Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

UPDATE ON ACTION PLAN TO TACKLE RACISM AND ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION

Today, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) published an update on the implementation of cricket’s action plan to tackle racism and promote inclusion and diversity at all levels of the game, which was announced on 26 November 2021. 

The intention is to provide further information about the actions underway across the cricket network, including the initial steps that have been taken in respect of each commitment and the anticipated timetable for the full delivery of the plan.

This is the first of the regular updates that the ECB committed to provide when it announced the action plan in November. The next update will take place before the end of March, with at least one further update to follow in each subsequent quarter.

Worcestershire County Cricket Club Chairman Fanos Hira commented, “We are pleased that the whole game is taking this very serious issue of discrimination seriously, and we welcome today’s announcement from the ECB. 

“It is vital that cricket recognises the need for continuous improvements in inclusion and diversity at all levels of the game. 

“At Worcestershire, we have made significant progress in addressing not just these issues, but also putting in place, over many years, the fundamental governance structures which are required to ensure continuous improvement.

“There is so much more which we can do at Worcestershire. However, there is much that we have already accomplished.”

Led by the Board, Worcestershire has adopted and provided training on whistleblowing, governance, and reporting to all staff in early 2018. Since the extensive constitutional change in March 2018, female Board representation has increased from 10 to 40 per cent of the total, with ethnic diversity at 10% of the Board, which includes the Chair, and is shortly expected to increase further. 

Worcestershire is already meeting targets set in the ECB’s 12-point action plan, although it acknowledges there is still more as a county that it can further develop. Ongoing follow up education and training for all staff has already occurred in November 2021, with Safeguarding and an EDI steering group, led by the board, is already in place. 

The club aims to have a gold standard of governance within 12 months.

There follows below an update on each of the game-wide measures that the ECB announced as part of the action plan:

1. Adoption within three months of a standardised approach to reporting, investigating, responding to complaints, allegations, and whistleblowing across the game.

A new, independently operated game-wide whistleblowing system with standardised procedures for investigating and responding to complaints will be established by the end of February 2022. This will be accompanied by a communications campaign to raise awareness with the aim of ensuring that anyone who wishes to report discrimination, at any level of the game, feels able to do so. 

In parallel, work is continuing to define the resources and capabilities required by the ECB’s new Anti- Discrimination Unit. The unit will work with the professional game to tackle discrimination while also providing ongoing guidance across cricket. The new unit will be operational by the end of May 2022.

2. Full promotion of the aims of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) through proactive engagement with its investigations and recommendations.

The ICEC has received more than 4,000 responses to its online survey since it made its first call for evidence on 9 November 2021, inviting everyone in cricket to share their perceptions and experiences of discrimination and inclusion.

A second call for more in-depth submissions of written evidence will go live at the end of February 2022 and will be publicised by the ICEC, ECB and the cricket network. Following further evidence gathering and stakeholder engagement across the first half of 2022, the ICEC will publish its final report in September 2022.

The ICEC operates as an independent body; the ECB is assisting its work, providing documents and data and facilitating access to stakeholders across the game.

3. Ongoing EDI training for all those who work in cricket, including all staff, volunteers, recreational club officials, umpires, directors, and coaches.

All ECB and County directors, staff and key volunteers will be provided with anti-discrimination training by the end of February 2022. This will also be rolled out across to cricket’s 40,000-strong volunteer base in addition to recreational club officials, umpires and coaches during the 2022 season.

A broader inclusive leadership programme has already been piloted in Warwickshire, Gloucester, Somerset and with the MCC before being offered to all those in leadership positions across the game.

4. A full review of dressing room culture in all men’s and women’s professional teams, both domestic and international.

The review will be led by Clare Connor (Managing Director of Women’s Cricket), working with Ashley Giles (Managing Director of Men’s Cricket), First Class Counties, the Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) and external experts. It will examine dressing room culture(s) across elite cricket in England and Wales and make recommendations to address discriminatory attitudes and behaviours.

The review will commence in February and run across the 2022 season (when dressing rooms are active) with the final report due in September.

5. Delivery of a redesigned programme of player and coach education, addressing any gaps identified through the dressing room review.

Player education will build on the anti-racism training delivered by the PCA to 1,000 players and support staff in 2021. A redesigned programme, taking account of findings from the ICEC and dressing room culture review, will also be developed later in the year.

