The events that have unfolded following the tragic killing of George Floyd have impacted the entire world. It has brought into sharp focus a real desire for long overdue change, including in our own sports industry.
As an organisation, initially we wanted to listen, not talk. We wanted to better understand the situation and consult with staff, Board Members and key stakeholders to ensure we responded with appropriate action. At the same time we were very aware that we have a platform and a social responsibility to speak out. At Commonwealth Games England we fully support the fact that black lives matter. Diversity is one of our key values and we are committed to ensuring representation, equality and inclusion in everything we do. We strongly abhor racism and discrimination of any kind.
We cannot ignore the history of the Commonwealth and the connection which we believe will always exist. It is important not to airbrush the unpalatable parts of our history, but rather to understand and acknowledge these in order to build a future that ensures equality in every walk of life.
The team we represent and support at a Commonwealth Games is the most diverse and representative English sports team which competes on a global stage. English athletes come together from a multitude of backgrounds, from all over the country and compete together, united. We extend our support to all Team England athletes and staff. We are here, we are engaged and we are listening.
We are proud that at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, 19% of Team England’s athletes were from a non-white English background – which is representative of the population of England. We are also proud that we have one of the most diverse and representative Boards in English sport. Our Board benefits from 50:50 gender diversity and 25% BAME representation. Our President is Denise Lewis OBE. Denise said:
“We have been having the honest and fresh conversations about what we should be looking at and how we might change. We have to follow through on our actions. We must walk the talk. I am proud to be President of Commonwealth Games England and truly believe we can be one of the leaders of change.”
Our fundamental purpose is to prepare and deliver a successful Team England at the Commonwealth Games. With such a diverse athlete base we are determined to ensure that our whole team – athletes and support staff alike - is fully representative of our Nation and encapsulates our core values. Our diversity is something which we celebrate and encourage.
In October 2017, we produced a diversity action plan, in which we wanted to challenge ourselves to actions which would create positive change. We shared a report 12 months on, outlining what work had been done. We will be publishing another report in the coming weeks, outlining the work we want to do to continue to move forward.
The next Commonwealth Games is just over two years away, to be held in Birmingham, one of the youngest cities in Europe. Birmingham is a diverse city, which is home to people from more than 180 countries. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the rich diversity of England with an inspiring and diverse team on the global stage. A Team England which is representative of our Nation.