74% of which have been female, while 50 BAME women are in the network of potential Board candidates.”

UK Sport 1

Simon Morton, chief operating officer of UK Sport said:

“National governing bodies have delivered a huge amount of positive change since the introduction of the Code for Sports Governance. However, it has always been our intention to review the code at the end of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic cycle, in order to consider whether there are areas in which it can be enhanced.

“We are particularly mindful of the need to ensure that boards are reflective of society across the UK. We’ve seen the power of the Code to effect positive change to the gender balance of sports boards, and its right that we consider how this approach can be broadened.

“Our desire to conduct a substantive review of the way in which the Code can help to drive equality and diversity, forms an important part of our commitment to creating a high-performance system that is truly inclusive.”

Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth added:

“The Code for Sports Governance has undoubtedly pushed the standard of sports governance to a new level and been an amazing tool for reform, particularly where bringing about greater gender parity is concerned.

“However, we are more aware than ever of the work that remains to be done, particularly where equality and diversity at board and leadership level is concerned.

“With Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic numbers at board and leadership levels quite rightly in the spotlight at the moment, this must not be another false dawn for addressing the racial inequalities that exist within sport, and the review of the Code for

“Sports governance will serve as one of the key pieces of work on this front.”


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