6. Action to aid progress into professional teams of people from diverse backgrounds (especially South Asian, Black and less privileged youngsters) through measures to address:

โ€ข talent identification and scouting
โ€ข education and diversity of coaches and
โ€ข targeted support programmes for players from diverse or under-privileged backgrounds.

The ECB will work with each County to deliver plans to address these three areas that we know arethe biggest barriers to progression for players from diverse background.

Initial work is underway to gather insights and identify challenges across the network, including through listening to those who have participated in the pathway and engagement with external experts.

Building on this work, individual plans tailored to the specific circumstances and challenges of each County will be developed across the 2022 season. This project is being overseen by Clare Connor and Ashley Giles.

7. A full-scale review, in advance of the 2022 season, into the detection, enforcement, and sanctions against discriminatory and abusive crowd behaviour at each of our professional cricket grounds.

The ECB is working with each First Class County to complete a comprehensive review of crowd behaviour and working with each venue in order to understand their specific plans and actions that are required ahead of the 2022 season.

8. Delivery of plans (tailored to local communities) to ensure professional cricket venues are welcoming to all, including provision of accessible seating, food and beverage offering catering to all faiths and cultures, and the availability of facilities such as multi-faith rooms and alcohol-free zones.

The ECB is working with each First Class County to understand their plans to make 2022 the most inclusive season yet. This work forms part of the Capital Investment Plans for each County so that the provisions available to fans and spectators at each venue are appropriate for each form of cricket.

9. Upgraded education in recreational cricket to ensure players, volunteers and coaches understand and champion inclusion and diversity in the game.

Work is underway to map existing education programmes across the game. This will inform a redesigned EDI education programme to be rolled out across the 2022 season.

10. A commitment to best practice governance with targets for Board diversity (30% female, locally representative ethnicity by April 2022) and plans to increase diversity across the wider organisation. (Compliance will be subject to a “comply or explain” provision to ensure Counties can respect their own governance processes in making the required change)

The ECB is working with each County to understand the current position and develop plans to address any gaps ahead of the 30 April 2022 “comply or explain” deadline. Sport England and recruitment specialists Perrett Laver will provide practical advice and assistance in helping to meet Board diversity targets, building on their previous collaboration to drive diversity in sport leadership roles.

11. The introduction of fairer recruitment processes through measures including the immediate adoption of anonymised recruitment tools for senior roles, open appointment processes for all roles and the use of balanced and diverse panels to assess interviews

Changes to the ECB’s recruitment processes have already been made. Learnings are being shared with the wider game as the ECB supports each County to adapt their own processes to ensure recruitment is fair, inclusive, and transparent.

12. Every senior executive employed across the game will have personal EDI objectives as part of their annual performance targets, driving leadership

The introduction of personal EDI objectives is in the process of being implemented at the ECB for all employees, not just those in leadership positions. Counties are working on plans to implement this for their senior executives.

As well as the measures set out above, the announcement of 26 November 2022 committed to action in a number of other areas. These include minimum EDI standards for venues bidding for high-value matches and a link between minimum EDI standards and receipt of central funding.

Both of these elements have already been implemented. The ECB has also commenced a review of governance and regulation in cricket to identify any opportunities to strengthen the structures and process across the game.

This process will draw on the external expertise of Portas, the specialist sports management consultancy, who will consult stakeholders and benchmark cricket against other sports. The final report will be completed in May 2022.

In addition, the ECB is working with Kick It Out, football’s leading anti-discrimination organisation, to carry out research and identify areas where they can offer expertise in developing and implementing plans to build a more inclusive cricketing environment. It is the first time Kick It Out has worked outside football, and the partnership is supported by funding from Sky.

County and MCC Progress on EDI initiatives

In addition to the central ECB work against the 12 points, efforts are underway to progress individual action plans at a local, County level. There are many examples of Counties already taking positive steps to understand personal experiences from those involved in cricket, through proactive outreach to players and former players; using staff surveys; speaking to recreational players; reviewing dressing room cultures; and setting up anonymous whistleblowing and reporting lines.

Across the cricket network there is also widespread work underway to embed equity and inclusion at the heart of everything Counties are doing, through initiatives like localised delivery of EDI training and workshops, policy reviews and open trials to broaden the routes into County talent pathways.